Poetry, a Gift to Our Children

I only have a memory related to poetry. I still don’t know why or how I ended up with a book of poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez, and I remember wanting to memorize one of the poems that hunted me. I used to recite it in front of the mirror. After, I remember studying poets at school (junior high and high school), and it was drudgery. I don’t regret knowing something about meter, and figures of poetry, but to have to analyze a few poems, and focus on a poetic movement or one author, versus the freedom of late to read many without constrains, truly kills your love for poetry.
I also had a short lived infatuation with the love sonnets by Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, (I have not read Shakespeare’s sonnets yet, but I believe they must be a bit equivalent in their appeal to the young and their romantic view of love with its heartbreaks).
And I forgot all about it.
Forward to now, I have two daughters who are now 11 yo and 9 yo, and I learn with them at home. When they were little, I had an invaluable time to introduce them to books, to the few I knew, and to lots more I yet had to discover myself. For poetry we loved, first and foremost,
MOTHER GOOSE,
and we added some classic poetry books and poets,
STEVENSON, and his unforgettable titles that throw us back into childhood,
and MILNE… oh, Milne, we remember When We Were Young, and Now That We Are Six, which contain some of our favorite poems ever.

Loved and criticized alike, we have a sweet spot for Prelutszky, most specially his book The Dragons are Singing Tonight,

Since I’m from Spain, I also got Juan Ramón Jiménez for children, book I remember from my own young years, and a children anthology. We enjoy the “Fábulas de Samaniego”, many of which rhyme. You can read and listen to them here.
As the years progressed, we discovered classic poets such as,
Emily Dickinson,
Hilda Concling,
Sarah Teasdale,
and the year we read Whitecomb Riley, and we were puzzled by how little we understood and connected with, someone in our homeschool circle suggested to listen to the poems being read aloud, and we found this Orphan Annie and others.
We gave Blake a try, and he’s there, dormant in our poetry corners of our mind, (not all poets can be loved at first sight).
Since we know many Aussie friends who love literature, poetry, sugar, spice, and everything nice (and naughty), we were suggested a book which is one of my favorite books (not just poetry book), and that’s
A special mention too to Roahld Dahl. We’ve read his books more than his poems, but in them, he inserts the best rhyming madness you’ll read. Speaking of madness, we like the whimsical Edward Lear. Edward Lear takes you to Lewis Carroll and his Jabberwocky.
Another wonderful moment came when we got to Longfellow. His short poems were alright (my girls always complain though, that he is a bit on the sad side), and one day I set to read The Song of Hiawatha. At that time I did not have a copy of it, no idea of how long it was, and no idea about what it was about other than American Indians. I have discovered poets and authors through the kindle, but I warn you, many times, specially with poetry, my girls would whine and moan, and insist I stopped reading. I’m glad I kept reading Hiawatha, a bit at the time. It did not take super long for them to find the rhythm, and to get hold of the main thread of the story.
After reading Hiawatha, my girls kept saying the’d name their children names from the poem, specially Minnehaha (laughing waters). We read Evangeline this year, but they found it, obviously, not as packed with action and children allure, and it had more up and down moments for them, however, it’ll also stay in their memories.
Nowadays poetry is a frequent and valued guest at our home (even though my girls resist some poems some days). I continue reading new poets for them as they grow and get ready for them, and new and old poets for me too.
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4 comments on “Poetry, a Gift to Our Children

  1. How awesome that you're not only introducing your kids to poetry, but being introduced yourself to new poets along the way! Have you tried Shel Silverstein? He's got a very playful style, lots of child-oriented poems, but I think I appreciate him even more now that I'm an adult. Where the Sidewalk Ends is probably his most famous collection, and the one I like best right now.

    My mom used to recite Stevenson's poem about “Oh, how I love to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue” to me when she would push me in swings when I was very little. So I have a fondness for his poetry too. And A. A. Milne, definitely.

    I have a couple of picture books illustrating Longfellow's “Paul Revere's Ride,” which is thrilling.

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  2. Bravo for giving your children the gift of poetry. I did alright by mine with literature, but I definitely neglected sharing much poetry with them.

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  3. I've been wanting to find more poetry suitable for children in Spanish, and then lo and behold I happened to be looking back through my RSS reader (I am woefully behind, as you can tell) and found this post. Thank you!! I really appreciate having some leads. So far we've been memorizing a few seasonal poems by Douglas Wright (http://eljardindedouglas.blogspot.com/) and I was looking to branch out for next year.

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