Friday, January 18, 2008

Poetry for Children

Most book lovers are word lovers. They love words that are beautifully woven together. Nowhere is this more readily seen than in poetry where a great deal of meaning must be packed into just a few words.

I love great poetry, but as a mother of young boys I combed through many a library bookshelf only to come up short on poetry compilations that touched the heart as well as tickled the funny bone. The older the book (I liked the outdated Childcraft encyclopedias that I found at yard sales) the better were my chances of finding substantial poems. Most of the modern poems were just too sing-song-y. Or just plain annoying.

Lewis Carroll’s "Jabberwocky" was one of our favorites. We “chortled in our joy” over such phrases as “frumious Bandersnatch” and “vorpal blade”. We saw (in our mind’s eye) the Jabberwock that “burbled as it came”. What a word feast! The closest I’ve come to finding a “perfect” book of poems (meaning I rarely skipped over any of them when reading aloud) is A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. These delightful verses are all written from a child’s point of view. Some other authors who have gentle, but unobtrusive rhymes are Dorothy Aldis and Eleanor Farjeon. Listed below are some exceptional books of poetry for the young.

Leaves from a Child’s Garden of Verses ( “best of”)
Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Coleridge (older children)
Whiskers and Rhymes - Lobel
A Book of Americans – BenĂ©t (American history in poetry form)
Golden Book of Fun and Nonsense (1970) (not for the faint-hearted!)
Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast – Prelutsky (funny dinosaur poems)


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