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"He learned sword-fighting and riding, swimming and diving, how to shoot with the bow and play on the recorder and theorbo, how to hunt the stag and cut him up when he was dead, besides Cosmography, Rhetoric, Heraldry, Versification, and of course History, with a little Law, Physic, Alchemy, and Astronomy."  

-- C. S. Lewis, from Prince Caspian


How to Hold a Poetry Party

I love poetry readings. We do it often with our small group of friends, and the kids have a blast preparing for it. Here are our "rules" for running it:

Keep it balanced. Break up the long ballads with shorter poems for the little kids.

Keep it light. Too many verses of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" are deadly!

Vary the poem types. Use some ballads, some free verse, some haiku, even some limerick; and don't forget poems for two voices! Those are a real challenge for older kids.

Help the kids to read with feeling. I wish there were a recording of Patrick Stewart reading A.A. Milne's "King John". I heard it a few years ago, live, and it was inimitable. But you could try <G>.

Let the kids chose their own poetry. Some will chose works that are too hard and challenge themselves, but oh! so greater is the feeling of accomplishment. Some kids may wish to write and read original poetry!

Try finding a theme for the poetry night...autumn, animals, night time, dreams, faith, nature, myth, etc.

Consider giving each participant a small paperback book of poetry.  Milne, Jean Steig, Valerie Worth, Robert Frost, and others are available in affordable paperback versions. I just found a few copies of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" for $.39!

Dress the part! Kids love to dress up. Perhaps they would like to wear costumes from the poem, or costumes from the period the poem was written.

Serve food. Few things round out any homeschool event like a dessert table.  Don't forget to keep with the theme...serve "Simple Simon's Pie" or "Knave of Heart's Tarts"

Here's a great article on poetry from the Parents' Review.

Recommended books for the study of poetry:

Poetic form:

Rhyme's Reason by John Hollander is quite possibly the best introduction to poetic form out there, for both the serious student and the dabbler.


Poetry set to music:

 Musical version of A Child's Garden of Verses

  The Days Gone By 

  Sandburg Out Loud


Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris

 The Harp and Laurel Wreath by Laura Berquist

 The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes by Iona Opie

Also, The Oxford Book of Children's Verse (find the obscure right here)



 Poets (enough anthology):

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson