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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

By Heart

As the Person of Poetry for several classes, I seek poems each week that I believe will make the listeners think, laugh, ponder, and wonder. One of my favorites is Caroline Kennedy's A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poems for Children. Last month, her second book of collected poems was released: Poems to Learn By Heart. 

In the introduction, she says so many important things about why poetry and memorizing poems are important: 

"In today's world, where it is so easy to look things up, we discount the value of memorization."
"Poets distill life's lessons into the fewest possible words. But those tiny packages of thought countain worlds of images and experiences and feeling."
"If we learn a poem by heart, it is ours forever - and better still, we can share it with others, yet not have to give it away."
The rest of the book is divided by themes. Each section begins with insights into the theme and reasons why some of the poems were selected. I have already read several aloud to my classes!
  • Here I Am (self poems)
  • I Dreamed I Had to Pick A Mother Out (family poems)
  • I'm Expecting You! (friendship and love poems)
  • I Met a Little Elf-Man, Once (fantastical creatures in poems)
  • Where Can a Man Buy a Cap for His Knee? (poems of nonsense)
  • It Is the Duty of the Student (school poems)
  • We Dance Round in a Ring and Suppose (sport and game poems)
  • Four Score and Seven Years Ago (war poems)
  • The World is So Full of a Number of Things (nature poems)
  • Extra Credit (quite long poems)
Jon J. Muth's illustrations are extraordinary and both complement and add surprise to the poems! A young clarinetist on a high wire accompanies "I Am Cherry Alive". A girl with a butterfly net chases her annoying brother in "Brother". A history-cloaked character slogs through the snow next to "The Lesson" by Billy Collins. 

There are so many wonderful things about this book. Now I need to try memorizing some of the poems I love.


  1. and i need to get my hands on this book.

  2. such a wonderful photograph to go along with this post, too.

    1. Slippers from Kim for our birthdays. Mine are the blue/green ones.

  3. This one is definitely on my list. Thanks for reminding me!