Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: Poetry for Children
I am only writing this post because a couple of weeks ago I more or less prostrated myself soliciting topic suggestions, so I feel obligated...obligated and bitter.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I do not condone inflicting poetry upon innocent and impressionable minds. Read your kids books on Java Script, or marketing, or advanced particle physics, anything but poetry. It will only lead them to lives of frustration and heartache--not to mention insanely expensive and useless liberal arts degrees.
Not convinced? Mull this little nugget over: reading poetry to your young ones greatly increases the likelihood that when they become teenagers, they will write ugly and prescient little poems about you, your job, your politics and the way you dress. Rest assured, they will post these on facebook.
What I'm trying to get at here is that poetry encourages children to think for themselves, which leads them to ask "why?" about issues you do not begin to understand. And because poetry tends to give one a love of language, your child will rarely resort to those annoying little emoticons in their emails because they will actually have the vocabulary to express themselves. All of these traits, you have to agree, will seriously hinder your child's social and financial future.
I realize most of you will not heed my warnings, so if you must read verse to your kids, at least read them good poetry, not the syrupy-sweet greeting card stuff. The world is disheartening and disappointing enough without starting out life with a head full of mistaken ideas about its friendliness. Bears are not cute and do not as a rule teach valuable life lessons. Bears eat people.
And that, ultimatedly, is what it comes down to: if you read poetry to your kids, they'll be eaten by bears.
The choice is yours.
Children's Poetry from Harris County Public Library's collection:
The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury / selected by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Meilo So
ANYTHING by Dr. Seuss
Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky / illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Brats and Fresh Brats / X. J. Kennedy; illustrated by James Watts
Bronzeville Boys and Girls / Gwendolyn Brooks; illustrated by Faith Ringgold
A Child's Calendar / poems by John Updike: illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Collected Poems for Children / edited by Ted Hughes; illustrated by Raymond Briggs
The Complete Poems of Winnie-The-Pooh / by A. A. Milne; decorations by Ernest H. Shepard
Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection / selected by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Paul Howard
F E G: Ridiculous [Stupid] Poems for Intelligent Children / by Robin Hirsch, with the assistance of Benjamin Jaglom Hirsch
The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders / by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Petra Mathers
If Not for the Cat / by Jack Prelutsky
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices / by Paul Fleischman; illustrated by Eric Beddows
Just about anything by Shel Silverstein
The Kids Pick the Funniest Poems Series / edited by Bruce Lansky, et al.
Love to Mamá / edited by Pat Mora; illustrated by Paula S. Barragán
The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America / edited by Donald Hall
Pass It On: African American Poetry for Children / selected by Wade Hudson; illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts / poems and quilts by Anna Grossnickle Hines
A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems / selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illustrated by Chris Raschka
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children / selected by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Arnold Lobel
Sad Underwear & Other Complications: More Poems for Children and their Parents / by Judith Viorst; illustrated by Richard Hull
Science Verse / Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
This Same Sky: Poems from Around the World / edited by Naomi Shihab Nye
Where the Sidewalk Ends / written and illustrated by Shel Silverstein
Winter Eyes / poems and paintings by Douglas Florian
Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here: How-to-write poetry books for kids:
A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms / selected by Paul B. Janeczko; illustrated by Chris Raschka
Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets / compiled by Paul B. Janeczko
Pizza, Pigs & Poetry: How to Write a Poem / Jack Prelutsky
There are literally hundreds of children's poetry titles in Harris County Public Library's collection. Dig around. I guarantee you'll find just the right book to ruin your kids' lives.
Special thanks to Scott McC. for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to stop putting off this post, and I'll get him for it, if it's the last thing I do.
Photo Credit: reproducinggenius.com