Reflections on Children’s Poetry, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Lorax
By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
One day several years ago, when my children were small, it occurred to me that perhaps I was letting them watch too much television. I had this particular epiphany after an episode of Teletubbies led me to idly speculate what sort of expensive pharmaceutical usage had led to the invention of the aforementioned pudgy nonsense-spouting creatures, and if the ensuing commercial success of the Teletubbies then enabled the program’s creators and producers to be able to afford more of whatever controlled substance had been instrumental in bringing Dipsy, Po, Laa Laa, and Tinky-Winky into existence. And then there’s Caillou. (Which translates to “small smooth pebble” in French. You’re welcome.) Do not get me started on that whiny, round-headed little twerp. * Even hearing his name all these years later makes me immediately start casting around for a sharp object. If an animated children’s television show inspires such sinister thoughts, it’s probably not a great idea to let your kid watch a ton of it.
I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet—
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.
I’ve always been a bookworm, and I read to my kids (okay, technically I suppose I was reading to my burgeoning midsection, but you know what I mean) even before they entered the world, but maybe it was time to step it up a notch from Eric Carle and Lucy Cousins to something a little loftier. Poetry? What a great idea!
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
So. Where to begin? At the library, of course, after a brief detour to the local ice cream parlor. (It’s merely a suggestion. If you prefer active culture frozen yogurt with organic mix-ins, go for it. Just don’t judge me.) Here we go–Shakespeare, Silverstein, Seuss. Nesbitt and Nash. Milne, Moore, Millay. Prelutsky and Poe. In case you’re wondering, and I really hope you aren’t, those beautiful, haunting verses created by Edgar Allan Poe may ignite a fire in your adult soul but are generally not appropriate for– or amusing to– your average preschooler. That old saw about knowing your audience definitely holds true when diving into the poetry pool with your child. In other words, if you decide to make a foray into poetry with your kiddo, don’t overthink it. Whether you choose The Giving Tree or Green Eggs and Ham, or something else entirely, enjoy the exploration of a new genre with your child. And . . .
When called by a panther/Don’t anther.
Suggested sources for children’s poetry, in no particular order:
- Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
- A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
- The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash
- Shout! Little Poems That Roar by Brod Bagert
- Here’s a Little Poem collected by Jane Yolen
- Treasury of Poetry selected by Alistair Hedley
*Opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and in no way reflect the philosophy or preferences of the Williamson County Public Library, its staff members, their families, friends, or pets.
Posted on April 24, 2015, in Kids and tagged Alistair Hedley, Brod Bagert, children's poetry, Jack Prelutsky, Jane Yolen, Ogden Nash, poetry, Shel Silverstein, Stacy Parish. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.