I don’t know about you but I tend to bristle over the word should. That aside, this really is a book of poetry most children will enjoy! Poems Every Child Should Know edited by Mary Burt attempts to cultivate those poems that children will be excited to encounter of their own free will:
Is this another collection of stupid poems that children cannot use? Will they look hopelessly through this volume for poems that suit them? Will they say despairingly, “This is too long,” and “That is too hard,” and “I don’t like that because it is not interesting”?
The editor addresses these commonly encountered objections as one who has frequently faced them. Straight on:
The poems in this collection are those that children love. With the exception of seven, they are short enough for children to commit to memory without wearying themselves or losing interest in the poem.
So we encounter the common, the fun, the storytelling, and the approachable poems. A few examples of the beginning:
- “The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Longfellow.
- “Let Dogs Delight to Bark and Bite” by Isaac Watts.
- “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
- “The Days of the Month.”
- “Playing Robinson Crusoe” by Rudyard Kipling.
- “My Shadow” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
- “The Owl” by Alfred Tennyson.
Poems Every Child Should Know is divided into six sections. The sections progress in difficulty. By the end of the book we have made it through:
Each poem is introduced with the editor’s personal reflections or a blurb about the poet or the poem.
Very approachable. You’ll find this a book that will work for six years of study! And it is free!
- Work through the book in six years by studying one poem each week.
- Memorize the poems. Obviously, this may require a slower pace, particularly at the higher levels.
- Keep a poetry notebook. Copy each poem (or favorite passages). Illustrate a few verses.
Poems Every Child Should Know by Burt
Quality paperback version for those interested. Be aware this version does not include the editor’s introductions.
4 Ways to Incorporate Poetry
Four different ways of approaching poetry along with resources to get it done.
Online Poetry Anthology
Our own and growing collection!