Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ring In The New Year With Poetry

The new year may be snowless, but have you seen the gorgeous full moons at night? They remind me of the wonderful poetry book Thirteen Moons on Turtle's Back by Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London. And with that thought, I wanted to remind all readers to check out poetry books every time you come to the library. They are a wonderful way to examine life with new words, with clever thoughts, condensed ideas, rhyme and rhythm!

Poetry can be very special to a child. Magical moments can be expressed in a few words. Caroline Kennedy recently published A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children. In her introduction she writes, "In our family, we were encouraged to write or choose a favorite poem for each holiday or birthday as a gift for my mother and grandparents instead of buying a card or present. My brother and I would copy over and illustrate our choices, and my mother pasted them in a special scrapbook.....My children have continued the tradition for me, including the complaining!"

If you have never read aloud poems, start the year out now with a few. There is no need to read a poetry book from cover to cover. Take out a few and browse. If you or your children fall in love with a poem, copy it. They can illustrate the poem and you can put it in a scrapbook. What a lovely memory for you and for them.

Here are a few titles to enjoy besides Caroline Kennedy's book. Take out a Shel Silverstein collection. His first is Where the Sidewalk Ends. I still remember when two of my boys recited "Boa Constrictor" together and acted it out! Oh, the giggles! Shel Silverstein also illustrates his poems with line drawings. Another large collection of poetry is The Random House Book of Poetry for Children selected by Jack Prelutsky (another poet to know). John Updike wrote 12 poems called A Child's Calendar. This is one you could take out every month to think about the seasons and chores of a year. Two poems that look wonderful as picture books are The Camel's Lament by Charles Edward Carryl and illustrated by Charles Santore. Great looking camel on the cover. The other book is Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers. The poem is so quiet, and the illustrations are perfect. I could mention book after book but I'll finish with two because I want you to know the authors. The first is a Newbery Medal winner, Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman and the other is Naomi Shihab Nye's A Maze Me: Poems for Girls. Both poets are wonderful and have a good number of books or collections out. Fleischman's book is unique in that it needs two voices for the readings. If you feel you can't do justice to them, take out the audio versions. You won't be disappointed!