Tag: natalie babbitt

5 Poetry Books That Our Family Loves

I missed National Poetry Month by a solid month with this post, but you seem like a forgiving bunch, and one who doesn’t mind reading about poetry out of season, right? Of course, there is no “out of season” for poetry, really. It’s perfect for reading in the spring, when garden beds and sunsets seem to speak in verse, and for reading on sunny summer afternoons—preferably on a picnic blanket in a backyard, perhaps with chickens clucking nearby and bees weaving in and out of the flower stalks. Poetry is just right for fall, too, when the rain hits the windows with its own poetic rhythm, and for winter, when the warmth of fleece blankets and black tea are worth a stanza or two alone.

Over the years, our family has collected a number of poetry books, perfect for all seasons. We don’t read from them as often as any of us would like, but we have a few collections that get pulled off the shelf, passed around and read aloud more often than any of our other poetry books. Some are old—very old—and some are new. But all of them are lovely and worth sharing over lunchtime quesadillas or steaming cups of tea.

5 Poetry Books That Our Family Loves | Little Book, Big Story

A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES, by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child's Garden of Verses | Little Book, Big Story

Andrew Pudewa once described this as “A Girl’s Garden of Verses,” but of course, that doesn’t trouble our family one bit. These poems have been among our most-read, much-beloved, highly-dogeared favorites for years. (Read the full review.)

A CHILD’S CALENDAR, by John Updike

A Child's Calendar, by John Updike | Little Book, Big Story

John Updike takes us through the months of the year with twelve lovely poems. Trina Schart Hyman’s illustrations put those poems in the context of one family that you can’t help loving by the end of the book.

A Child's Calendar, by John Updike | Little Book, Big Story

ANYTHING BY A.A. MILNE

The Poetry of AA Milne | Little Book, Big Story

Just the rhythm of Milne’s poetry is addicting. He gives snippets of it in Winnie-the-Pooh, but his volumes of poetry are so much fun to read. We’re not always sure what happening, but we always love the language.

ALL THE SMALL POEMS AND FOURTEEN MORE, by Valerie Worth

All the Small Poems, by Valerie Worth | Little Book, Big Story

These poems are lovely—beautiful and accessible and about the most ordinary things. (Read the full review.)

THE GOLDEN TREASURY OF POETRYEd. Louis Untermeyer

The Golden Book of Poetry | Little Book, Big Story

I found this behemoth in an antique store and purchased it on a whim. When we did sit down with it, though, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it contained everything from silly rhymes to giant narrative poems of the old school. Our favorites have to do (rather predictably) with Robin Hood. We read them dramatically—with flair. Over and over again.

Which poetry books have won hearts in your house? I’d love to hear some of your favorites.

All The Small Poems and Fourteen More | Valerie Worth

There are beautiful things, and there are useful things. But there are also things both beautiful and useful—those are the very best.

In writing, it is the same: there are beautifully written novels, and terribly useful manuals on, say, home improvement. There are all manner of books in between. But rare is the book that stands firmly in both category. When one does appear, it’s a thing worth celebrating.

"Sparrow," from All the Small Poems, by Valerie Worth | Little Book, Big Story

All The Small Poems was an accidental library find, and one that we borrowed two or three times before finally conceding and buying our own copy. Valerie Worth’s poems, small as they are, use a lovely economy of language to describe the most ordinary, overlooked objects as something worth admiring: potatoes, a slug. Porches. Coat hangers. From “Soap Bubble”:

 The soap bubble’s

. . . Mapped with

Rainbows, streaming,

Curled: seeming

A world too splendid

To snap, dribble,

And disappear.

Illustrated with detailed black-and-white drawings that remind me of those found in encyclopedias, each poem is only a few stanzas long and manages to capture some simple item perfectly. These poems are great fun to read aloud at the table. Even my husband, who insists that he doesn’t get poetry, loves these.

"Fireworks," from All the Small Poems, by Valerie Worth | Little Book, Big Story

Valerie Worth’s poems elevate the everyday to the beautiful and in doing so, help us see them all with new eyes. And that is a thing both beautiful and useful.


All the Small Poems and Fourteen More
Valerie Worth, Natalie Babbitt (1996)