Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, and Sam I Am. Although it may have been years (or decades) since we’ve intentionally invested our time in reading poetry, most of us can recall these childhood rhymes with little to no effort. They’ve been stored deeply within our memories alongside Christmas carols and favorite birthday presents. Memorizing them came at little cost – we loved the words, the rhythm, the beautiful illustrations, and the endless repetition, which provided comfort in a sometimes-unpredictable world.
Poetry is the liveliest use of language, and nobody knows more instinctively how to take delight in that playfulness than children. – Serious Play: Reading Poetry with Children
Poetry invites us into a magical realm where individual words, each which alone have only their assigned meaning, can be arranged in such a way as to result in a thing of beauty… or mystery… or cleverness.
To discover and enjoy poetry with our children is to cultivate their love of language.
Poetry can provide a vibrant thread to be woven into the unique fabric of our family culture. In our home, “Who left the door open?” is often met quickly with the response, “Mr. Nobody.” Jonathan Blake, who ate too much cake, can serve as a warning for all those consuming too many sweets. “I eat my peas with honey” (the first lines of a clever poem taken in Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin) is often chanted when those particular veggies are served for dinner, and it wouldn’t be Christmas without, A Visit from St. Nicholas.
The role poetry plays in family life can shift and grow as our children get older. This month, our family is reading and discussing Sounding of the Seasons, a book of sonnets written by Malcolm Guite. Although it has been a stretch from our typical reading, the outflow of conversation has been rich. The potent words and phrases seeped down deep into their souls. In response, the children made their first attempts at illuminating a few of the sonnets. I was stopped by how much they saw, understood, and had been stirred. Guite’s poetry has added richness and vibrancy to our Lenten season.
April is National Poetry Month. We want to join the celebration. If you haven’t read Liz Cottrill’s recent post on poetry, make a few minutes this week to do so. It’s excellent. Wednesday, we’ll be sharing some suggested books of poetry that you may consider adding to your family library. Friday, you can expect a special treat – a poem written specifically for the Story Warren Community by poet Aaron Belz. Plan to join in the fun.