Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Read Me a Poem, Baby

Recently, I was reminded of those sweet, tiring days when the kids were toddlers. I spent the hours entertaining my little ones with books, toys, games and poetry (in between changing diapers, cooking and cleaning, of course). The other day, my husband stumbled on an HBO special called “A Child’s Garden of Poetry,” made in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation.

In this half hour special, children discuss the meaning and mystery of poetry and recite some of their favourites by heart, including poems by Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings and William Butler Yeats. Some of the poems are recited by celebrities like Ziggy Marley, Claire Danes and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but it is the children who will astound you the most, with their beautiful and thoughtful commentary.
We showed the program to our seven-year-old daughter and our eight-year-old niece and they were spellbound by it. This inspired us to search our bookshelves for some of our long-abandoned poetry books.
We selected Favorite Poems for the Children’s Hour, which I purchased for $1 at a second-hand bookstore last year. It has a lovely selection of poems compiled under categories like the home, the country, the town, winter, etc.
What was striking to me was just how much my daughter still enjoyed poems like “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.”  I was also surprised to find she had forgotten many of the simple rhymes we used to read so often. My son at first pretended the whole poetry reading thing was not cool, but he gradually listened along.
We read several poems that evening, and then I said good night. When I went downstairs, I heard my daughter read several more poems aloud for herself and her brother.
Some of this inspiring video can be found on the Poetry Foundation’s website. Let me know what you think.

P.S. That's my little ones at the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia years ago, in a rare documented moment of sibling bliss.


  1. It is so sweet how kids are really drawn to literature. I often hear my daughter quietly reciting poetry she learned at school while she plays a game or warms my heart!