Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Make Sure Children Read Poetry

Who is this?

This little boy grew up to be a widely read author of adventure tales. He was born in 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland, shunned the family business and took up the life of a traveler. He began writing in his twenties and wrote novels that have survived to this day. 

He also wrote poetry, much of it for children. Which brings me to the topic of today's post. Since this is the fiinal day of National Poetry Month, I wanted to honor a poet and to encourage parents and grandparents of today to help children develop a taste and a love for poetry. We are quite good at buying picture books for small children, but do we also make sure they own books of poetry for children? We should. 

Exposure to poetry of many kinds needs to begin at an early age. The author above wrote one of the best known and loved book of poetry for children. A Child's Garden of Verses has survived for more than a hundred years. Amazon lists myriad versions of the original book with many different illustrators putting their artistic abilities to work.

One of my favorite poems, written for children, comes from this book. The author was often sick as a child and into adulthood. This poem captures the time a little one must spend in bed and what he does to amuse himself. It's copied for you below. You might have to explain the meaning of a counterpane to today's kids, but they'll relate to the poem itself.

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,   
I had two pillows at my head,   
And all my toys beside me lay   
To keep me happy all the day.   
And sometimes for an hour or so     
I watched my leaden soldiers go,   
With different uniforms and drills,   
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;   
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets   
All up and down among the sheets;  
Or brought my trees and houses out,   
And planted cities all about.   
I was the giant great and still   
That sits upon the pillow-hill,   
And sees before him, dale and plain, 
The pleasant land of counterpane.

The poem was written by Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote many, many poems as well as
books. Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are only a few. Read more 
of the poems in A Child's Garden of Verses here. Better yet, purchase one of the newer 
versions of the book and give it to a child you love. 

Robert Louis Stevenson 
Author and Poet


  1. Some of my three daughters best memories are of me reading poetry to them. A favorite was Eugene Field, who wrote "Little Boy Blue," "The Duel," and "Jest 'Fore Christmas." But I think the one they delighted in the most was "The Spider and the Fly," by Mary Howitt. To this day, they still quote from these poems and they're all grown with children of their own. I love your story of Robert Louis Stevenson and thanks for sharing this, because it brought back those wonderful memories of me and my girls.

    1. I'm pleased you enjoyed this post about Robert Louis Stevenson. He wrote so many wonderful poems and stories. And thank you for instilling a love of poetry in your three daughters. Hope they are doing the same with any children they have.