I love poetry. I have loved poetry since I received A.A. Milne’s When We were Very Young from a dear friend. I think I was four or five. I remember my dad’s reading it to me– and then moving on to NowWe Are Six (also by A.A. Milne) and then Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.
In second grade, my teacher encouraged us to memorize poetry, and I memorized Psalm 23 in the KJV. The beauty and rhythm of that psalm, the imagery– of still waters, the valley of the shadow of death, and a cup that runneth over– have stayed with me. I want to give that beauty to my children.
Our little homeschool group has a poetry picnic each month, and I strongly encourage my children to memorize poetry to recite at the picnic– but I’ve had irregular success. J will memorize the poems from the fiction he’s reading in a minute: J.R.R. Tolkein’s poem about the rings, for instance, or the poem from Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising were last year’s favorites. He memorized several poems from the Redwall books. But he’s reluctant to memorize anything I choose.
O finds memorizing anything overwhelming. Two months ago he choose Shel Silverstein’s "Spaghetti, spaghetti all over the place" to memorize, but when it comes to the picnic, he’s convinced he can’t do it. And he doesn’t. (M will do anything– including memorizing the poem O choses– simply to show she’s just as capable as her brothers.)
This past month’s poetry picnic went particularly well– my friend’s daughters did several Shel Silverstein poems which were very fun.
So I think I’m going to make poetry memorization and steady part of our literary diet.
Here are a few poetry anthologies we particularly like:
The Barefoot Book of Children’s Poems– this one has not just "children’s" poems, but classics, like Kipling’s If and Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII.
Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses
Poetry for Children, Robert Frost, edited by Gary Schmidt
Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends
Do you have other favorites you’d recommend?