105 Ways to Give a Book

The Best Poetry Book Ever: Redux

I haven’t been at this blogging thing long enough to be recycling posts, and yet that’s what I’m doing today. I didn’t have a great Poetry Friday selection — not even a picture book that I could use. So I’m going back to the best poetry book ever, which I wrote about in July. But now it’s the holiday season, and this would make a great gift.

Poetry Speaks to ChildrenPoetry Speaks to Children is a collection of modern and classic poems from a diverse group of poets that includes Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Roald Dahl. This diversity is what I love — love — about this collection. “Gas,” by C.K. Williams — a poem that uses the word “fart” multiple times — is one page away from a poem from Macbeth. A Native American poem taken from a Osage prayer is followed my a poem by Rudyard Kipling. There is something in this book for everyone to enjoy and to relate to. The eclectic collection exposes the reader to many different styles of poetry.

And if that weren’t enough to sell this book, it is accompanied by a CD of the poems read by the poets. Thanks to archival copies, today’s children can hear readings of Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, among others. There are also readings by Nikki Giovanni and J.R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien, I said. Not all of the poems are included on the CD, but enough for an hour’s worth of driving. (Well, when do you listen to CDs?)

And there is still more, because the book involves three illustrators who bring these poems to life. One illustrator may have led to an overly consistent style of art that wouldn’t have reflected the very different kinds of poems. But with three, we get a mix of styles — while still keeping a general consistency. It would have been jarring to see radically different art styles, but though the illustrators each bring a unique flavor to the poem, the pictures flow well from one to another.

For the holiday season, package this book with a coupon for one-on-one reading time with the recipient, as it is truly a book to be shared.


Anonymous said...

thanks for this -- I'm going shopping now!

Monica Edinger said...

Loved the selections, really loved the recordings (some of which are of poets reading their own poems and some of which are of others reading poems not their own), hated the illustrations.

I prefer Caroline Kennedy's A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children illustrated by Jon Muth. The poems are wonderful (and as far ranging as in Poetry Speaks to Children), Kennedy's introductions to each section are perfect and Muth's illustrations are gorgeous.

Monica Edinger said...

You can hear a lot of poets, living and dead, read their works at the poetry archive. The children's section is quite extensive.