On Poetry for Children

Photo courtesy Daniela Cuevas via Unsplash.

Photo courtesy Daniela Cuevas via Unsplash.

A long time ago—so long ago that I can’t find the post (although, to be fair, I only had the patience to look for three minutes or so)—I wrote about looking for poems for children. Nursery rhymes and jokey sorts are all very well, but I am a woman of distinctly unsaint-like patience (see parenthetical above), and when possible, I prefer children’s entertainment that is also meant to be palatable to adults (such as Pixar movies and a remarkable number of children’s books, which I would be happy to list in a later post if anyone is interested). Not for me are Saturday morning cartoons, Berenstain Bears, or The Wiggles, and I’m afraid to say that our son is deprived of these things thanks to his mother’s intransigence.

So some time ago, I thought to myself, “well, I should make a list of poems that aren’t meant for children but that they might like anyway,” since they seem to go over pretty well in our house (the principle applies to music, too, by the way). Edward Lear’s nonsense poems are great fun, and H likes Robert Frost quite a bit; I think the rhythms of formal poetry, particularly iambic pentameter, are soothing.

Of course, I was quite sure to file the idea in my Cabinet of Good Intentions I’ll Forget I Ever Had ™, where it remained until just a few days ago when I found that Lemony Snicket has done all the work for me.

So in lieu of a poem of the week, Dear Readers, I invite you to head over to the Poetry Foundation’s website and enjoy the hilarious introduction he’s written and the portfolio of poems he’s collected. 

8 thoughts on “On Poetry for Children

  1. Ooh. When we were little we loved Frost – I remember a picture book version of Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. There were also picture book versions of Paul Revere’s Ride and Barbara Fritchie…and maybe Hiawatha? And The Raven. Perhaps it is from here that my love of all things strongly metred has come.

    AA Milne was and is a particular favorite, though that is of course written for children.

    • We have a picture-book version of the Paul Revere poem and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” too! Hiawatha! I remember my dad reading that to me, and the Raven too–thanks for the reminder!

      You know, I have the Winnie the Pooh book and the book of poems, but I haven’t dipped into it much—now I know I should. 🙂

  2. When I saw the title of this post, Edward Lear immediately popped into my mind. I have fond memories of my elder brother reading “The Pobble Who Has No Toes” to me when I was little.

    Thanks for sharing the Poetry Foundation link. The oddness of “Yes, I live inside the piano” made me smile.

  3. This is awesome. Most of the poetry I read as a child (or had read to me) was AA MIlne. I also remember a lot of Dennis Lee. Those are both written for children, of course, but I still love AA Milne.

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