Thursday, March 02, 2006

Poetry Reading

As a child I can remember complaining to my mother about poetry. She pointed out a book on her shelf next to her bed and said that was her favorite poetry book. I remember looking at the book, it had a lot of pages with illustrations of babies growing in a mothers womb, and I remember not understanding the words, which didn't suprise me as I was pretty sure people didn't really understand poetry. It didn't change my dislike for the subject.

Later when I was homeschooled, during my last two years of high school, my mom suggested that I do a poetry unit. I read about poems, followed formulas and illustrated my own poetry book. I began a little and mostly depressing poetry book of my own. I wrote free verse and sent a couple off to be published. I got a letter back saying they had accepted one for publication, the one my mother said was very good and I was rather proud of myself. The book was $40 if you wanted to see your work in print with all of the other selections. We couldn't afford $40 for a book so did not get it. My dad said that they published everyones poems that are sent in just so they can make money on selling them the book. I was crushed to think they hadn't chosen it on its merit, so I never wrote poetry anymore. I had never had interest in reading poetry, so it was written off as a lost subject.

As I began homeschooling I read what Charlotte Mason said about poetry. I figured that I should give my kids the chance to hear it even if I didn't like it. We started with "When We Were Very Young" by AA Milne. I really fumbled it in my reading, trying to read it a sing-song way which didn't work and then trying it just like any other read aloud and that didn't work either. Then we got a tape, the "Tales of Winnie the Pooh" by AA Milne read by Charles Karault and it had both of his collection of poems. I was fascinated, that poetry was fabulous. Then I read it again to my children and this time I got it. I was so excited. I love reading AA Milne's poem now. I can't recommend them highly enough.

We branched out to "A Child's Garden of Verse," by Robert Louis Stevenson, and "Sing Song," by Christina Rossetti. The former is great and the latter is a bit sad, in a way it is a gentle introduction to death. We have explored many emotions with these books. We have also read parts of a few children's anthologies and are now reading Walter de la Mare. Do I always get it? No. But sometimes I do, and that is worth the effort.

So how do we do this? It is very simple, I read them one poem every morning at breakfast. Sometimes we talk about it, sometimes we don't.

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