Golden Numbers: A Book of Verse for Youth is a free poetry book aimed at young readers. It was compiled in the early 1900s by Nora Archibald Smith and Kate Douglas Wiggin, the author of Mother Carey’s Chickens and one of our favorite Christmas tales, The Birds’ Christmas Carol.
The poems selected are intended to put a student on a path to loving poetry.
We who have selected the poems in this book have had to keep in mind the various kinds of young people who are to read it. The boys may wish that there were more story and battle poems, and verses ringing with spirited and war-like adventures; the girls may think that there are too many already; while both, perhaps, may miss certain old favorites like Horatius or The Ancient Mariner, omitted because of their great length. Some of you will yawn if the book flies open at Milton; some will be bored whenever they chance upon Pope; others will never read Wordsworth except on compulsion.
The poets featured will be familiar names to most, including:
- Cullen Bryant.
- Russell Lowell.
- And authors such as Kipling, Goldsmith, and Carroll.
The poems are grouped by theme; each division offers an introduction to the poems that follow. Themes include:
- Hours, days, and seasons.
- Life lessons.
- And much more!
Because it aims to be a bit of everything suitable for the student learning to love poetry, not everything will be suitable. But it is a start. In fact Wiggin encourages us:
By and by you will add poem after poem to your list of favorites, and so, gradually, you will make your own volume of Golden Numbers, which will be far better than any book we can fashion for you. Perhaps you will copy single verses and whole poems in it and, later, learn them by heart. Such treasures of memory “will henceforth no longer be forgettable, detachable parts of your mind’s furniture, but well-springs of instinct forever.”
So make it so. Have your student (and you) create a book of poetry. Begin by copying favorites from this sampling. Then over time add more favorites. And indeed, you will have your “own value of Golden Numbers, which will be far better than any book” fashioned for you.
- There are over 380 poems included. One option would be to cover one poem each day for three school terms (roughly 128), which will leave a bit of time for the unplanned.
- Another option is to simply read a poem each day for over a year.
- The poems can be read in the order listed. Exceptions might include aiming to read the “The Glad Evangel” section (21 poems) during the month of December. The “A Changed Calendar” section also includes poems pertaining to spring, March, August, or fall, for example. These can be checked off as appropriate.
- Another method of approaching the book is to work through the poems by poet. In this way, the student becomes more familiar with the work of each poet, quickly finding his or her favorite. The “Index by Authors” in the back will help you navigate the poems in this manner.
- Finally, one of the things we really enjoyed about The Oxford Book of Children’s Verse was its chronological approach. If you choose to go this route, the “Index by Authors” in the back will again be handy.
4 Ways to Incorporate Poetry ~ Resources
Places to go next.
Online Poetry Anthology