Happy National Poetry Month to you all! I hope you all run out and grab your nearest copy of Millay or Nash or Silverstein or Cummings and spend an afternoon wrapped up in a wonderful poem or two. While you’re at it, take this month as a fabulous excuse to introduce your children to poetry and its many forms with I Like this Poem: A Collection of Best-Loved Poems Chosen by Children for Other Children. This is, by far, the most amazingly fantastic collection of poems for children I’ve ever seen. Originally published in 1979, this collection doesn’t include some of my favorite children’s poets (i.e. Silverstein or Prelutsky) but what it does include are famous poems from every corner of literature. It’s like a primer for future English Majors (hooray!). Where else can you find The Witches’ Spell from Macbeth alongside The Owl and the Pussycat? Not to mention Roald Dahl’s I’ve Eaten Many Strange and Scrumptious Dishes in my Time (from James and the Giant Peach) a few pages away from Wordsworth’s I’ve Watched You Know a Full Half-Hour. Recommended by children ages 6-15, the best part of this collection, for me, is that after each poem, there is a quote from the child who recommended it. It’s like a poetry anthology that’s been kid approved, and it’s a must-have for any book shelf.
As the rain comes down in sheets outside the window today, I pulled out one of my favorite collections of poems and was reminded how wonderful it is. Writer Rita Gray and Illustrator Ryan O’Rourke have teamed up to create a lovely little book, One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days. This simple little book is the perfect thing to snuggle up with, tucked in a big blanket and sipping a cup of hot chocolate. And with various styles of poems, from haiku to free verse to rhyming meters, it’s a great introduction to the wonder of poetry itself. The poems themselves are organized by season, so you’ll find poems that capture the warmth of a summer rain, the harsh coldness of a winter rain and the refreshing and flower-filled rains of spring all in one book. (And imagine my joy at finding one of my favorite poems, Robert Frost’s To the Thawing Wind!) The illustrations are some of my favorites of all time – O-Rourke has outdone himself…So, go ahead and tuck yourself in today…start that pot to boil and cuddle up with this wonderful book.
In celebration of Black History Month, I wanted to be sure to recommend one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen in some time. “In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall” is a compelling and stunning collection of poems paying tribute to African American fathers from a wide variety of writers, new and old. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, this book is a treasure trove of words and collage pictures from Javaka Steptoe that will resonate with every family, no matter the color. From the introductory Ashanti proverb: “When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him”, to the poems of Folami Abiade and Sonia Sanchez, this collection is a true testament to the power and beauty of fathers everywhere.