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Children’s Classics–Poetry

childrensclassicsI love juvenile poetry, so when I saw that June’s Children’s Classics carnival at 5 Minutes for Books was to be all about poetry, I knew just which books I wanted to highlight.

read-aloud rhymes for the very young

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young is fun anthology compiled by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown.  Need I say more?  🙂  Seriously, I figure Prelutsky knows good poetry with kid appeal when he reads it.  This is but a sampling of the many poets whose works appear in this terrific anthology:

  • Margaret Hillert
  • Dorothy Aldis
  • Edward Lear
  • Elise Holmelund Minarik
  • A.A. Milne
  • Jane Yolen
  • Aileen Fisher
  • Ogden Nash
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Charlotte Zolotow
  • Mary Ann Hoberman
  • Joan Walsh Anglund
  • Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
  • Nikki Giovanni
  • Judith Viorst
  • Langston Hughes
  • Gwendolyn Brooks
  • Jack Prelutsky (of course)
  • Many, many others

Marc Brown‘s illustrations are lovely and not too Arthur-ish.  Every page is lavishly illustrated, and since most pages contain multiple poems, the illustrations are little cameos for the individual poems.

I believe I first read about this particular anthology in Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook when I first read it many, many years ago (in fact, Jim Trelease wrote the introduction for the anthology), and we added it to our home library before Lulu was really old enough to appreciate it.  In fact, it has been a while since we’ve pulled it off the shelf; I think some poetry reading is in order here in the near future at the House of Hope.

I really can’t say enough good things about this volume.  In my opinion, this is a must-have for any home library intended for children’s use.  I’ll leave it at that and end with a few of my own favorite poems from this collection:


I wake in the morning early

And always, the very first thing,

I poke out my head and I sit up in bed

And I sing and I sing and I sing.

–Rose Fyleman

A Frog and a Flea

A frog and a flea

And a kangaroo

Once jumped for a prize

In a pot of glue;

The kangaroo stuck

And so did the flea,

And the frog limped home

With a fractured knee.

–Cynthia Mitchell

eloise wilkinsI also wanted to mention a board book anthology that is more appropriate, but just as lovely, for younger children.  Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young features many of the same poets and poems as Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, with the notable difference that Eloise Wilkin’s Poems to Read to the Very Young contains several poems by Robert Louise Stevenson, Christina G. Rosetti, and William Blake.  Josette Frank compiled this collection, and Eloise Wilkin illustrated it.  If you want a durable volume through which you can introduce very young children to poetry, this would be a great choice.  It even includes this gem of a poem that I can remember my own mother reading to me when I was a child:

Merry Sunshine

“Good morning, Merry Sunshine,

How did you wake so soon,

You’ve scared the little stars away

And shined away the moon.

I saw you go to sleep last night

Before I ceased my playing;

How did you get ‘way over there?

And where have you been staying?

“I never go to sleep, dear child,

I just go round to see

My little children of the East,

Who rise and watch for me.

I waken all the birds and bees

And flowers on my way,

And now come back to see the child

Who stayed out late to play.”


Be sure to check out 5 Minutes for Books for more poetry posts!


10 Responses

  1. Oh, I love when the experts do all the hard work for us and put the good stuff all in one place. 🙂 I’ll definitely have to check this one out as well! Thanks for the great tip.

  2. As I had reported, Kyle was really stuck on the anthology that we mentioned, so I think that I’ll check this one out too.

    I really love to read poetry aloud at bedtime, because we can spend as much time as we want (or just read two poems and kiss goodnight).

  3. I can see my son totally going for the Frog and the Flea poem here in the not-too-distant future. So far he seems to be taking after his mother. If something is TOO rhyme-y, he looses interest. Just enough to make it sing-songish seems to be where we’re at. (Like my use of cool-ish words in this comment? Sheesh.)

  4. That’s really a lovely memory — your mother reading that poem to you.

    Thanks for the intro to both of these great-looking collections.

  5. Oh…I love the “Singing-Time” poem! This sounds like a great introduction to poetry and I havent’ heard of some of these poets. I’ll have to check it out.


  6. Thanks for the lovely tip,I’ll check it out 🙂

  7. As a child, I enjoyed reading poetry. There was something musical about reading a story in rhythm and rhyme. It was melodic, soothing and fun. Poetry inspired me to read; and it inspired me to write. I invite you to read my first book, released April 1, 2009. It is called The Angry Thunderstorm. It is a charming story about an angry storm and a frightened child. When the storm explains the need for his raucous roar and his flashes of light, the reader is taken on a journey from uncertainty to understanding.

  8. I used to read “Merry Sunshine” to my sister when she was young and tried for years to find it. I discovered it as part of the google project and found it is older than the version you have. It was written by Emilie Poulsson and was used by LUCY LANGDON WILLIAMS WILSON, Ph.D. in her textbook “Nature Study in Elementary Schools: First Reader.” I thought it was fascinating that she advocated teaching nature through poetry. Go Dr. Wilson!

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