One day, sometime in my early teens, my mother mother handed me a book. I looked at it, rather puzzled. The Premier Book Major Poets, it said, An Anthology, Edited by Anita Dore.
"I know you love poetry," Mom said, "So I got you this."
I loved poetry? I couldn't remember loving poetry. In fact, I couldn't remember really thinking about poetry at all. But, hey, this was my mother, and she knew everything about me (this was in my very early teens), so I shrugged, accepted the book, and went off to read it. After all - I loved poetry.
I have never figured out if Mom was being exceptionally clueless or exceptionally brilliant when she said that. Whichever it was, that statement had a huge impact on my life. I still have that book, and have browsed through it many times, after the initial cover to cover reading. Some of my favorite poems are in there: The Portrait, by Robert Graves; The Preponderance, by William Meredith. It led me to explore poetry further - Carl Sandburg became a favorite, as did Robert Frost. Not to mention it had Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence. I still remember the shock I felt when I realized that a song could be considered a poem!
Since I like poetry so much, I have decided my children must learn to enjoy it, too. ('Cause, y'know, I'm all about the brainwashing.) So, in my typical sneaky style, I have taken to reading poetry to them as part of their bedtime stories. I slip it in oh, so nonchalantly - a poem read after a story, or a book that is in rhyme. My oldest was given a book a few years ago, Rhinoceros Tap by Sandra Boynton, which is poetry / songs (it came with a CD that we listen to in the car - I love The Crabby Song and Tickletime). We read that sometimes. I also have plans to introduce them to Lewis Carroll's poetry and Ogden Nash's The Tale of Custard the Dragon.
I'm looking for new books, though. I remember loving Shel Silverstein when I was a kid (so much so, that I didn't realize it was poetry) but I'm not sure what else is out there. Suggestions! I need suggestions! Do you have any favorite children's poetry collections? Any poets you can recommend? What can I buy my children to hook them on poetry?
Oh, and, Mom? Thanks for the book. You were right. I do love poetry.
Books/Authors: Robert Graves
Simon & Garfunkel