The Magic of Words: A Child's Introduction to Poetry edited by Michael Driscoll
Poetry Month is almost here, and lovers of the language are looking for ways to turn children on to poetry without the turn off that so many remember from their school days.
Michael Driscoll's A Child's Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry takes the middle way. His introduction to poetry begins with the light stuff--nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, and limericks--with plenty of humor, easy on the technical talk. In fact, there's neither onomatopoeia nor anapest in his explanatory text, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't do justice to the genres of poetry as well as its joys.
In Part One, Driscoll moves through those basic genres--nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, limericks, haiku, narrative and lyric verse, ballads and pastoral verse, the sonnet and free verse, as well as what he terms "Poems Peculiar," a catchall group that includes epitaphs, alphabet rhymes, riddles, shaped poems and the like. Each type has its description, history, and samples from well-known poets, all with ample illustrations. Boxes titled "Words for the Wise" define words and devices, such as "wanton" and "symbol," used in the poems, and glosses explain the poets' meanings stanza by stanza. The pedagogy is accomplished with a light touch, backed up by plenty of humorous pictures. After all, who could resist the sheer pleasure of word play in this economical little epitaph?
HERE LIES LESTER MOORE.
FOUR SLUGS FROM A .44--
Part Two takes on a historical structure, beginning with Homer's Iliad, and including major past poets--Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson and Rudyard Kipling, with kid-friendly but solid selections from each. Later poets featured are W. H. Auden, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Seamus Heaney, Octavio Paz, and Maya Angelou. A compact disc of poems by these writers is included within the book's jacket to provide the sound of the spoken poem as an extension of the poem on the printed page.
Of course, no one volume can do justice to the universe of poetry available in English. Other favorably reviewed introductions include X. J. Kennedy's Knock at a Star: A Child's Introduction to Poetry and Elise Paschen's Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) (Read & Hear).
Labels: Poetry for Children (Grades 3-7)