Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Pair to Share for National Poetry Month

It's National Poetry Month, and in my continuing effort to bring you resources for sharing poetry with the young folks in your lives, I thought I would highlight a couple of poetry collections that I've been reading with the Light and Seal.

Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry is a delightful selection of poems perfect for sharing with preschoolers. Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, with illustrations by Polly Dunbar, this set of 61 poems focus on different aspects of a day in a child's life told from the child's perspective. The poems are organized into four sections: "Me, Myself, and I"; "Who Lives in My House"; "I Go Outside"; and "Time for Bed." Adorable round-faced and rosy-cheeked children populate Dunbar's drawings, bringing life to poetry from such pens as Margaret Wise Brown, Langston Hughes, A. A. Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jack Prelutsky, Gertrude Stein and Spike Milligan to name a few. Both my children (who are 4 and 2 at the time of this writing) loved this book, and have wanted it read to them multiple times. It's great fun to read aloud because the poems capture the spirit of children. Some of our favorites include "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson (my daughter relates to the description of flying high), "Cat Kisses" by Bobbi Katz (both Light and Seal squeal with glee when these are bestowed upon them), "Brother" by Mary Ann Hoberman and "Rickety Train Ride" by Tony Mitton (I love those last two because they're such tongue-twisters!).

The Oxford Book of Story Poems, edited by Michael Harrison and Christopher Stuart-Clark is more appropriate for older children (though my little ones still enjoy it), and includes both classic poems and more modern selections, all of which tell a story, of course. Classics from Lewis Carroll ("Jabberwocky," "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and "Humpty Dumpty's Recitation"), Edgar Allan Poe ("Annabel Lee"--one of my favorites!), Walter de la Mare ("The Listeners") are alongside Ray Bradbury's "Switching on the Night" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Man in the Moon Stayed up Too Late." Nonsense, tragedy, suspense, mystery, cautionary tales, shipwrecks, witches, dragons and ghosts--the gang's all here. This is a truly rich anthology, and if you're an educator hoping to cover several bases with one book, this is an excellent one to check out. Colorful and imaginative illustrations from various artists pepper the text. Helpful indices of themes, artists, authors, titles and first lines are included in the back of the book.

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