“Don Bosco,” Fr Michael Rua writes in a brief note in 1867 “sad at seeing the great evil that was happening especially amongst young students because of bad literature, planned to set up an association of good classical and modern literature.”
The plan became a reality the following year, when he began publishing the “Library for Italian Youth” or “Library of Italian Classics.”
The initiative was part of accomplishments established previously and of many more others which were to be implemented later. In reality, “Don Bosco gave no truce as a writer, publisher and propagandist because he was personally convinced that preaching the good news in printed form was a service he simply could not fail to render to Religion, a necessary way of carrying out his vocation as an educator of the young and people.”
Alongside the programme he published in 1868, this section includes four circular letters where he takes up the matter of educational reading, from different perspectives and with varying emphases. The two circulars published in 1884 and 1885 are of special interest. In the first, Don Bosco focuses on a point he considers “very important” regarding the “books to be removed from the hands of our boys” and “those that should be used for individual reading or reading in common.” The second, in a broader and more articulated fashion, develops the matter of “spreading good books” amongst the people in general and young people in particular, which, Don Bosco assures us, “is one of the principal ends” of the Salesian Congregation.
Along these lines we also include a personal letter addressed to Fr J. B. Lemoyne, Rector/Director of the boarding school at Lanzo.
Reference time period: 1860 – 1885
Salesian Historical Institute, Salesian Sources 1: Don Bosco and his work. Collected Works, LAS – Kristu Jyoti, Rome – Bangalore, 2017, 534-549.
Istituto Storico Salesiano