Poetry Memorization

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?


3 thoughts on “Poetry Memorization

  1. I'm wandering through adding more poetry – I feel really ignorant about it though, and haven't made them memorize much beyond versed from Sunday School.

    I read something in a book about public speaking by they guy who played the white shadow (Mommy brain, sorry, can't do nouns today) with some good hints on memorization that worked on ME. Ruth Beechik had an interesting article on memorization in one of her books (and it's title would be a noun too…)

    I've dipped my toe in by downloading the monthly arrangements of poetry from Ambleside Online, and occasionally getting anthologies out of the library.

    I want the beauty, I want the vocabulary, someday I want to know what all those footnotes in the wasteland are about.

    Maybe when K sleeps?


  2. I grew up on "Poems to Read to the Very Young", which has a lot of R. L. Stevenson in it, but also some by Rosetti and others. The pictures are by Eloise Wilkins and are beautiful.

    I think it's cool your kids are memorizing the ring poem! It's so deliciously foreboding in the mouth when you recite it.

  3. Glad to hear of another poetry reading family! I posted about what we're doing for poetry recently (http://ordinarysplendor.blogspot.com/2010/01/good-reads-our-childrens-poetry-list.html)
    We have the CD to go along with the Alphabet Fairy Book and the kids are memorizing the poems quickly. My son loves it the best and it has aided their attention and eye on our nature hikes.

    My children also love the edition Jessica mentioned too.

    My husband and I both grew up reading and loving Robert Service. My 4th grade teacher would read the class The Cremation of Sam McGee for good behavior and we all effortlessly memorized it. I was thinking other narrative poems like these my capture the boys imagination like the Lord of the Rings has???

    I also have a book of heroic poems that I thought might appeal to the boys??

    Hope that helps. Keep us updated!

I love reading your comments! Thanks for visiting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s