Gather Around Inspirations: Poetry

In case you missed what Gather Around Inspirations is all about, let me fill you in. It is about introducing quality literature (but also art and music) into your home. Looking for a good book to read as a family? I’ve got you covered! Through Gather Around Inspirations, I am sharing some of my favorite (past and present) read-aloud books.

I believe we cannot effectively pass on a love of reading to our children by nagging them to read more. Instead, we need to be willing to come alongside them and share the joy of reading with them, together. Which leads me to today’s tricky genre . . .

Poetry. Some people love it, some people detest it. I, personally, love it. One of the biggest factors in determining whether someone appreciates and enjoys poetry is their exposure to it. If you have little exposure to it–of course it is going to be awkward and unenjoyable. Also, if your only exposure revolves around school and “Analyze this poem!”–it will feel like work, or more aptly put, homework.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually love analyzing poetry. But if that is the only reason someone reads it, they are missing the joy of it. If we can start introducing poetry to our children and teenagers as something that can simply be read, or listened to, and enjoyed–we will be enabling them to have a positive, healthy relationship with poetry.

Plus, poetry helps us to be more observant. To slow down, notice, and appreciate our world. And, without us demanding it, poetry can motivate us to reflect, analyze, and question. In other words, it helps with our ability to think critically. But, maybe more importantly, it can increase our awareness and ability to find beauty in our world.

For these reasons, and many more, I adore these two volumes of poetry:

Poetry 180

1.Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry compiled by Billy Collins was created to help bring teenagers back to enjoying poetry. Collins wanted to offer “engaging, thoughtful poems that are an immediate pleasure” that can help teachers (or parents) introduce young readers to poetry. Sidenote: This is also why I love Billy Collin’s poetry. It can be pondered, but it also provides an immediate pleasure upon simply reading it. In his introduction to this anthology, he writes, ” . . . students can hear poetry on a daily basis without feeling any pressure to respond. I wanted teachers to refrain from commenting on the poems or asking students ‘literary’ questions about them. No discussion, no explication, no quiz, no midterm, no seven-page paper–just listen to a poem every morning and off you go to your first class.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds fantastic! This collection of poetry includes some of my personal favorites, such as Ted Kooser and Stephen Dunn.


A Child's Book of Poems

2. A Child’s Book of Poems illustrated by Gyo Fujokawa is a book I paid $20 dollars for in a downtown bookstore in Lincoln, NE as a high school student. I immediately fell in love with the artwork and poetry selection. I knew I wanted to give this book my future children someday as a way to pass on a love of poetry. Rebekah loves it. We will try and sit down and read a couple poems from it every day. Granted, I think she will love it a bit more when she is older. We are having some trouble with paperbacks right now. She doesn’t tear them, but she gets frustrated. Part of our reading routine is letting her turn the pages–which she loves and it involves her–but that works much better with board books than it does with paper pages! However, I can always tell when she likes the artwork in a book because she will start pointing to different parts of the picture.

(I would also like to note that the current Amazon price is $8.57. I paid $20 . . . But that was several years ago.)

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artwork in poetry book

black and white poetry page

Do you have a positive relationship with poetry?