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04/30/2009

Poetry for Children

-12 We're nearing the end of National Poetry Month both here in Canada and the United States. I'm sure you all have been busy attending poetry readings, composing your own sonnets, and giving impromptu recitals over dinner.

[Cue sound of howling wind. A tumbleweed rolls across the screen.]

Not so much? Don't worry you're not alone. I don't have the stats (are there even stats on poetry?), but most people don't regularly read poetry. As a poet (full-disclosure!), I'm not as upset by this as I probably should be. I know it's not our fault. I truly believe that we all have an innate love of poetry, at least until a parade of high school English teachers trample, ruin, and then kill it. 

Most children love poetry. It mimics how they learn language, through rhythm and rhyme. It's exciting for them, something they understand, the play of language and sound. They aren't concerned with meaning or metaphor, just fun. I think that's why Denis Lee's Alligator Pie is a perennial Canadian classic.

We read a lot of poetry in our home. Other than Alligator Pie and the beautifully classic A Child's Garden of Verses, we use the public library for the rest. My oh-so-wise three-year-old continues to request John Updike's A Child's Calendar, Valerie Worth's Animal Poems, and for the budding gardener in him George Shannon's Busy in the Garden. Those are the ones in heavy rotation, and we have sampled many others, but I'm always on the hunt for the next favourite. 

Tell me, what are your children's favourites? Or yours from your own childhood? 

This is an original Canada Moms Blog post. Marita also occasionally blogs at All Things Said & Done.

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