The How and Why Library/Life

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For works with similar titles, see Life.

The Story of Life[edit]

Part I—Plants[edit]

Editors' Note to Mother and Teacher.—Often, before he can talk plainly, a little child has some sense of the mystery of life, in himself, his playmates, his bird and his dog. Later, he recognizes that the flower and tree are alive, too. He asks endless questions about life, its nature and origin. Any child old enough to put a little brown seed into the ground, with confidence that a flower will grow from it, or who sees a downy chicken or crying bird come from a shell, has a natural curiosity about them that should be and can be satisfied.

He can comprehend that all life reproduces itself by means of seeds and eggs, and grows from these simple seeds into the more complex form of the fully developed offspring. To learn this in the right way is now recognized as the most serious requirement, as it has always been one of the most difficult problems, of his education.

In this "Story of Life" we compare the forms and functions, first of plants, then of animals, from the lowest, simplest types to the highest and most complex. So far as the editors are aware, this is the first attempt ever made to present Biology, or the Science of Life, to little children, and to show them some of the more striking resemblances among plants and animals which point toward a common relationship to one Great Source. The stories are as fascinating as fairy tales. They open up to the child, a new world of wonders; a world of intelligent plan, of order, of beauty and of the brotherhood of living things. They teach reverence, sympathy, and a sense of the worth and sacredness of all life.

Because of its appeal to the imagination—particularly of the young and in the treatment of a difficult scientific subject—the dramatic form of expression is here frequently employed; as "The Earthworm Puts on Armor." But the discussion of any particular theory has been purposely avoided, because we believe it would be out of place, and because these great and sacred truths, upon which we all agree, seemed to us of so much larger importance.