With April comes Easter, bluebonnets, spring showers and ... poetry! It's National Poetry Month and your local library and bookstore have a great variety of resources available for poetry lovers of all ages.
FOR THE VERY YOUNG
"Rufus and Friends: Rhyme Time"
by Iza Trapani
Iza Trapani has taken 14 commonly known nursery rhymes and extended them, adding extra verses to each in the same rhyme and meter as the original. The rhymes she has chosen here tend to include a lot of alliteration and wordplay, creating a wonderful opportunity for parents to explore language sounds with their younger children. A delightful pack of expressive dogs, led by the floppy-eared Rufus, acts out the stories on each page.
"Give Yourself to the Rain: Poems for the Very Young"
by Margaret Wise Brown
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002
Margaret Wise Brown, beloved author of such books as "Goodnight Moon" and "The Runaway Bunny," also wrote many poems for children over her illustrious career. They were collected for this volume in 2002. The gentle verses offer tribute to some of the favorite things in childhood _ flowers, weather, seasons, animals and nature. "Pig Jig" is especially amusing and fun to read aloud.
FOR ELEMENTARY GRADES
"Don't Bump the Glump"
by Shel Silverstein
Harper Collins, 1964
This wry collection of poems was first published by Shel Silverstein in 1964 and came back into print in 2008. This was Silverstein's first poetry collection, and also the only one he illustrated in full color. Silverstein introduces us to a whimsical variety of fantasy animals. These range from harmless, amusing oddities such as Arnold, the Long-Neck Preposterous, to more mirthfully menacing creatures like the Man-Eating Fullitt. The illustration shows only his tail, with a piece of advice from Silverstein _ "Let's not pull it." Fans of "Where the Sidewalk Ends" will find this to be creepy rhyming fun.
"Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat"
(Book and CD)
Selected by Nikki Giovanni
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2008
"One part story, one part rhythm." That's how Nikki Giovanni describes hip-hop, and to demonstrate she has chosen a delightful assortment of works that take us on an excursion through the history of black poetry. This multimedia set presents the poems through both words on a page and words spoken, rapped and sung on the CD that accompanies the book. The works here span several decades; Langston Hughes explains his inspiration for "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"; while Queen Latifah raps in celebration of womanhood in the verse "Ladies First." Every poem in this collection comes to life beautifully when read aloud; let the CD start you off, and you do the rest.
"The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip Hop and the Poetry of a New Generation"
(Book and CD)
by Mark Eleveld (editor), Marc Kelly Smith (narrator) and Billy Collins (author)
Poetry slam is the art of performing poetry as part of an open competition. It's an art form that has gained popularity in the past decade, giving rise to what commentator Marc Smith calls "the spoken word revolution." Unlike many other anthologies, all the poetry in this collection is recent, reflecting the influence of beat and hip-hop, and the CD that comes with the book shows how the words and music mesh.
FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
"A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children"
Collected by Caroline Kennedy
In the preface to this eclectic collection of more than 100 well-known poems, Kennedy discusses the importance that her famous family placed on sharing poetry together while she was growing up. She has selected poems from such classic authors as T.S. Eliot, Edward Lear, Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, William Shakespeare, and even her own mother, writing as Jacqueline Bouvier. Poems for children and adults are included, making this a multigenerational treat.
"Poetry Speaks Expanded: Hear Poets Read Their Own Work From Tennyson to Plath"
(Book and CD)
by Elise Paschen and Rebekah Presson Mosby
From the earliest days, poetry was meant to be read aloud, and 47 of the most celebrated poets of our time from all over the world share their most famous works in this impressive collection. The CD included with this print collection includes rare selections from the beginning of recorded sound, including "The Charge of the Light Brigade" as read by Lord Alfred Tennyson, and Walt Whitman reading "America," as well as more recent selections from writers like Jack Kerouac and Sylvia Plath. Poetry lovers will cherish this collection; those who are less familiar with it may find that the voices of the authors give the works a whole new resonance and meaning.
Claire Abraham is a children's librarian at the Fort Worth Public Library. © 2009, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.