Pictures make poetry appealing to young—April 2, 2010
April is National Poetry Month, which was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. It is a month-long celebration intended to widen the attention of individuals to the art of poetry.
There are many wonderful books of poetry in the non-fiction section of the children’s department. However, there are also many poetry books in the picture book area which can be used to introduce poetry to very young children.
Sometimes a single poem is turned into a picture book, such as “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” by Eugene Field, “Harlem” by Walter Dean Myers, and “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “My People” by Langston Hughes. The illustrators of these picture books choose a variety of ways to bring the poems to life for children. Sarah Josepha Hale wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” nearly 200 years ago, and Bruce McMillan turned that familiar poem into a picture book illustrated with photographs of a little girl and her lamb. “I Love You” by Jean Marzollo is a rebus poem, with small pictures representing the rhyming words. Young children can help you read the poem by supplying the word for each picture.
Collections of Mother Goose rhymes are popular, and the illustrations in each are unique. “Counting Your Way: Number Nursery Rhymes” is illustrated with paintings by Andrea Petrlik Huseinovic, while “Twinkle, Twinkle: An Animal Lover’s Mother Goose” is illustrated with photographs by Bobbi Fabian. Clare Beaton used hand-sewn illustrations in “Mother Goose Remembers.” “The Glorious Mother Goose” contains illustrations by some of the best illustrators of the past, and the “Will Moses Mother Goose” is illustrated with paintings by the great-grandson of Grandma Moses.
Some collections are made up of poems all written by the same person, such as “The Three Bears Rhyme Book” by Jane Yolen, “I’m Gonna Tell Mama I Want an Iguana” by Tony Johnston, and “Dirt on My Shirt” and “Silly Street” by comedian Jeff Foxworthy. Other collections contain selections by different poets, such as “Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young,” selected by Jack Prelutsky, and “Granny Will Your Dog Bite and Other Mountain Rhymes,” collected by folklorist Gerald Milnes from his West Virginia mountain neighbors.
Some books contain poems about a certain subject. In “Flicker Flash” by Joan Bransfield Graham, each poem is about light. The words of the poems are arranged on the page in the shape of what they are describing. “Truck Talk: Rhymes on Wheels” by Bobbi Katz contains poems about many vehicles, from garbage trucks to ice cream trucks. Lois Ehlert created short poems for her book “Oodles of Animals” and illustrated the book with collage pictures of the animals made with a variety of colored papers and scissors, pinking shears, and a hole punch.
I think that poetry is best when it is read aloud. Share a book of poetry with your children this month!