Happy April and happy Poetry Month.
When I was little, my father used to read to me. He had such a beautiful reading-aloud voice that I would sit and listen, taking in every syllable. One of the things that he liked to read to me was poetry. I had a collection of classic poetry, and we had such a marvelous time exploring the language in the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and others.
When my daughter was little I bought her the book that I have reviewed below, and she and I shared the same wonderful experiences. I reconnected with old friends, and made new ones, and to this day we will quote lines from some of the poems to each other, even though she is now an adult, living far away.
Selected by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Paul Howard
For ages 8 and up
Candlewick, 2009, 978-0763642105
In this day and age so many of us expect to be constantly entertained when we read. We like titles that have a fast-paced plot, ones that will keep us engaged all the way through the book. We are less willing to explore words and the images and emotions that they describe or conjure up. Because of this tendency, we often miss out on some wonderful stories, and we completely bypass poetry. Reading poetry can take a little more work; it is a little more demanding than a simple narrative. At the same time, poetry can give us a wonderfully rich literary experience.
For this book Michael Rosen, one of Britain’s Children’s Laureates, has selected classic poetry written by some of the world’s most wonderful English language poets. Some of the poets will be known to the reader, like William Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll, while others will become new friends.
For each poet Rosen has written a short biography, and so this book is “not only a book of classic poetry; it is also a book of classic poets.” For some of the poets Rosen has chosen more than one poem, and this will help the reader get a richer picture of what the poet cared about.
In addition to reading poems about Ozymandius, the Mock Turtle, Paul Revere’s Ride, The Jumblies, and much more, readers can read the poet’s biographies, looks at portraits of them, and admire the art that Paul Howard has created to accompany the poems.
This is a title that young and nor-so-young readers will dip into again and again, and it is a book that they will surely enjoy for many years to come.