April: The month of Poetry

This post was written by Margaret Kirkpatrick at the Carlingwood Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I was raised by a mother who recited poetry to us often. Some of the poems that were such a part of my childhood life are still a part of my adult life. It is my pleasure to introduce these books to you. My favourites, as I hope they will become favourites in your family as well. And next time you are at Ottawa Public Library, why don’t you ask the Children’s Staff which poetry books are their favourites? Have fun.

Animal Crackers: A Delectable Collection of Pictures, Poems, and Lullabies for the Very Young. Jane Dyer.

Readers will find poems that invite play and participation and others that set a mood or calm a baby. The poems are illustrated with Dyer's soft, old-fashioned watercolour paintings that create a warm, comfortable world in which children are safe and loved. The illustration accompanying Christopher Morley's "Animal Crackers" gives the reader a top view of a plate of cookies and a cup of cocoa, complete with melting marshmallow, waiting for the reader to join the feast. The handsome book design, adds to the charm of Dyer's delectable volume.

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. Pictures by Barbara McClintock.

McClintock’s illustrations will attract a whole new generation to this timeless book of poems. This book has been a favourite in our family, throughout generations. Stevenson's interest in cultivating the world of the imagination is beautifully done. If you are looking for a poem to begin with, try My Shadow, or The Swing. Favourites at our house! Lego builders will love Block City, and Bed in Summer will be a perfect poem for summer bedtimes.

Rhymes Round the World, Kay Chorao

These 40 poems and songs offer children a taste of many different cultures. Most are anonymous or traditional nursery rhymes. The tone is light and joyous. Sweet illustrations of babies and toddlers engaged in playful activities depict the universality of children everywhere. And talking about universality – I like the poem Day’s End. Try Kay Chorao’s other books as well. They are all available at Ottawa Public Library.

Sleep, Baby, Sleep: Lullabies and Night Poems. Selected and Illustrated by Michael Hague.

Keeping with our bedtime theme, here is a book full of “lullabies and night poems”. This collection of 51 bedtime rhymes is divided into lullabies, night poems, and musical arrangements for piano and guitar. Lovely illustrations, for some old-favourite poems, and some new ones too. The thought of going to sleep while being read poems, or even better, being song poems seems a kind of perfection.

Til All The Stars Have Fallen: Canadian Poems for Children. Selected by David Booth. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

This superb collection of poems is as varied as it is delightful. The illustrations, rendered in watercolour, ink, and linoleum-block printing, are so different from one another, and so right for each individual poem, that it's hard to believe they were all done by the same artist. Like the poems they illustrate, they are humorous, pensive, dreamlike and playful, soft and bold. Some of the poems demand to be read aloud as much as others need to be seen on the page. Kady MacDonald Denton is an illustrator to discover, and to enjoy.

Eric Carle’s Dragons Dragons & other creatures that never were. Compiled by Laura Whipple.

A well-chosen, gorgeously illustrated collection of poetry: not only dragons but a worldwide collection of fabulous beasts--yeti, Quetzalcoatl, okolo, Pan, kracken, and many more--. The interest level is consistently high--especially when coupled with Carle's flamboyant art. The mid-section is a four page spread of a Chinese Dragon, which will capture every readers’ attention.

The Dragons are Singing Tonight. Poems by Jack Prelutsky, Pictures by Peter Sis.

A combination of author, illustrator, and subject that is certain to have a great deal of appeal. Dragons are verbally and visually portrayed in this collection with wonder, whimsy, and a touch of wistfulness. The richness of Prelutsky’s language and the playfulness of the imagination are abundant; and Sis's illustrations are charmingly unique, sometimes deceptively simple, and certainly filled with the kind of playful wizardry that invites viewers to return again and again to these pages.

Do you read poetry with your children? What are some favourites?