Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day

Thursday April 14, 2011
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Apparently today is National “Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day“, a day whose significance is being celebrated at our kids’ elementary school.    They are supposed to carry a poem in their pocket at school — there will be “poem police” who can issue tickets if the kids don’t have one (no word on what it means to get a ticket).   My kids are delighted by this and were very eager to pick out poems to bring.

Wendy wrote her own poem for the occasion:

May Flowers

Dancing
In the wind
Swaying in a wild wind
Side to side
Singing
While the wind howled
Like it was hurt.

Sam was also eager to participate, but he chose one from one of our poetry books:

The Little Turtle

There was a little turtle.
He lived in a box.
He swam in a puddle.
He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito.
He snapped at a flea.
He snapped at a minnow.
And he snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito.
He caught the flea.
He caught the minnow.
But he didn’t catch me.

~Vachel Lindsay

I have to confess, poetry is not my favorite literary form.   Somehow it doesn’t jive well with my right left-brained self (tho I do like the rhyming stuff).   As child/teen, I was a voracious reader, but mostly of  fiction.  Poetry never did much for me.  Ironically, the one poem I remember learning as a child is dismissive of the artform itself.

I think that I shall never see
a poem as lovely as a tree.

— Joyce Kilmer

Despite this, I do think it’s important to expose the kids to poetry and as such, we have a few books of verse in our house that I occasionally pull out for bedtime reading.  The kids usually grumble when I’m grab a poetry book, but once we crack it open, they are almost instantly engrossed and will beg for “just one more” for quite a while.

So, in honor of National Poetry Month in general, and Put a Poem In Your Pocket Day, in particular, I thought I would share my favorite poetry books for kids.

A Child’s First Book of Poems, by Cyndy Szekeres

My aunt gave us this when we had our first baby.  It languished for quite a while, until I deemed my kids old enough to be interested in.  I probably should not have waited so long.  The poems are delightful and wonderfully illustrated.   Sam’s selection came from this book.  Alas, it appears to be out of print, but if you could track down a copy, it’s a wonderful introduction to poetry.

Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies

I picked this up on a whim a year or so ago and I really love it.  Julie Andrews and her (grown) daughter Emma Watson have put together a beautiful collection of poems from a variety of authors.  They are organized by theme, so it’s easy to flip to whatever section grabs your interest and read through a few.   The collection includes well known authors such as Emerson, Hughes, Dickinson and Frost, but also authors I was unfamiliar with as well as a few works by Andrews herself.   I especially love that the book includes a CD of Julie Andrews reading some of her favorite poems from the book.

Runny Babbit:  A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein

If you love Shel Silverstein, you won’t want to miss this wonderfully silly book about a bunny rabbit who talks a funny way.   The illustrations are perfect and reading this book aloud (the only way to read it) results in belly laughs from reader and listeners alike.  Apparently there is a version that includes an audio cd, I would love to have that.    Here’s a selection to give you a taste:

Runny’s Jig Bump

Runny be quimble
Runny be nick,
Runny cump over the jandlestick.
But now — what smells like furning bluff?
Guess he didn’t hump jigh enough.

The World of Christopher Robin, by A. A. Milne

This is another lovely book of poetry that has laid dormant on our shelves for too long.  I bought it ages ago as part of a set with The World of Pooh and forgot about it as we dove into the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.   Some of his poetry does take a bit more concentration than some of the others I’ve shared but he weaves delightful stories and pictures with his words.  Here’s two samples:

The Morning Walk

When Anne and I go out a walk,
We hold each other’s hand and talk
Of all the things we mean to do
When Anne and I are forty-two.

And when we’ve thought about a thing,
Like bowling hoops or bicycling,
Or falling down on Anne’s balloon,
We do it in the afternoon.

The End

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever.

If you’re not a natural poetry lover, such as myself, I hope you’ll consider picking a book of verse and diving in.  I’m sure there are many many wonderful titles your local librarian could direct you to.

Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day!

This post is (ironically) linked up with Things I Love Thursdays.

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2 Responses to Put a Poem in Your Pocket Day

  1. 1
    Mel says:

    Hmm, a right brainer who doesn’t like poetry?! As if! 🙂

    Hear, hear for exposing kids to poetry. It’s very musical and a great learning tool. Thanks for the book suggestions!

  2. 2
    Kendra says:

    duh – you’re right Mel.. I’m left! I need to update my post 😉

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