304 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
My second test, was to have one of the children read the book to me. I did not interrupt with any of those explanatory remarks by means of which a teacher tries to help the child follow the thread of the story he is reading, saying for example: " Stop a minute. Do you understand? What have you read? You told me how the little boy went to drive in a big carriage, didn't you ? Pay attention to what the book says, etc."
I gave the book to a little boy, sat down beside him in a friendly fashion, and when he had read I asked him simply and seriously as one would speak to a friend, " Did you understand what you were reading ?" He replied: " No." But the expression of his face seemed to ask an explanation of my demand. In fact, the idea that through the reading of a series of words the complex thoughts of others might be communicated to us, was to be for my children one of the beautiful conquests of the future, a new source of surprise and joy.
The booh has recourse to logical language, not to the mechanism of the language. Before the child can understand and enjoy a book, the logical language must be established in him. Between knowing how to read the words, and how to read the sense, of a book there lies the same distance that exists between knowing how to pronounce a word and how to make a speech. I, therefore, stopped the reading from books and waited.
One day, during a free conversation period, four children arose at the same time and with expressions of joy on their faces ran to the blackboard and wrote phrases upon the order of the following:
" Oh, how glad we are that our garden has begun to bloom." It was a great surprise for me, and I was deeply moved. These children had arrived spontaneously at the