Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Little Stories by Little Folks

      Celebrating Valentine's Day in school doesn't only need to include simple crafts and art lessons. This popular holiday affords wonderful opportunities to teach literary and handwriting lessons as well. Young students may be taught simple things like how to write their names and how to address a simple letter to a friend.
      As students graduate into higher grades, they should be given writing assignments like the example that I've included below. Writing longer letters to loved ones, writing stories for a contest or even writing a review about a simple Valentine story or film are all simple ways to plan for developing student literacy skills during St. Valentine's Day.
      This selection of short stories appeared in "The Omaha Sunday Bee: February 20, 1910. American newspapers frequently promoted writing contests for young people 100 years ago. Books were usually given as first and second prizes. How do the writing skills of the children below compare with your students in the classroom today? These former students were in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade.

Rules For Young Writers
  1. Write plainly on one side of the paper only and number the pages.
  2. Use pen and ink, not pencil
  3. Short and pointed articles will be given preferences. Do not use over 250 words.
  4. Original stories or letters only will be used.
  5. Write your name, age and address at the top of the first page.
First and second prizes of books will be given for the best two contributions to this page each week. Address all communications to Children's Department, Omaha Bee

(1rst Prize)
The Quarrel
By Aline Mitten, Aged 12 Years,
Tekamah, Nebraska
      One day the moon and stars were having a party. They were eating supper, when the moon said: "I think I am the greatest because I light up the paths for people to walk in and everybody looks up to me and trys to find the beautiful lady in the moon and sometimes they try to find the children." "Oh, well," said the stars, "you can brag all you want to but think of us. We help to light up the paths ad people look up at us and try to find the big and little dippers"
      Just then the sun stepped in and said: "It is all very well to talk, but listen to me. I light up all the world in the day time and the vegetables, flowers and trees look to me for light and assistance and I help to make the beautiful summer."
      Thus the quarrel ended and they all went to their homes in the heavens. 
      When the sun went home its mother said: "I am ashamed of you for bragging. and hereafter I shall make your time shorter." And that is why the sun sets in the evening.

(2nd Prize)
How the Gold Ring Was Lost and Found
By Marie Pendleton, Aged 11 Years,
Lexington, Nebraska
Marie Pendleton, Lexington, Neb.
            Little Jack was almost a year old, but he could not walk a step or speak a word. All he could do was to sit upon the floor and play with blocks, and make his rubber doll squeak. One morning his mamma was going to make preserves, so she took off her gold ring and put it on the table in the dining room. Then she left Jack there on the floor wile she went into the kitchen. Pretty soon Daisy, the white kitten, came in and jumped upon the table. When she saw the ring she whisked it off, rolled it over the floor and had a fine time. At last as she was pushing it about in a corner it sunk into a small hole in the carpet that a moth had made. She tried to get it again, but by and by it slipped clear out of sight. After she had done this she strolled out of the house. Jack had watched her movements, but as he could not talk he was unable to report her wrong-doing. When his mamma looked for her ring she could not find it anywhere and she felt very sorry. For nearly three months that ring lay in its snug hiding place. During the time Jack had been growing and learning a great deal. He could get all around the floor now. One day when he was creeping in the corner he found the tiny moth-hole and put his finger into it. Then he would often go there and do the same thing, till the hole grew larger. At last he saw something shining down among the loose threads and he pulled out the lost ring. He crept to his mamma and held it up to her and, oh, how surprised she was! "Where did Jack get it?" she exclaimed. Then he crept back into the corner and showed her the hole in the carpet; but she could not think how the ring ever got there. When his sister, Wenonoha, came from school and heard about it, she said,"I believe Daisy was the rogue that lost it, for yesterday she pushed my ring off the table and rolled it over the floor for a long time." So they agreed that this was the way the mischief had been done.

(Honorable Mention)
The Diamond Dipper
By Ruth Bailey, Aged 11 Years
Alvo, Nebraska
      One upon a time it was very hot and very dry. No rain had fallen for days and days. The birds had stopped singing and the animals were dying for want of water. All people were praying for rain.
      One morning a little girl started out to find some water for her sick mother. In her hand she carried a tin dipper. She climbed a hill hoping to find a spring. Up and up she climbed. The sharp stones cut her feet. Their strange shapes filled her with fear, but she thought of her sick mother and would not turn back. At last she came to a great wall of rocks and could go no further.
      "Oh, that some good fairy would show me!" she cried. Then a beautiful fairy stood before her in a robe like the clouds at sunset. She pointed to a narrow path among the rocks. The child followed the path and soon came to a spring hidden under green fern leaves. She filled her dipper to the brim.
      The little girl hurried home, with a happy heart, and gave the water to her mother. The gentle mother raised the dipper to her lips, but she did not drink. "My faithful nurse, let her drink first," she said.
      As she gave the dipper to the nurse it was changed into a diamond. Afterward the dipper could never be found. On night the little girl was looking at the stars and saw her dipper.

Abraham Lincoln
By Hazel Nelson, Aged 12 Years
Omaha, Nebraska
      Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, February 12, 1809. His father's name was Thomas Lincoln. He was a lazy man. Abe's mother's name was Nancy Hanks. She was a kind hearted woman, but not educated. Little Abe went to backwood schools. He was very fond of reading books, such as Aesop's Fables, the Bible and other books.
      Abraham had to split rails and do all kinds of work. In 1816 the family moved to Indiana and in 1830 they moved to Illinois. Abraham had a sister named Sarah Lincoln. She was older then he. When Abraham was 10 years old his mother died. His father made a casket, dug a hole and buried her. Abe was found many and many a time at his mother's grave weeping and crying with grief and sorrow. When Abraham was 16 years old he clerked in a country store.
       Once a woman came in and bought some things and paid for them and went home. Abraham counted the money and he saw she had given him 2 cents more then she should have. And when he went home he walked eight miles with the 2 cents, just to show how thoughtful he was.
      One day his father went away alone and come home with his second wife, Mrs. Sarah Bush. She was very well educated. Abraham married a girl named Mary Todd. She had four children, one still living in Chicago. He is president of the Pullman Car company. His name is Robert Todd Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States in the years of 1861 to 1865. He was shot in Ford's theater April 14, 1865, and died April 15, 1865. His memory is kept by celebrating his birthday, February 12.
The Dialogue
By Ina Smith, Aged 12 Years
Tekamah, Nebraska
      "Silence," said Miss Dixon. "Have you seen the program for the literary society. You know it is Friday, and you have four days to get it in." Two hands went up, "Helen, go up and see." "Jeanettea and John are on for a dialogue," said Helen.
      This was in the afternoon, and the night Jeannetta called John on the telephone and asked about the dialogue. He said he wouldn't have it and had asked the program committee to change it. "All right, you see Miss Dixon about it," said Jeannetta. Next morning John told Jeannetta that Miss Dixon said they had to have it. "But I intend to keep the dialogue book and say nothing about it," he added. Jeannetta wasn't anxious for the dialogue and said no more about it. Friday afternoon came and the program went nicely until the secretary called for Jeannetta's and John's dialogue. John answered, "Not prepared." Miss Dixon questioned him and said, "Mr. Barnes will see Jeannetta and John in the office immediately." Jeannetta and John followed to the office. Mr. Barnes took twenty-five off their grade and had them recite the dialogue the next Monday. You may be sure they never neglected to prepare their part for the literary society again.

Helping Mother
By Esther Knight, Aged 12 Years
Omaha, Nebraska
      Alice liked to play very much and did not like to work. She would go out with her friends early in the morning and play all day; so one day her mother was very ill and Alice went out to play anyway, and when it was drawing toward lunch time Alice grew hungry, and the other girls went home. She went in the house and her brother had come home for dinner and told Alice she would get a scolding form her father, so Alice hurried and got the best lunch she could, and her mother was ill for a long time and Alice had to keep house, and she liked to so well that Alice always helped her mother ever after.
Ariel's Captivity and Freedom
By Ann Axtell, Aged 9 Years
Omaha, Nebraska
      Once, long ago, there lived on an enchanted island an old witch named Asair. 
      There were may sprites on this island, such as sprites of water, sprites of song, but the one I am going to tell about is Ariel, a delicate little sprite of air which the old witch held in captivity because he would not run on her hateful errands.
      He was shut up in a pine tree and left to moan to the winds. By and by the old witch Asair died, leaving Ariel shut up in the pine tree.
      But after long years a man named Orlando was cast upon the island.
      Orlando was kind of a magician, and he soon set Ariel free.

The Valentine Party 
By Esther Knight, Aged 12 Years
Davenport, Omaha
      It was two days before Valentine's day and Grace and Bol Taylor were going to have a party. Grace and Bol were  twins and they were 8 years old. Their mamma had planned to give them a good time because they had never had a party before. Grace wrote invitations and Bol took them to the houses. There were going to be three girls and three boys, so that just made six children. The day came at last and the children woke up very early that morning to help. It was going to be a lovely day, so the children helped all they could, and a half and hour before the children came Grace and Bol got all ready and sat down in the parlor waiting. Well the visitors came one by one until all were there. They played nice valentine games and then at lunch Mrs. Taylor cut paper napkins in two pieces and pasted them to each child and they had to find partners in this way, the ones that napkins matched were partners. Well they had a delightful time and Grace and Bol did too. When each child was ready to leave Grace and Bol gave each one a very pretty valentine and they never afterward forgot that lovely valentine party.

Maggie's Valentine
By Dorothy Taylor, Aged 9 Years
Abbott, Nebraska
      It was St. Valentine's day and Maggie was waiting to get some valentines from her schoolmates. Every year she had got valentines, and she expected some this year. Every time her father went to the postoffice and came back there were no valentines. She had sent all of her friends a valentine and wondered why they did not send her any. She went to the nursery and sat down by the window. Hardly had she taken her seat when the doorbell rang. Maggie went to the door and there was a big pile of valentines. They were all very pretty. Some had lace around the edges. The one she liked best was a plain card with a verse written on it.
      It was from a poor little girl named Kate Smith. Maggie saw her friends running away from the house as fast as they could run. And now you see'all of Maggie's friends sent her a valentine. Maggie was sure they had forgot it was Valentine's day.

May's Surprise Party
By Anna Voss, Aged 12 Years
Grand Island, Nebraska
      Mary's birthday was the next day and she was to be 9 years old. So May went to mother and asked her if she could have a party and Mrs. Jones (May's mother) said, "No, dear: go and play and be a nice girl." 
      May ran off to play. So Mrs. Jones thought she would have a surprise party on May and have eight girls about the age of May, and May would be the ninth girl, as that was May's age. So Mrs. Jones wrote the invitations and sent them to the girls. When the next day came all the girls were to arrive at 2:30 o'clock and it was now 2 o'clock. So Mrs. Jones called May to her and told her her brother was going to take her for a ride and May enjoyed her ride very much, and when she came home she found the parlor full of girls. They played lots of games and lunch was served and when the girls were going home they said they never had such a good time as they had then. When night came May told her mother that she was glad that she did as her mother told her.

The Valentines
By Helen Verrill, Age 13 Years
Omaha, Nebraska
      Emmit and Ellen were brother and sister. They were very poor and lived in a two-room hut with their mother.
     It was two days before Valentine's day and Emmit and Ellen were very sure St. Valentine wouldn't forget them. So when the day before Valentine's day came, the children wrote a letter to St. Valentine and asked him not to forget them. They put their address in the letter and put it out on the window sill. The wind blew it away and it landed in a yard where a rich little girl lived. Her name was Ethel. She saw the letter and ran down and got it. She read it and then called her maid and went down town. She bought lots of valentines and early on Valentine's day went over to see the children. When they saw all the valentines they were very happy.
      The next day Ethel's mother went over to see Emmit and Ellen's mother. She engaged their mother to come and be the housekeeper and live there with her children. She went there the next day and you may be sure Emmit and Ellen gave valentines to other poor children and made them happy. 
      What Ethel and Emmit and Ellen had, and they were always treated as Ethel's brother and sister, and were very happy.  

How Harry Spent Valentine's Day 
By George Nicholson, King Bee. Age 13
Abbott, Nebraska
      It was Valentine's day and a boy named Harry was sitting looking out of the window in his home. He was wondering if he would get any valentines. Harry had sent some to a lot of his schoolmates. As he was sitting at the window he heard a knock at the door, he ran to the door and opened it, and he saw two valentines laying on the floor. He looked up and down the street to see who had left the valentines, but he could not see anybody, so he went back into the house and looked at the valentines. Harry knew who had sent one of them, because he could tell by the writing, so Harry got a valentine and took it over an hour and when he got back to his house he found a lot of valentines there. He looked at them all, but he could not tell who had sent them. As Harry went to school the next day he met a lot of boys. They asked him if he had gotten any valentines. Harry told them he had gotten a lot. They said they had too. They told Harry that they had sent some to him. Harry told them that he knew who had sent them now.
The Fairy Queen
By Margaret Matthews, Aged 9 Years
Omaha, Nebraska
      There was once a fairy queen, She was very kind and lived in the middle of dense woods, and she had power to do everything. When little children got lost she would send a flying horse to them and it would bring them to her palace. Her palace was of gold and the furniture was made of silver. She had beautiful pictures hanging on the walls. The palace was so large one could not see it all in less than one day. Every one who came to her palace wanted to stay there. One evening when she was sitting on the plaza enjoying the cool air, she heard her magic gong ring. This was how she know some one was lost. Immediately she sent her flying horse to find them. When he came back he was carrying a little girl about 10. She had yellow, flossy curls and blue eyes. The queen took her to a beautiful room. She told her to ring the bell at the side of the door if she wanted anything. The next morning she got up and saw before her a table covered with lovely things for breakfast. After breakfast the queen told the little girl she must start on her journey again. So the queen gave her a piece of paper and told her not to lose it or she would get lost again. Later in the morning the gong rang again. When her flying horse came back he was carrying a little girl that looked the same as the other one. She asked the queen if she would let her go to her sister. She said her sister looked just like her, and they bother were going to their home. She said they were daughters of the king and queen of the nearest city. The queen gave her a paper and told her not to lose it and she would find her sister. The little girl went away and soon found her sister. They said, "Let's go back to the fairy queen's palace. So they did. When they got back into the woods they got lost. The flying horse was sent. They rode to the palace and the queen asked them why they went back into the woods, and they told her. The queen asked them why they did not want to go home. They said their father and mother did not love them and sent them away. So the queen let them stay there. They lived happily ever after.

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