It’s not uncommon to see the Library’s youngest patrons head straight for the picture books. Bold colours and gorgeous graphics catch their eyes, drawing them into the stories they (hopefully) come to love. There is a treasure trove of tales that your children may be overlooking, and it’s found on the non-fiction shelves.
Tucked on the shelves of 811s is the Library’s collection of poetry. While poetry may not be what you had in mind, I am confident that the Library carries something to capture the attention of almost any little book lover, and even those children who aren’t bookworms. Poems can be silly or sad, uplifting or whimsical. Readers who struggle to focus for long periods will appreciate that they can pick up a book, read a verse or two, and put the book back down for later. Reading poetry with your child can help build their vocabulary, fluency, and develop rhythm. You’ve likely already exposed your child to poetry through the works of Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein.
The following suggestions are some of my favourites from the Library’s treasure trove of poetry.
Melvis and Elvis is written by Canadian Dennis Lee, and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard. If your young child loves Grumpy Bird as much as I do, Tankard’s illustrations are sure to be recognized. From a short, 4 line poem, to verses that stretch across two pages, this collection is perfect for those that like the ridiculous. Make sure to check out p. 29’s The Notapotamus!
Mordicai Gerstein’s Dear Hot Dog is a beautifully illustrated collection of poems all about a child’s everyday. No poem is longer than 2 pages, and the verses have simple titles like Socks, Spaghetti, and Pillow. While there is still some silliness as we follow the three children who make up the characters, this compilation of free verse poems is like lovely little updates about the events of the day. This is a perfect choice for those who can only make it through a quick story before bouncing off to another activity.
Humour is often the key to catching a child’s attention, and The Cat on the Mat is Flat will appeal to those children who are drawn to narratives that make them laugh. Author of many books including the ever popular The Day My Butt Went Psycho, Andy Griffiths’works are silly, fast-paced tales suitable for struggling readers. The Cat on the Mat is Flat is no exception. It reads like a rhythmic collection of very short stories interspersed with sketches that slightly older readers will appreciate.
I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder is a sweet, gentle book ideal for reading together, especially for those days when your child needs a little extra love.
Lickety-Split by Robert Heidbreder is an excellent option to read with the very young. With only two words per page, it is full of alliteration as well as bold illustrations by Dusan Petricic.
Toss aside your memories of school assignments analyzing deep, complicated verses, and embrace the gems in your Library’s poetry section. We would love to hear about your favourites!
Jana O’Flaherty – www.tbpl.ca. If you have a comment about today’s column, we would love to hear from you. Please comment below!