Monday, November 4, 2013

A Book for Poetry Teatime

As we continue to enjoy our "Poetry Teatime" daily, I thought I'd share one of our favourite books that we've used recently.

Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost

My children are still a bit young for Robert Frost (ages five and under), and yet I don't think he is a bad choice for when you decide to step out and explore beyond Mother Goose and Robert Louis Stevenson's Child's Garden of Verses. There are many connection points for children, as Frost mentions cows, apple orchards, and many other country themes. It's true that they may not grasp the full meaning of the poems, but it may be that even I do not. I think that the best poetry is poetry that grows with you. A child may hear "The Road Not Taken" and picture in his mind his last nature walk in the woods, where there was a fork in the path. I, with a fuller life experience, may muse about the choices I've made in my life and the difference they've made. Someone with different life experiences than mine might experience this poem in a much more profound way than I do. I think it would be a mistake to keep poetry from children just because there is very little possibility they will fully understand and appreciate it. They enjoy it in their own way, and it is enough for now.

This particular collection is edited by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by Henri Sorensen. The paintings are beautiful. I know Ambleside Online recommends this series with reservations because of the illustrations (I think the reasoning is that it is better to be drawing vivid pictures in your imagination as you hear the poetry.). But for my pre-reading children, the illustrations allow them to choose which poems they would like to hear, and come back to their favourites. I have a couple of issues with the editing, though. First, they did not include "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" which, along with "The Road Not Taken," is probably one of the first poems that come to anyone's mind on hearing Robert Frost's name. I also found the inclusion of "Out, Out --" a bit of an odd choice for a book intended for young people (A child is cutting wood and accidentally cuts off his hand, then later dies because of his injury.). Finally, each poem has an explanatory note of two or three sentences. I'm not sure how necessary or desirable this is...I think I'd prefer to allow the reader to take what they can from the poem as it is. However, these notes are short and written in fine print following the poems, so they are not as obtrusive as they might have been.

Overall, we have enjoyed this collection very much. The boys have even discovered some favourites that they like to hear over and over again. (SA likes "Mending Wall," JJ likes "The Cow in Apple Time.") This was a library book, but I have added it to my "to buy" list. I look forward to checking out other poets in this series for our poetry teatimes.

I'll be linking up this post with Read Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word blog.


  1. This is a beautiful book, Nelleke! It seems we share a taste in books!

    1. I love books, and I miss stumbling across great new ones all the time as I did when I was selling them. The library is great though, and we're starting to get into a rhythm of going there.