As I wrote in a recent article, I came to love poetry because I made myself read poems to my children and learned to love them by accident. One of the hardest parts was knowing where to start. Many anthologies (like the ones I had in school) seem overwhelming, and I felt intimidated. Here are some of the ways we started loving poetry as a family. Remember that I started with kids’ poetry, so some of these may not be the right fit for your family, but I hope some of them will! And I trust that as you find your favorites, they will introduce you to their friends.
Christmas Poems Set to Music
There are many more! But these two are my favorite, especially this version of I Heard the Bells.
- 1. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- 2. In the Bleak Midwinter poem by Christina Rosetti
Poetry for Children
- 3. Mother Goose Treasury – Nursery rhymes are wonderful! They are fun and silly and ready to be sung. And these nursery rhymes are actually good for our kids too! They learn rhyming and cadence and all kinds of wonderful things to prepare them for reading.
- 4. New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky- Prelutsky is so funny. We laugh every time we open this book! I grew up with Shel Silverstein, and these poems are similar.
- 5. Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization – This collection of poems (and eventually speeches) are designed to be memorized. They start short and silly and grow in length and complexity as you work through the book. We would not have found Hillaire Belloc or Ogden Nash without this one.
Poetry for Young People
- 6. Poetry for Young People is a series of books that collect several poems by one poet in each volume. While the title says for young people, these are illustrated collections from some of the best-known poets and appropriate for any age. We have Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and several others. Reading several poems by the same poet has been a great way to become familiar with their writing.
- 7. 40 Favorite Hymns – Many of our favorite hymns are also lovely poetry and often more approachable. Try reading all of the stanzas and not be moved!
- 8. The Soul in Paraphrase – Leland Ryken collects poems through the history of the church that have helped Christians think about and love the Lord more deeply.
- 9. Christian Poetry in America Since 1940 – I’ve seen this one recommended a couple of times and it’s on my Christmas list.