Catalogue of Books Suitable for Pupils of Grade I - IX [1923]

Note: The text that follows is from the preface to a 28 pp. catalogue published by the Department of Education in September 1923. As the preface states, the catalogue was prepared in conjunction with the provincial Public Library Commission (1919). In 2001, Terra Dickson transcribed and formatted a facsimile of 1923 Catalogue of School Library Books as a supplement to her historical overview of school libraries in British Columbia.

Reference Books for School Library - Preface

These lists have been prepared under the direction of the Public Library Commission of British Columbia as a help in the buying of books for school libraries. Text-books have not been included in the lists. In the section on science certain attractively illustrated manuals have been preferred to the frequently over-simplified, over-sentimentalized "nature story" as better calculated to encourage a lasting interest in birds and beasts and flowers and rocks. Also, the list on travel is not a children's list at all, and may not be adapted to the use of public schools. But in the books examined the original narratives of the staunch old navigators seemed usually to have more virility and more appeal than the sterilized, made-to-order sort of thing produced for children.

The grading is suggestive only and is done on the basis of a normally thoughtful child from a home with a reading tradition. In general, "Junior" covers the first three years of public-school life; "intermediate," the next three or four; and "Senior," the last one or two and the first year of high school.

Prices are uncertain. Where possible they have been checked with 1923 publishers' catalogues, but this could not always be done. In listing Dent's Everyman edition the reinforced binding is the only one recommended.

A good deal of work had been already done toward making these lists the best possible for the use of British Columbia schools, and some thousands of books taken from some dozens of different lists have been examined and compared. But they are still very far from complete. The General section especially is largely suggestive rather than selective, and while more care has been taken with the graded parts, even here there has not been time to examine and compare all the books available under the different headings; nor has it been practicable to gather together for examination at this time all the editions of even the recognized children's classics in order that the very best might be selected. Moreover, the point of view in all educational effort has changed so radically in the last few years that the establishing of a satisfactory basis for selection is the greatest difficulty of all.

The committee therefore regards these lists as tentative only, and asks for criticism and suggestion from teachers, librarians, parents, and all who are interested in children's reading, since only by such co-operative effort can a really good selection be made.

Transcribed and formatted by Terra Dickson, History 349, Malaspina University College, December 2001