English - Chapters of verse

21st December 2012 at 00:00
Poetry for children selected by the Poet Laureate

"Out in the desert lies the sphinxIt never eats and it never drinxIts body quite solid without any chinx."

Charles Causley's quirky Out in the Desert is one of the poems selected by Carol Ann Duffy for her compendium 101 Poems for Children: a laureate's choice.

The Poet Laureate includes a range of poems, old and new, from The Song of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats - the first poem Duffy learned by heart as a child - to her own A Crow and a Scarecrow.

Many of the poems are suited to primary topics, such as animals and the seasons. And from Edwin Morgan's Hyena to Causley's Good Morning, Mr Croco-Doco-Dile, there are many characters pupils will love to discuss.

Duffy's collection is cleverly designed to accompany children throughout their learning lives, supporting, entertaining and educating them. The poems take young readers on a journey that starts with Edward Thomas' Words, a playful poem that is a perfect introduction to poetic devices. The literary trip ends with Ian McMillan's Adult Fiction, a poem about the lure of the library, suitable for older children.

The book ranges from silly rhymes such as "Laughter is an eggthat does a one-leg hopLaughter is an eggthat can out-spin a top" (John Agard's Laughter is an Egg), through nonsense poetry such as Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, to verse in iambic pentameter such as an extract from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Despite the breadth of subjects and styles, the poems all tap into children's imaginations by bringing the make-believe to life or making the ordinary and mundane - like the train journey in W.H. Auden's Night Mail - seem fantastical.

Duffy hopes that the anthology will cultivate children's passion for poetry. In the introduction she writes: "I hope that these poems will be shared, at least initially, between parent and child; that the child might want to learn one or two by heart; that the child who owns this book will grow with the poetry here and find poems that will stay with her or him forever."

For those of us who are already grown up, the collection offers some delightful nostalgic moments. And for the children in your class, it should be a text to cherish.

101 Poems for Children: a laureate's choice is published by Macmillan Children's Books, #163;9.99

What else?

Get pupils excited about poems with this collection of poetry resources. bit.lytesPoetry.

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