Poetry in motion

My Glasses

My glasses.
They make everything
                        by Sterling, age 8

Poetry – I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately. 

 Poetry can, whether from an 8-year-old child or an ancient muse, also make everything look bigger, clearer and more poignant.  Spending a few extra minutes browsing in the children’s department at the library recently, I found myself in the poetry section.  I was flooded with memories of how much I loved poems when I was little, and then, as a mom and teacher, reading and sharing poetry often with my children.

I can still vividly recall my childhood favorites, so ingrained in my memory.  “How do you like to go up in a swing, up in a swing so high…” ; “Who has seen the wind, neither you nor I …”; “The owl and the pussy cat went to sea, in a beautiful, pea-green boat…”; “I must go down to the sea again…”; “Wynken, Blinken and Nod one night…”.;”I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…”.

Poetry is such a celebration of words, sounds, and description.  It is emotion and motion combined with language, sense of rhythm, pattern and often a touch of whimsy – all assimilated and repeated by those who are fortunate to hear it.

Poetry energizes the senses, makes one more aware of his surroundings, nature, life itself.  It’s an original and personal way to look at ordinary and extraordinary things.  It can speak to the heart as well as one’s funny bone.  Exposure, familiarity, and delight in poetry broadens one’s views and enhances imagination, creativity, and depth of thought.

Reading experts highly recommend exposing children to this gift of poetic language as a foundation for their success in early reading.  From Dr. Seus, Mother Goose, Shel Silversteen and Jack Prelutsky to the classics of Robert Louis Stevenson, Rachel Field and A.A. Milne, as well as oodles of new creative poetry for children, you’ll discover, as will your children, the gems that will remain in their being for a lifetime.

I found a book at a garage sale, Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis written by Caroline Kennedy.  Caroline tells of a tradition in their family, as she and her brother were growing up.  For each holiday or birthday, she and John would, after much reading and deciding, choose a poem for their mother – copy it down, illustrate it, learn it by heart and recite it to their mom as a gift.  Caroline has done that with her own children as well.  What a treasured gift and tradition!

If you’d like to first get yourselves more familiar with poetry read aloud, a nice collection of poems with a CD included, spoken by the poets themselves is Poetry Speaks to Children , which allows the reader to hear the words as the poets intended them. 

I hope you’ll be inspired to share poetry together with your children.  You will all become more perceptive and feeling, and along with Sterling, glasses or not, make everything look bigger.

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