Monday, February 19, 2007

Poetry for Children

Whenever I go to a children’s bookstore of the children’s book section of a chain store, I’m dismayed and disappointed by the choices of children’s poetry on hand. True, Chris Raschka has illustrated some gems and John Hollander, a personal hero, has made some amazing selections. Overall, however, the choices are slim.

Glad I am, then, to have the books of my girlhood. Today, my daughter chose the Golden Treasury of Poetry (c. 1957; 1974, ed. by Louis Untermeyer) as her reading tonight. The pictures are by Joan Walsh Anglund: charming but a little insipid. We flip through the book: a big, 300-page treasury, and she chooses based on whether the pictures are in color (every page is illustrated, but only 10 percent or so are in color) and if that color picture appeals. I don’t generally read either the title or the poet but just dive right in.

Tonight, she loved two by Robert Louis Stevenson, Ogden Nash, Louis Untermeyer, and an Untermeyer modernization of part of Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” (“That’s a very good knight!”). She could tell that Lewis Carrol’s “Father William” was funny without understanding it, but, when I read a bit of Wordsworth to her, she closed her eyes and began to pretend to snore.

That’s always been my feeling about The Prelude, too…

*(I admire and respect Wordsworth and I genuinely love the Intimations Ode, Tintern Abbey and many other shorter lyrics. I just can't do The Prelude.)


Michelle said...

Hi Anne,
You should check out Blue Rose Girls ( on Fridays..they have a children's poetry book recommendation every Friday. Good luck!

Imani said...

I fear that Wordsworth's poetry in general makes me close my eyes and pretend to snore. A fact which, for many, places me beyond redemption.

Unknown said...

Oh, Imani!!! I'm grinning.

Thanks, Michelle! I love Grace Lin's work--and see she's one of the coincidence, I'd discovered her on my own & then learned that my mother-in-law was her 9th grade English teacher!!! It's a small world, isn't it?

I'll check out those Friday's just what I was hoping for!

Kelly said...

Hi Anne:

Check out "The Barefoot Book of Classic Poems," illustrated by Jackie Morris. Full color throughout, truly gorgeous illustrations.

Another of my favorites is X.J. Kennedy's "Talking Like the Rain." Also an anthology, but the best one of children's poetry I've ever seen.

Finally, Ted Hughes' poetry for children has been collected in an anthology by FSG. I'm still expecting my copy, but if it is the same as the U.K. version, it is a MUST buy. Great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Wordsworth's Prelude should first be sampled via some of its famous episodes - skating on the lake, borrowing the rowboat at night, crossing the Alps, climbing Mount Snowdon - these are a few.