Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday: Poetry

You've probably caught on to the fact that many many children's books are in rhyme. Dr. Seuss' books are a prime example. While I enjoy rhymes and find them fun to read aloud, I also enjoy reading actual poetry to my daughter.

Need a definition of the distinction? Sorry, don't have one on the top of my head. (Anyone want to help me figure it out? Leave a comment!) But I can share a few of the books I read to Uli which I consider poetry rather than just rhymed prose (emphasis on "I consider"):

by Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Chris Raschka

From the book's jacket the poem is described as one which "inspires us all to trust our hearts" and "a hymn to the power of art and of love." The illustrations show us a young girl dancing with her mother and community and receiving comfort when sad.

I enjoy reading it to Uli because it's short (sometimes you only have time for a quick read!), because it's positive (make the sky sing a Black song / sing a blue song / sing my song), and because the pictures are easy to describe (mainly people dancing or hugging on a plain brown background:  it's easy for my toddler to count the people on a page, or name colors, or ask about the action on the page).

One repeated line/warning in the poem is "don't prick your finger," which thus far I haven't needed to discuss with Uli. I'll have to put on my Literature Hat for that one. Otherwise, it's a very approachable book.

by Douglas Florian

LOVE this book! It's a collection of twenty-one bug-themed poems (who doesn't like BUGS?), each with a corresponding painting. The artwork is clever but the poems are even better. Uli loves to hear them. Her favorite? 

The Daddy Longlegs
(O Daddy / Daddy O / How'd you get / Those legs to grow / So very long / And lean in size? / From spiderobic / Exercise?).

I think my favorites are either

The Dragonfly
(For lunch I much / On flies and bees. / Mosquitoes with / My feet I seize)


The Praying Mantis
(Upon a twig / I sit and pray / For something big / To wend my way).

by e.e. cummings
illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

This short, enjoyably illustrated book uses Cummings' poem to explore a Halloween night. The poem and pictures could be too scary/worrysome to some small children (look out for the old woman / with the wart on her nose / what she'll do to yer / nobody knows), but I (and Uli) appreciate the "revelation" on the last page that shows all the spooky characters introduced earlier were just children dressed-up in costumes, having Halloween fun. Uli enjoys the read (and specifically asks for "hist whist," which I find adorable).

And finally,

by Sally Fitz-Gibbon
illustrated by Brian Deines

In this children's book, a girl describes a day on her uncle's farm. The story is told in first-person, non-rhyming lines. (Back in the garden of peas, beans, and carrots / of strawberries staining my fingers and mouth / I twirl in the middle of cabbage and lettuce / my toes in the deep earth / my arms to the breeze). The impressionist-style pictures add to the free-whirling charm of the poetry. Uli regularly asks this to be read to her at bedtime.

So, just a small selection of books I consider poetry which my daughter enjoys as much as I. Do you have favorites? I'm all ears when it comes to book recommendations!


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