A blog for kids (and their parents) who love books, words, and dreaming big...
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rhyme and reason

I have loved poetry for as long as I can remember -- the sounds, the rhythms, the way that poets communicate their ideas and stories so succinctly. 

Like many children, I was first introduced to poetry through nursery rhymes.  I remember my parents reading to me from this book when I was just three or four... over and over again:
The Brimful Book,
edited by Watty Piper,
illustrated by Eulalie, C.M. Burd,
G. & D. Haumann, 1939
It wasn't long before I could recite all of the rhymes myself!

(The Brimful Book is no longer in print -- I think my copy used to belong to my dad when he was a boy.  However, if anyone's interested, I did notice that you can still purchase used copies online. I'm guessing that you could find them at used book stores, as well.) 

As I'm sure you know, there are many, many other books of nursery rhymes available for children.  Most of them contain the same rhymes; the main difference between the books is in their illustrations.  Here are some of my favorite Mother Goose books:

My Very First Mother Goose, edited by Iona Opie,
illustrated by Rosemary Wells, 1996
(This book was so well-loved by my daughter Emmalie that I couldn't take a picture of the front cover -- it's been missing for years!)

Tomie's Little Mother Goose,
illustrated by Tomie dePaola, 1997
This one, a board book, has managed to last through three children and thousands of readings... and it's still in one piece!

Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose,
illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, 2005
This one I bought for myself. :)  I love Mary Engelbreit's whimsical drawings, and think they are the perfect pictures to go along with nursery rhymes.

I also remember my parents reading me A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson, when I was quite young.  We owned several different copies, all with different illustrators.  Again, I believe this one first belonged to one of my parents:
A Child's Garden of Verses,
by Robert Louis Stevenson,
illustrated by Peter Mabie, 1945

When I was in elementary school, first grade or so, my mom bought this book of poetry for me.  I think she found it at a garage sale.  I do remember it was in good condition when she gave it to me.  You can see how much I've loved it and used it since!  (It's now missing its back cover and several index pages!)
Children Will Sit Still For,
edited by
Beatrice Schenk de Regniers,
Eva Moore,
and Mary Michaels White, 1969

Another book that's crammed full of fun poems for elementary-age kids is this one:
The Random House 
Book of Poetry,
selected by Jack Prelutsky,
illustrated by Arnold Lobel, 1983
I bought it for my kids when Emm and Nick were young.  I've read many of the poems out loud to my kids, and have read the entire book to myself several times.  (So... you don't necessarily have to be in elementary school to enjoy it!)

I think I was in 5th grade when I discovered Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, in our school library.  I quickly became a HUGE fan... and I know I'm not the only one!  This is (mostly) humorous poetry that appeals to all age groups.   I now own several of Mr. Silverstein's books, poetry and otherwise.  Someday I'll write a post dedicated to his works. :)
Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1974,
and A Light in the Attic, 1981,
written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein

Besides poetry written specifically for kids, I also loved poems written more for adults.  I remember poring over Mom's copies of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1955) and Best Loved Poems of the American People (selected by Hazel Felleman, 1936) when I was about ten.  I read some of the poems so many times... Dickinson's A Day and William Wordsworth's Daffodils, for instance... that I eventually knew them by heart.

Later on, teachers and friends introduced me to the works of other poets... e.e. cummings, Maya Angelou, Ogden Nash, Walt Whitman... the list goes on and on. 

I am always looking for new poetry to read (new to me, at least).  I'd love to hear -- what are some of your best-loved poems?  Who are some of your favorite poets?

1 comment:

  1. My favorite poems are "Fire and Ice" by Robert Frost, "The Forsaken Merman" by Matthew Arnold, and "There are Faries at the Bottom of Our Garden", by Rose Fyleman.