Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Poetry Appreciation Reignited

Our children have always loved poetry but after an unsettling run-in with James Whitcomb Riley's Little Orphan Annie* Max vowed to never read poetry again.

A careful choosing of our next poet was required. Would it be a nonsensical romp with Edward Lear or the faster than thought and lighter than air poetry of Emily Dickinson? A trip to the library settled everything as our children's librarian had wisely shelved Jane Yolen's 2009 picture-book My Uncle Emily face out, capturing all our attention.

My boys immediately warmed to the relationship between 6-year-old Gib and his favorite "uncle," Emily Dickinson, with whom he shares a love of poetry and bees. Based on the poem "Tell All the Truth" we gain an appreciation of the poet's life, her poetry, and the importance of being sensitive while remaining honest. While we've always used only poetry itself for poetry appreciation, Jane Yolen has given us such a living introduction to Emily Dickinson that I am sure our beloved Charlotte Mason would applaud and then add it to her own book list.

As for our home, the love of poetry has been restored. Thank you Jane and Emily.

Tell All the Truth

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

Emily Dickinson

*I learned my lesson and will always pre-read. I'm sure we'll return to Mr. Riley at some point by Year 12.


Footprints Diary said...

Hi Richele,
There is some excellent poetry out there - I love Edward Lear!

Psalm 1 by Isaac Watts is another of my favourites, and also The Touch of the Master's Hand. :D

Have a wonderful week,

~Maria said...

Hi Richele! I love your schedule and scope & sequence pages. I am still working on my pages but I am hoping to at least get our schedule up too. It's so nice to see what works for other people and see if there is something that we can try that may make things flow more smoothly. We have so much in common but you totally inspire me! :) ~Maria

Amy in Peru said...

I love Jane Yolen too! I'm so glad you found that gem! I'll have to keep it in mind for if we are ever in the States for an extended amount of time! ;)

amy in peru

Jeanne said...

So where are these schedule and scope and sequence pages?..

So glad your beautiful sensitive Maxie is willing to give poetry a second chance. Emily is a fine choice! The book looks lovely too. On the list for when we study her.

Richele said...

They're those little tabs at the top, Jeanne.

I got to host Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Y. Stemple, for a book signing of their "Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories." It was so interesting to talk with them about the world of children's publishing. I liked them both so much and have been waiting impatiently for their "Dance Around the World" to be published.

Amy in Peru said...

ps. I read Orphant Annie to my boys when they were bigger and they didn't seem to mind (it was post Princess and the Goblins)... yes... I can understand the trauma. hahah.

pps. That is REALLY cool that you've met Jane Yolen. I think it would be VERY interesting to meet her :) and several other authors as well.

amy in peru

Richele said...

It gave me the creeps as well and, as Jeanne gathered, it was Max that couldn't make it past the second stanza. Luca (my younger) would have gladly read through to the end.

juliecache said...

i'll have to check this book out. i heart jane yolen.

transparentnow? said...

I'm so excited. That is the poem that caused me to fall in love with Dickinson. Might I suggest "The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson" by Thomas H. Johnson.

And a brief excerpt:

The Life we have is very great
The Life that we shall see
Surpasses it, we know, because
It is Infinity.

But when all Space has been beheld
And all Dominion shown
The smallest Human Heart's extent
Reduces it to none. #1162

Erin Neiner said...

Oooh. Miss Richele does find the gems in our library! It is so gorgeous. I am afraid I am completely guilty for judging a book by its cover. :) Do I see a visit to Miss Dickinson's house on the horizon???

Escapist said...

Oh heard abt the book bfre,bt never went through pages...

Will do that now....