All literature is created from our need to tell stories—about ourselves, others, or about the world—asserts The International Board on Books for Young People. Every story, fable, myth, or novel is the result of basic needs: they help us to understand the world, to live, survive, and also to help children grow up and to enrich their development.
Reading to Children
Learning to read begins with learning to listen, notes the Board. During the first months of an infant’s life, he learns to recognize his mother’s voice. From this and other voices, the infant begins to find his own voice and unique, personal language. While family and friends sing a song or tell a story, the baby realizes the poetic voice of those around him, a difference from the regular tone of conversation. The poetic timbre of reading and singing introduce children to the world of literature.
It’s crucial that we tell stories and read aloud to children, whether these are invented stories, remembered tales, or passages read from a storybook. Such times are precious and privileged moments, filled with tenderness and affection, where a child can discover the power of story and its magic.
What is the first book or story you recall that was read to you? Do you remember the first book you read to a special child in your life? What was it? What made this book important? Maybe it seemed as though it was read several hundred times over the course of a childhood. Think about the tale, the feelings or emotions you experienced, perhaps even the expressions of the child, and create a poem from it. Alternately, you could write your poem from the book’s perspective.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here is a poem from Andrew we enjoyed:
When death seems ever present, and the moon
Gives out but half its nightly shine
Then I will sing some half forgotten tune
Enchanting in its melody and rhyme.
Sweet words to go with bitter heart!
The book that’s bound can also bind
The soul of he who reads of it.
Ah, but to go without is to be blind!
To never see the towers made of gold,
Or breathe the heady scent of honey
Found in some delighting insect’s bower –
To never smell the midnight blooming flower
Or walk the sands of time, never to look
At what was past. Steadfast, instead, to go
Where one may look upon the pages of the book
That is one’s life, and see what you already know
Writ large as life itself. And then, to see the close
Of your own tome, knowing it for your tomb
But still to laugh, and read the lines, escaping
Not just your own drab space of chair and room.
And then, before the ending comes
To lift brave head and sing that tune
Once sung when death seemed present
And the shine was missing from the moon.
Photo by ThomasLife. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland