Poetry for Children

Whenever I go to a children’s bookstore of the children’s book section of a chain store, I’m dismayed and disappointed by the choices of children’s poetry on hand. True, Chris Raschka has illustrated some gems and John Hollander, a personal hero, has made some amazing selections. Overall, however, the choices are slim.

Glad I am, then, to have the books of my girlhood. Today, my daughter chose the Golden Treasury of Poetry (c. 1957; 1974, ed. by Louis Untermeyer) as her reading tonight. The pictures are by Joan Walsh Anglund: charming but a little insipid. We flip through the book: a big, 300-page treasury, and she chooses based on whether the pictures are in color (every page is illustrated, but only 10 percent or so are in color) and if that color picture appeals. I don’t generally read either the title or the poet but just dive right in.

Tonight, she loved two by Robert Louis Stevenson, Ogden Nash, Louis Untermeyer, and an Untermeyer modernization of part of Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” (“That’s a very good knight!”). She could tell that Lewis Carrol’s “Father William” was funny without understanding it, but, when I read a bit of Wordsworth to her, she closed her eyes and began to pretend to snore.

That’s always been my feeling about The Prelude, too…

*(I admire and respect Wordsworth and I genuinely love the Intimations Ode, Tintern Abbey and many other shorter lyrics. I just can't do The Prelude.)