Summer is just the right time to discover new poets and add poems into your home life. With the school year and all that must be accomplished left behind, reading poetry can become source of delightful “that’s me!… and you, too?” moments with loved ones. Although it is easy to put poetry in the “too hard and too good for you” category, enjoying how words are put together and how they capture the joys and sorrows of everyday life may add another layer to the making of good summer memories. Just like a dish of freshly picked strawberries or a bowl of homemade peach ice cream, these poems will tickle your lips and make your heart happy.
John Updike’s “June” from his 1965’s A Child’s Calendar, captures the joy of summer.
The sun is rich
And gladly pays
In golden hours,
And long green weeks
That never end.
School’s out. The time
Is ours to spend.
There’s Little League,
Hopscotch, the creek,
And, after supper,
The live-long light
Is like a dream,
and freckles come
Like flies to cream.
Poems and picnics with a few friends, young and old, can create delightful Saturday summer memories. Lazing around on a porch swing with a child and few poems sounds nice for a Sunday afternoon. I am partial to a pancake breakfast with a few shared poems read around the table.
Here are some books to check out and share with a child or two in your life. You can decide on the setting.
- Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child’s Book of Poems (illustrated by nine Caldecott Medal artists). This book has poems that rhyme and are funny, and poems about emotions, the weather, animals, people, and more. The illustrations pages make this a perfect way to enjoy good words.
- Eric Carle’s Dragons, Dragons and Other Creatures That Never Were also pairs fantastic pictures—Eric’s painted-cut paper style—with a plethora of poems about storied creatures.
- Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Eric Beddows. These poems were written to be read aloud by two readers at once, one person taking the left side and one person taking the right side of the poem. It’s a playful book that takes words and the natural life seriously. Many of the insects that are described in poem form are found in the summer.
- Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye. This book is wonderful for a teenager who is interested in poetry and in voices of those from other countries and cultures. Naomi speaks to the particulars of her life but also to all that is universal in being human.
- Jazz ABZ: An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits by Wynton Marsalis, illustrated by Paul Rogers. Starting with Louis Armstrong and ending with Dizzy Gillespie, readers will learn about important jazz musicians and singers, as well as different types of poems such as limericks and ballads. Not only that, each poem about each person is filled with words that start with a certain letter; for example, the John Coltrane poem is full of words starting with C. The graphics and the illustrations are just as mesmerizing. Summer and jazz music go together in my mind, so I suggest playing some of the music by the musicians in the book or discover more of Wynton Marsalis’s musical brilliance.
When my daughters were younger they memorized the first stanza of this classic Robert Louis Stevenson poem because I would recite it while pushing them on the swing. What a delightful memory. I hope you will find good words and verses to create memories with the ones you love.
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
I’ll be sharing specific poets, poems, and activities in the next post.
Swing photo by senivpetro