Sharing stories with children is something many grownups do by reading aloud in libraries, classrooms, and at home. Doing this not only entertains children, but it also helps them to discover that the written word is a powerful thing. Today I have a review of a book packed full of poems that are perfect for reading aloud.
Selected by Jack Prelutsky
Illustrated by Marc Brown
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 3 to 6
Random House, 1986, 978-0394872186
Babies, even before they come into the world, are attuned to rhythmic sounds. They hear the beat of their mother’s heart before they are born, and can also hear the rising and falling sound of her voice. They therefore come into the world with a natural inclination to listen to sounds. Rhythmic sounds such as the purr of a car engine and the rumble of a dryer send them to sleep, and bedtime lullabies make them feel loved and safe. Since songs are “nothing more than poetry set to music,” children have an affinity for poems and they enjoy having poems read to them, especially ones that have a lilting rhyme.
In this collection of two hundred short poems grownups will find verses that were written especially for little children. The poets have taken the short attention span of their audience into account, and they use language that will resonate with their young listeners.
Some of the poems tell little stories that will amuse children, others describe activities that children enjoy doing, things such as jumping, playing hide and seek, blowing bubbles, playing in that mud, and having a bath. There are also poems that describe animals, places and things that children encounter as they go about their day.
In addition there are poems that explore the ways in which children can use their imaginations to make their world magical and full of adventures. For example in Wild Beasts a child talks about how “I will be a lion / And you shall be a bear.”
So often things seen through the eyes of a wondering child gain a depth and a significance that adults no longer know how to find. Many of these poems capture that wonder, and celebrate the marvelous in everyday things and situations. For example in Home, a child describes how he or she collects shells and then goes home. There are only four lines in the poem and yet the scene and the child’s pleasure comes through loud and clear.Throughout this splendid book, Marc Brown’s storytelling illustrations and sweet artwork vignettes are paired with the poems.