The Best online Poetry Search site
Straightforward and basic help with knowing how to read and understand poetry. Archived link
Dr. Rampey's Guide to Reading Poetry may also be helpful.
Poems to read your baby by Christina Rossetti and other poets, as well as suggested poetry board books for babies
The Original Mother Goose with illustrations
Reasons to read Mother Goose
Audio: Librivox.org has a plethora of poems read by various readers; notable dramatic readers so far: Glen Hallstrom ("Smokestack Jones"), Kristin Hughes, Martin Clifton; David Barnes, and "Chip" are also good.
Read these Parents Review articles:
1901 The Teaching of Poetry to Children, with poems from that article here
1893 An Address on The Teaching of Poetry by the Rev Beeching
1903 What is Poetry? by H. A. Nesbitt
Parents' Review articles about poets:
Tennyson; In Memoriam
Wordsworth; a review of Wordsworth, by Raleigh
John Milton Paradise Lost; Psalm 1
T. E. Brown (a modern George Herbert)
Samuel Coleridge quoted in this article about Nature
Robert Browning: Childe Roland; Whom the Gods Love
There's a picture book series called Poetry For Young People that might be useful if you like to have a book for each term (but keep in mind that it's preferable for children to form images in their minds from the words rather than relying on an artist's impression). Books available for AO in Years 1-6:
Year 3 William Blake, edited by John Maynard, illus by Alessandra Cimatoribus
Year 3 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, edited by Frances Schoonmaker, illus by Chad Walker
Year 4 Alfred Tennyson, edited by John Maynard, illus by Allen Garns
Year 4 Emily Dickinson, edited by Frances Schoonmaker, illus by Chi Chung
Year 4 William Wordsworth, edited by Alan Liu, illus by James Muir
Year 5 Rudyard Kipling, edited by Eileen Gillooly, illus by Jim Sharpe
Year 5 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, edited by Frances Schoonmaker, illus by Chad Walker
Year 6 Robert Frost, edited by Gary D. Schmidt, illus by Henri Sorensen
Year 6 Carl Sandburg, edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, illus by Steven Arcella
It's nice to have a good illustrated anthology of children's poems for informal reading. Look for children's anthologies that focus on classics rather than on silly/humorous poems, doggerel and twaddle. Some that we can recommend include:
A Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa
The Golden Books Family Treasury of Poetry selected by Louis Untermeyer (out of print, but still widely available)
The Oxford Book of Children's Verse Iona and Peter Opie (currently out of print, and selling at vintage prices)
There are lots and lots of possibilities for family anthologies; these are just a few:
Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris Tibbets
The Family Book of Verse by Lewis Gannett (out of print, but still widely available and affordable)
The Poets' Corner by John Lithgow (includes an MP3 disk of poems read aloud by various celebrities)
The Classic Hundred Poems by William Harmon
If you prefer free, you can download a text file of AmblesideOnline's Poetry Anthology that includes 208 classic poems for the whole family. Click the link to view, or right-click and choose the "Save Target . . ." to save to your hard drive and format/print to your preferred specifications in your own word processing program. This does not include any of the poems in the Year 1 collection.
The angel paused in his downward flight
With seeds of love and truth and light;
And said, "Oh, where shall this seed be sown,
That it yield most fruit when fully grown?"
The Savior paused and said as He smiled,
"Place it for me in the heart of a child."
Taken from the book Bread From My Oven by Marjorie Parker
(Thanks to Rebecca (Clio1212) for locating the author of this poem!)
Child's Garden of Verses Robert Louis Stevenson; online at Poetry Lovers, and PG with illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith or Myrtle Sheldon.
Now We Are Six and When We Were Very Young A.A. Milne
Oxford Book of Children's Verse Iona and Peter Opie [or other quality collection that features mostly familiar classic children's poems], or AO's collection of 229 classic children's poems. Available by month, 20 poems per page (click Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec) or as a single document. (Free online, or purchase for Kindle)
Year 2 (purchase all three terms of Year 2's poetry for Kindle)
Walter De La Mare (purchase for Kindle)
Eugene Field and James Whitcombe Riley (purchase for Kindle)
Sing Song by Christina Rossetti (purchase for Kindle)
Year 3 (purchase all three terms of Year 3's poetry for Kindle)
William Blake (purchase for Kindle) (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Sara Teasdale and Hilda Conkling (purchase for Kindle
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (purchase for Kindle) (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Alfred Tennyson (purchase for Kindle) (biography) (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Emily Dickinson (purchase for Kindle) (biography) (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
William Wordsworth (purchase for Kindle) (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Rudyard Kipling (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (his longer poems are historically appropriate for Year 5) (optional: Poetry For Young People series)
John Greenleaf Whittier and Paul Laurence Dunbar
Robert Frost (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Carl Sandburg (optional: Poetry For Young People series; see note above)
Langston Hughes; we suggest his anthology for children called The Dreamkeeper ($ K). His poems online
As an optional alternative to any term in Years 4-6, you might enjoy these 59 poems.
12 Shakespeare Sonnets and Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, by Roy Maynard about Spencer's Fairie Queene
John Donne (Free online, or purchase for Kindle) and George Herbert
OR, use for all 3 terms: The Oxford Book of English Verse, edited by Arthur Quiller Couch
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman
OR, use for all 3 terms: The Oxford Book of English Verse, edited by Arthur Quiller Couch
A good contemporary anthology such as Norton's
Edna St. Vincent Millay
To be determined
"Poetry is the practice of creating artworks using language. Sculptors use marble, steel, cardboard, goose liver pate, whatever material they choose. Musicians use sound. Painters use paint. Furniture-makers use woods and fabrics. And poets use language . . . Poets are interested in exploring experience through the written word. That includes any experience you can have as well as the world of your dreams and fantasies . . . The poet takes all these kind of experiences and the emotions and feelings they bring with them, and makes them into art through the way he uses language. And that - because you use language, too - gives you an instant link to poetry as well." - Poetry for Dummies by The Poetry Center and John Timpane with Maureen Watts
"Few things open the doors of the spirit and the thoughtful mind as poetry does, provided it is of the best and the field covered is wide." The P.N.E.U. method in Sunday Schools by Helen E. Wix, Parents' Review, November 1917
"Poetry is the music of the soul; and above all, of great and feeling souls." - Voltaire
What is poetry? Who knows?
Not the rose, but the scent of the rose;
Not the sky, but the light in the sky;
Not the fly, but the gleam of the fly;
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea;
Not myself, but what makes me
See, hear, and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what it is, who knows?
(by Eleanor Farjeon)
These selected quotes and notes were taken from "Children and Books" by May Hill Arbuthnot:
Good poetry should use words that are exact and descriptive with no forced rhymes, but instead words and lines trip along with the lightness of children jumping rope. Clumsy doggerel - in contrast to the verses of Lear, Richards and Milne - is heavy footed and its words and rhymes have no sparkle. Good poetry gives freshness to ideas - whether common ones or new ones. A good poem should result in laughter, or dreams to ponder, or a sharpened awareness of life. The chief appeal of poetry is to the ear, the emotions and the imagination. A poem should be heard, not read. It may take a few times of hearing a poem to determine whether you like it.
Some poems practically sing and stick in the mind. Lyric poetry - "poems so lovely in sound that they will speak to the inner ear and to the spirit and imagination of the child" - can be enjoyable because of the mere flow of words themselves, even if the child doesn't totally understand the vocabulary. "Children are caught by the charm of words and phrases, and without knowing why, they respond to the mood invoked by the words. In such accidental way, children's taste for lyric poetry may begin." Lyric poetry should be read casually and repeated, and must be read aloud. "Their melodies must be heard if they are to be enjoyed." Examples of lyric poetry: Shakespeare's Under the Greenwood Tree, Coleridge's Kubla Khan, Walter de la Mare's poetry, Blake's Songs of Innocence, Christina Rossetti's Sing Song, Mother Goose.
Children enjoy narrative poems that tell a story like The Pied Piper, The Highwayman, or even Little Miss Muffet. They enjoy occasional descriptive nature poems if they're short, such as those by Sara Teasdale or Hilda Conkling.
What do children like about poetry? They respond to a poem's singing quality, rhyme, rhythm, meter, onomatopoetic (words that imitate sounds), alliteration (repetition of initial consonants), tone color, cadence, all that goes into the melody of the verse, even though they do not know the technical names. Our business is to savor this singing quality, too, and learn how to bring it out in our reading.
Exposure to poetry should begin when children are very small, parents should say it and read it aloud and encourage the child to join in and say it, too. Poems should be read aloud to children all through their first twelve years. By that time, they will have mastered the mechanics of reading for themselves; they will also be steeped in poetry and they will have the habit of saying it so well established that they will go right on reading it and enjoying it by themselves. Children will accept poems read casually and purely for enjoyment more readily than poems that are forced on them as a school exercise. The same poem that may baffle and discourage them when forced on them as a reading assignment will bring delight when read aloud by an adult who understands how to bring out its meaning while making it sing. A child understands it without ever dreaming that it is "hard."
What if the parent is unfamiliar with reading poetry? Mother Goose is a good place to start because of its pronounced rhyme and rhythm, giving a sense of tempo and variety. When reading more subtle poetry, use imagination and a delicate precision of interpretation. To acquire this precision, always read a poem aloud and try first of all to get the general mood or feeling. William Blake's "Laughing Song" carries a gentle gaiety, De La Mare's "Someone" is mysterious and hushed, his "Tired Tim" moons and mopes along laggingly, Eleanor Wylie's "Velvet Shoes" should be read slowly and quietly. Before reading a new poem, read it through silently once, merely to familiarize yourself with the words, mood and content. Then say it aloud several times until you get the feel of it and have the characteristic tempo of that particular poem.
Children should not be pressured to analyze poems, although they may speculate if they wish. Being forced to sit through long, descriptive nature poems that bore them may permanently ruin their ability to enjoy it. They will not likely appreciate poems written to make adults sentimental about childhood ("Little Boy Blue") or wistful poems about lost youth and regret, or poems whose purpose is to moralize them. Children who have become resistant to poetry may enjoy humorous poems such as Edward Lear and AA Milne.
Poetry has the same power of healing that music has. For those who have cultivated a listening ear, poetry has the same therapeutic quality as music. When you and your children have made this discovery, you will appreciate the use of poetry for refreshment, for merriment, for stimulation, and for quiet reassurance.
Ruth Beechick's You Can Teach Your Child Successfully includes a section on teaching poetry.
Karen Andreola's article on poetry, originally adapted from a 1936 PR article by Monk Gibbon
Charlotte Mason's thoughts on poetry from her volumes, as well as links to three Parents Review articles about poetry here
Notes from the Darrington Branch PNEU
Miss Lucy Harrison addressed the meeting on "The Cultivation of Literary Taste in little children." Among the things Miss Harrison had to say, "Early influences are the strongest and most enduring... Poetry...opens up to the mind the secrets of emotion and passion and stimulates all that is best in us. In giving a child the taste for reading we are introducing him to the greatest thoughts of the greatest men and women. The most enduring taste for poetry is learnt in early years.... there should be good substratum of fairy tales. They should have stories in which heroism and romance rouse and stimulate the imagination."
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