Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Homeschool Review: Poetry in 2012-2013

I know, it's already the new school year, but I have a few odds and ends from last year I'd still like to record on the blog.

I've already written about our memorization last year (First Son's third grade poetry memory work and First Daughter's kindergarten memory work), but in addition to our memory work, we read together from a book of poetry once a week, just to enjoy poetry. Here are the poetry books we used in 2012-2013.

Eric Carle's Animals Animals
is simply a delight. When the book I had planned for beginning our year was unavailable, I turned to this perennial favorite in our home for a few weeks.

The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry was my initial choice for our school year. When it was already checked out from the library, I looked around a little online and found a used copy at a good price. I could have waited for the library copy, but I do like to buy one nice book of poetry a year for our homeschool and this was a wonderful addition to our home library. The poetry selections delighted all my children (from two to nine) and the illustrations are equally delightful. Many different illustrators contributed to this book and First Son enjoyed guessing the illustrators based on the style. I think Stephen Kellogg is his favorite. There are selections of poems of animals, the world of nature, seasons, people and places, school time, and (of course) Mother Goose. (I also recommend Tomie dePaola's Mother Goose.)

During Advent, we read from Bright Star Shining: Poems for Christmas and The Oxford Treasury of Christmas Poems. These are nice little collections I found at our library. We enjoy some of the poems more than others, so I usually browse through them, reading here and there rather than all the way through.

Off to the Sweet Shores of Africa: And Other Talking Drum Rhymes by Uzo Unobagha, illustrated by Julia Cairns, is a book I picked up at a Scholastic book fair years ago. I'm a little ambivalent about Scholastic as a publisher, but I do love this little book of poetry and so do the children. The illustrations are delightful. There's a helpful glossary at the back with pronunciations for the less well-known words.

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, includes poems selected for each region of the United States (Northeast, District of Columbia, Southeast, Great Lakes, Plains, Mountain States, Southwest, and Pacific Coast). I selected it to complement First Son's study of Kansas and the state abbreviations and capitals. (He did this in third grade because I did it in third grade and for no better reason.) Each region includes brief facts about the states like the capital, motto, state bird, and more, but the real treasure, of course, is the poetry. Not every state has a poem in its name, but the selections include poetry for children that attempt to invoke the geography and aura of the area's states. A variety of forms and meters are included. Many of them are quite wonderful. Never underestimate the attraction of a poem about a state, home, river, or mountain a child knows and loves.

Julie Andrews' Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, with paintings by Marjorie Priceman. This book is divided into chapters for each month with a few additions like Birthdays and New Babies. The illustrations are wonderful. My children love looking through the book. But I didn't love all the poetry selections. There was one, Experiment, that encouraging we "take an example from Eve." I hadn't previewed the poems, so I read it aloud to the children and then told them I did not think that was a good idea. So, beautiful pictures, some wonderful poems, but I recommend reviewing them ahead of time.

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