THE METHOD AHD THE MATERIAL 305
art of composition, just as they had spontaneously written their first word.
The mechanical preparation was the same, and the phenomenon developed logically. Logical articulate language had, when the time was ripe, provoked the corresponding explosion in written language.
I understood that the time had come when we might proceed to the reading of phrases. I had recourse to the means used by the children; that is, I wrote upon the blackboard, " Do you love me ?" The children read it slowly aloud, were silent for a moment as if thinking, then cried out, " Yes! Yes! " I continued to write; " Then make the silence, and watch me." They read this aloud, almost shouting, but had barely finished when a solemn silence began to establish itself, interrupted only by the sounds of the chairs as the children took positions in which they could sit quietly. Thus began between me and them a communication by means of written language, a thing which interested the children intensely. Little by little, they discovered the great quality of writing — that it transmits thought. Whenever I began to write, they fairly trembled in their eagerness to understand what was my meaning without hearing me speak a word.
Indeed, graphic language does not need spoken words. It can only be understood in all its greatness when it is completely isolated from spoken language.
This introduction to reading was followed by the following game, which is greatly enjoyed by the children. Upon a number of cards I wrote long sentences describing certain actions which the children were to carry out; for example, " Close the window blinds; open the front door; then wait a moment, and arrange things as they were at first." " Very politely ask eight of your com-