Once in a while, I sit down to review something for CMP and have trouble with it. Not for lack of words, but because my daughter has somehow gotten her hands on the item and refuses to give it back.
This was the case with Poetry Speaks to Children. In the spirit of candor, my daughter’s not exactly reading books yet, at just 17 months. Surely what she was responding to were the bright, inviting picture book illustrations–a far cry from the precious woodcuts associated with poetry books of yore.
But as she gets a little older, I know she’ll be equally excited by the amazing range of works that go along with the drawings. Do not expect nursery rhymes here–this is serious poetry. And yet there’s little that kids will fiind serious about it. They’ll be engaged by kid-friendly works from the likes of Ogden Nash, Gwendolyn Brooks, Roald Dahl, and and my modern-day favorite, Billy Collins (who was also one of the advisory editors of the tome alongside Nikki Giovanni and X.J. Kennedy). It’s no suprise the book spent so long on the New York Times bestseller list when it was released last year.
An accompanying CD features 58 of the poems, so children have the benefit of hearing greats like Langston Hughes and Margaret Wise Brown read their very own words.
You can check out a few pages or listen to excerpts from the CD here. Or take my advice and just buy it. Even if you’ve got the type of kid who says, "ew, poetry;" in which case you can just open right to page 24 and start with C.K. Williams’ poem about farts. He’ll change his tune in no time. –Liz