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  2004.01

  After 1785, the production of children's books in the United States increased but remained largely reprints of British books, often those published by John Newbery, the first publisher to produce books aimed primarily at diverting a child audience. Ultimate]y, however, it was not the cheerful, commercial-minded Newhery, but Anglo-Irish author Maria Edgeworth who had the strongest influence on this period of American children's literature. The eighteenth century had seen a gradual shift away from the spiritual intensity of earlier American religious writings for children, toward a more generalized moralism. Newbery notwithstanding, Americans still looked on children's books as vehicles for instruction, not amusement, though they would accept a moderate amount of fictional entertainment for the sake of more successful instruction. As the children's book market expanded, then, what both public and publishers wanted was the kind of fiction Maria Edgeworth wrote: stories interesting enough to attract children and morally instructive enough to allay adult distrust of fiction.

  American reaction against imported books for children set in after the War of 1812 with the British. A wave of nationalism permeated everything, and the self-conscious new nation found foreign writings (particularly those from the British monarchy) unsuitable for the children of a democratic republic, a slate of self-governing, equal citizens. Publishers of children's books began to encourage American writers to write for American children. When they responded, the pattern established by Maria Edgeworth was at hand, attractive to most of them for both its rationalism and its high moral tone. Early in the 1820's, stories of willful children learning to obey, of careless children learning to take care, of selfish children learning to tire for others, started to flow from American presses, successfully achieving Edgeworth's tone, though rarely her lively style. Imitative as they were, these early American stories were quite distinguishable from their British counterparts. Few servants appeared in them, and if class distinctions had by no means disappeared, there was much democratic insistence on the worthiness of every level of birth and work. The characters of children in this fiction were serious, conscientious. self-reflective, and independent-testimony to the continuing influence of the earlier American moralistic tradition in children's books.

  Lichens. probably the hardiest of all plants, live where virtually nothing else can---not just on rugged mountain peaks but also on sunbaked desert rocks. They are usually the first life to appear on a mountainside that has been scraped bare by an avalanche. Unlike other members of the plant kingdom, lichens are actually a partnership between two plants. The framework of a lichen is usually a network of minute hairlike fungus that anchors the plant, The other component is an alga (similar to the green film of plant life that grows on stagnant pools) that is distributed throughout the fungus. Being green plants, algae are capable of photosynthesis--that is, using energy from the Sun to manufacture their own food. The fungi arc believed to supply water, minerals, and physical support to the partnership.

  Lichens are famous for their ability to survive ~ water shortage. When water is scarce (as is often the case on a mountain), lichens may become dormant and remain in that condition for prolonged periods of time. Some lichens can even grow where there is no rain at all, surviving on only occasional dew--the moisture that condenses on the surface of the plants at night, And unlike most other plants, lichens are little affected by the strong ultraviolet rays in the mountains.

  Lichens use little energy, for they grow slowly. Some grow so slowly and are so old that they are called time stains. You may find lichens that are centuries old; certain of these lichen colonies have been established for an estimated 2,000 years. For decades, scientists wondered how the offspring of an alga and a fungus got together to form a new lichen, it seemed unlikely that they would just happen to encounter one another. It was finally discovered that in many cases the two partners have never been separated. Stalklike buds that form on certain lichens are broken off by the wind or by animals; these toll or are blown to a new location

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