17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Introducing Children to Poetry

It seems most children's first taste of poetry comes in the form of a Dr. Seuss book. There is certainly something about the rhythm, rhyme and silly made up words that make his stories/poetry wildly entertaining for children and adults alike. I, for one, can't get enough of Green Eggs and Ham.

The next poetry book my daughter picked up was my old copy of Shel Silverstein's book, Where the Sidewalk Ends, I was more than happy to read aloud from this favorite book of my own childhood. It soon became Princess' absolute favorite book on the shelf as well(closely followed by A <Light in the Attic and Falling Up). It was almost like she had found a new treasure. Now I don't claim to be a poetry connoisseur and I have no idea what the smart english professor types think about Shel and his poetry, but again the rhyme and mostly the silliness drew my daughter in. I remember feeling the same way as a child. I loved those poems. I spent many hours memorizing and loved to recite one at any moment.

The Flower Show
If I had wheels instead of feet
And roses 'stead of eyes,
Then I would drive to the flower show
And maybe win a prize.

-Shel Silverstein

(yeah, I was pretty much a nerd and I guess I still am).

I was introduced to my next favorite children's poet by a good friend of mine at my first baby shower. She gave me three Douglas Florian books. He writes fun poetry for kids and his accompanying illustrations (like Silverstein) are great as well. The poetry and illustration combination are great for keeping the attention of a younger crowd.

Now, every trip to the library, we try to pick up a new poetry book. We've done some Jack Prelutsky, more Douglas Florian, a few unmemorable compilations, and now we have The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh.

I am always looking for new recommendations. Anyone out there have any for the pre-k crowd? Preferably something that will catch her attention, fill her imagination, and help her learn to love poetry? And preferably something that will not make me want to slit my wrists if I have to read it like 300 times in one week.


  • I love A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children by Caroline Kennedy because it has a brilliant selection of poems and beautiful illustrations. Enjoy.
    posted by Blogger cj at 6/10/2007 10:18:00 PM  

  • Ok, when I first read the title and then read the first few sentences, I was like....Dr. Seuss was a talented guy, but he doesn't write about POTTERY.


    ANyway, I have been thinking about this lately and wanting to pick up the old faithful Shel books....but now I have a long list to choose from! THANKS
    posted by Blogger Kage at 6/11/2007 04:22:00 AM  

  • My favorite was Sing a Song of Popcorn . It's a wonderful compilation that does have some Shel and Milne but also some others with Caldecott illustrators. My Mom got it for me for a poetry project in the 6th grade and I begged her to let me take it when I moved out! It's very appropriate for younger kids.
    posted by Blogger Liz&Meg at 6/11/2007 04:52:00 AM  

  • I am not a mom yet, but I do have 7 nieces and nephews. I am also a grad student in English, so I LOVE poetry and wanted to share that love w/ my sister's kids. I got them the book, "A Child's Introduction to Poetry" and from what my sister tells me, they love it. It has everyone from Emily Dickenson to Maya Angelou in it. The one that I got them also came with a CD of the poems being read aloud. The reading level may be for older kids (3rd or 4th grade), but regardless, I think that reading poetry to kids is a great way to cultivate a love for it in them. I'm sure you can type in the title and find it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble. Hope this helps!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/11/2007 09:54:00 AM  

  • I decided that I would check your blog today. What a great post! My favorite poetry book growing up was Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. There are some really good illustrated ones out there. I had one that wasn't illustrated and I liked that because I was able to use my own imagination. Sometimes our own interpretation is a lot more interesting than what the illustrations portray. It works with his poetry, because it's so descriptive. If you don't want to use an illustrated book, the poems are online. http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/stevenson/collections/childs_garden_of_verses.html
    posted by Blogger Lilian at 6/11/2007 03:59:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.
    posted by Blogger Lilian at 6/11/2007 04:00:00 PM  

  • Take a look at "Take me out of the bathtub and other silly dilly songs" as well as the sequel "I'm still here in the bathtub" They're all super funny poems that have been re-written to familiar songs. You can read them or even sing them. For instance "Stinky stinky diaper change" was "Twinkle, Twinkle". I forget the first name if the author but the last name is Katz. They're fun!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 6/11/2007 05:53:00 PM  

  • My parents and grandparents introduced me to poetry before kindergarten (probably from the time I was 2 or 3) and I still remember being in enamored with the rhymes and the sound of the words. My first intro wasn't Dr. Seuss, it was a book of mother goose nursery rhymes. Oh, they are rhymes, not poetry, but I really liked them. My grandmother has a book of poetry that was published in the '60s (I was an 80's kid) that I oved being read that had many of the poems in the Kennedy book. It had Longfellow, Sandberg, Frost, Dickenson, etc. It wasn't meant for the pre-k crowd but I didn't care. It was also illustrated. Wonderful book. Personally, introducing kids to the classics like a book like Kennedy is great. I don't think your little girl is too young to be introduced to the poems in that book.
    posted by Blogger Sherpa at 6/12/2007 01:58:00 PM  

  • Great post. This reminds me of an article I read in a baby mag a long time ago about poetry and how it helps children's language and creative skills develop.

    There are a lot of books that have lilting phrases that we love. Bubbles, Bubbles about bath time is one that immediately comes to mind. And I've also heard great things about the Caroline Kennedy book that has been mentioned above. This is a great impetus for me to find it.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 6/12/2007 02:17:00 PM  

  • Thanks for the suggestions. I am adding them all to my library list right now. I think I will have to get most of them sent over from other branches. The Caroline Kennedy book looks fabulous - at least what I can see from amazon's peak inside.

    Kage-- you crack me up.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 6/12/2007 02:45:00 PM  

  • This blog is great for those of us with itty bitty kids... I already have a great list of things to do with him when he's older. I guess I'll add poetry. I will say, you can tell how much babies respond to rhyme from early on. I've read to my boy since pretty much day one and he always has responded to rhyming books - "Eight Silly Monkeys", "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See?", "Dr. Suess's ABC's". He has always been obsessed with these books. Thanks for the post.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 6/12/2007 03:18:00 PM  

  • I agree with Sherpa, go for nursery rhymes too. I have a book of ok illustrations, and a couple with really great illustrations. I love Shel for the slightly older kids (the poems still crack me up). But other than that, your other authors are new to me, so I'll have to go enjoy them with the kids!
    posted by Blogger Katie at 6/13/2007 06:18:00 AM  

  • I know I'm late responding to this post, but for future readers: I read Shakespeare to my 15-month-old. I read a sonnet a night to her while she plays around in her room in her pajamas. I know she's not paying attention to it, but she's hearing the language, absorbing the rhythms, and being exposed to it.

    I remember watching my younger brothers be able to pronounce and then read words like "abomination" and "iniquity" at a really young age. And I knew it was because my family had been reading scriptural language out loud around them since they were born.

    So why not with poetry, and with great poetry? Hopefully, it will foster a love of great language and poetry in her. If nothing else, when she gets to high school and has to read Julius Caesar, it won't be so painfully unfamiliar.

    Incidentally, I got the idea from the book _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_, the narrator of which grows up reading a page from the Bible and a page from the Complete Works of Shakespeare every day with her mother and brother, even though her mother is uneducated and can't understand what they're reading. I thought it was a great idea.
    posted by Blogger sunny at 6/21/2007 06:31:00 PM  

  • Sunny - I love that. DH performs his Shakespeare monologues to T (and reads pages from the plays as well) and T has always responded to them. It's crazy. And I love "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". Very good idea.
    posted by Anonymous Beth at 6/21/2007 09:08:00 PM  

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