Poems Purely for Pleasure

The girls and I love reading poetry together. We’re not poetry scholars: we don’t study each poem in depth. We just enjoy reading poems out loud, delighting in the sounds of the words and the rhythms and rhymes, and the images that are conjured up in our imaginations. Sometimes we photocopy a favourite poem to paste into our journals. Sometimes (but not always) the girls feel compelled to add their own illustrations. Our study of poetry is pure enjoyment, and nothing else.
I found a free poetry book online called Poems Every Child Should Know by Mary E. Burt. It’s a big volume, lots to enjoy. Where to start? I dipped in at random, trying a poem out, asking the girls for their opinions, until we found some we all liked. 
One day by chance, we came across a nautical poem: The Wreck of the Hesperus by Longfellow (one of our favourite poets) which is based on an historical event.
Then we found a poem called The Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey, that captured our imagination.
Soon we were looking for more nautical poems to add to our collection. Here’s a list of the ones we found in this volume (there are probably more!)
A while later, we stumbled across a romantic ballad  and another… We started a new collection of poems which included these ones:
Poems Every Child Should Know is available as a free ebook in various formats from Project Gutenberg, or Books Should be Free
A paperback book can be purchased from Yesterday’s Classics .
It can be read online at many sites including The Baldwin Project, which has an attractive easy-to-read layout of the book. 
You can also download an audio book version or listen to Poems Every Child Should Know online at Librivox
I wonder…
 What kind of poetry collection could you put together using this book?
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  1. Reply

    Sue, neat recommendation! O Captain, My Captain was part of John Paul's curriculum two years ago during his poetry study. We have been relying on "The Harp and the Laurel" for our poetry curriculum but I'm going to have to check this out. Thanks!

    1. Reply


      We've also got a copy of "The Harp and Laurel Wreath". I like the explanations for those harder poems that I can't make head nor tail of! I hope you enjoy the poems in this collection too. I think I might download an audio book version. That might be a great way to enjoy poetry.

      Thank you for your comment!

    2. Reply

      Wow, Sue, I don't think my copy includes the explanations. I'm going to have to look. I could sure use that, too, as I often found myself in the past couple of years on the computere trying to find out the history of poems such as "The Destruction of Sennacherib" and others. With Claire last year in Kindergarten, we found ourselves doing all Robert Louis Stevenson poems, which she very much enjoyed.

    3. Reply


      I'm slow at replying to your comment. Sorry! I was looking for my copy of "The Harp and Laurel Wreath" but it seems to have disappeared. I can't check but this is what I remember: some of the poems have study guide questions (not all of them), and the answers are also provided in the back of the book. By reading both questions and answers, I was able to get a good idea about the meanings of the poems. I am sorry if your book has these Q&A but you were hoping for more, because of my comment. Sometimes when I get stuck on a poem, I just Google the poem's name and and the word 'analysis'. This works quite often.

      God bless!

  2. Reply

    Do you feel more poetic when spring comes? I was just about to post a spring poem!

    Have you heard of the Ada Skinner poetry books, Sue? We've used the first two volumes and, apparently, there's a third, as well. They're called 'A Child's Own Book of Verse.'

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Reply


      I will watch out for your spring poem!

      I think we have the Ada Skinner poetry books. I downloaded them to the computer, and there might also be copies on the ereaders. Thank you for the reminder. I shall hunt them out! Yes, you are right: there is a 3rd volume of these books. I just Googled it. I found it on the Baldwin Project website but I'm sure it will be available from many sites.

  3. Reply

    Hi Sue! I love reading your blog! I sometimes tire of all the craziness here and sometimes tell my hubby I want to move to Australia (and meet all the wonderful people there-especially you… :)) I hope everything is going well. I have tried to email you a couple times (we Finally have internet at home!). Our Maximilian is now three weeks old.

    Sending Texas love (where it is so HOT and Humid :p),

    Irena Moon-Quitzau

    1. Reply


      I am so pleased to hear from you! I was thinking yesterday that I haven't yet sent you the promised email with all our family's news. I'm so sorry!

      I'd love you to move here and meet you, but maybe you'd think it's just as crazy here as where you are. My girls would love to travel to Texas. They wrote to Beate's daughters last week, hoping to be pen-friends. Also, we are reading "The Wind Blows Free" which is set on the Texas Panhandle. Probably you don't live there, but you're a lot closer to that area than we are!

      Not long and your cooler weather will arrive… and ours will disappear. I think I am a cool weather person rather than a hot summer person.

      I hope you're enjoying your precious baby and your Internet. Thank you for reading my blog.

      God bless you and your family! xx

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