Short Note on Recitation and Poetry Out Loud.

Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States wrote:

“If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet’s voice and for a voice.  Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument.”

So true. That is why I believe recitation is such an important part of learning to appreciate poetry. And so does the National Endowment for the Arts, as seen in their sponsorship of Poetry Out Loud…an awesome program where students choose poems and compete by reciting them. More schools should participate.

Including preschools…

3-Year old Isabella reciting The Elf and the Doormouse.




Poetry leads to literacy. Literacy leads to happiness. Poetry leads to happiness!! (That’s almost logical…)

Just a quick thought:

I guess some people might wonder why “children’s poetry” is a cause someone might want to take the time to promote. In my opinion, every time you read a poem to a child you are planting a seed that might grow into lots of other wonderful things. “Poetry is the liveliest use of language, and nobody knows more instinctively how to take delight in that playfulness than children.

We want our children to delight in language and literacy. We want them to celebrate ideas and thinking. In my opinion, we cannot hope for anything greater for the future of our country. Perhaps this is the former political scientist in me talking, but I believe a democracy cannot function successfully if its people are not thoughtful and informed.

But beyond being good for society, a love of literacy is personally enriching (beyond its contribution to the ability to be independent and provide for oneself and family). I’ve said before that I believe reading helps people better understand themselves and how they fit into the world.

Reading, writing and literacy mean far more than understanding words on paper. Literacy has a lot to do with enriching and discovering more about yourself, your personal dreams, ambitions and hopes — coming to understand that “sacred place inside.” Literacy also enables us to share this “sacred place” with others, either with an intimate friend or with the world, through “stories, songs, dances and art.” When you are reading or being read a favourite book, poem or story, the writer is sharing with you something of that “sacred place inside.”

So, if literacy makes for a better external world for our children and enriches their internal experience of it, and poetry opens the door to literacy, then why on Earth would we not try to give that key to every child ???

Such is the goal of this blog. 🙂

This is a great quote from an article I was just reading:

“Poetry delights and inspires.  It challenges and provokes thinking.  Indeed, poetry is an essential part of the language, literacy, and learning of children.   Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that poetry is often the invitation into literature and ideas that promotes more reading, writing, and thinking.  What could possibly be better?

3-Year Old Recites “Litany” by Billy Collins: “In Defense of Memorization”

I just read an excellent essay. (Okay, I have a 6-month old…I partially read it but I plan to read the whole thing. Someday.) Anyway, it is “In Defense of Memorization” by Michael Knox Beran.

Here is just a short passage from the essay that I think is just outstanding:

Aren’t exercises in memorizing and reciting poetry and passages of prose an archaic curiosity, without educative value?

That too-common view is sadly wrong. Kids need both the poetry and the memorization. As educators have known for centuries, these exercises deliver unique cognitive benefits, benefits that are of special importance for kids who come from homes where books are scarce and the level of literacy low. In addition, such exercises etch the ideals of their civilization on children’s minds and hearts.

I wholeheartedly agree with Beran but since I don’t have the time tonight to expound, I’ll instead share a majorly cute video that is way more moving and more thought-provoking than anything I could write anyway:


Enjoy! Oh…and don’t forget to e-mail me at to enter our contest to win a free copy of Jack Prelutsky’s “The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders.” This blog is so new, you have a very good chance of winning! See details here:

“When You Are Big” Contest

Poetry in America: Findings of the Poetry Foundation’s study on American Attitudes toward Poetry

Check out the details of Poetry in America, the Poetry Foundation‘s study on American attitudes toward poetry.

“Findings from the Poetry Foundation’s seminal research study—Poetry in America—demonstrate that a lifelong love for poetry is most likely to result if cultivated early in childhood and reinforced thereafter.” (Foundation release) But this is not really surprising. What I found to be interesting is that many Americans see poetry as a valuable and rewarding thing, but often do not take the time to read it.

This study is really worth taking a look at.

Children and Poetry: The Benefits of Loving Words

Cupcakes and bluegrass are an awesome combination — but not as awesome as children and poetry! As a writer and mother with experience teaching young people from nursery school to university age, I firmly believe that frequent doses of poetry are beneficial for every area of a child’s development.

Of course, one can easily guess that poetry is excellent for language and vocabulary development, but the benefits of poetry for children go well beyond. The musicality of poetry makes reading a very enjoyable experience for little ones. Over the past week, I have been reading my daughter a 60-something page Jack Prelutsky book and every night she sits attentively through the whole thing. And she is only 6 months old! She slaps the book excitedly and tries to turn the pages herself. By the end of it she is almost always cooing like crazy and I like to believe she just wants to participate in all the fun sound-making. What a great beginning to her relationship with books!

But why is a love of reading so important, anyway? Reading is good, reading is good, reading is good. It’s jammed down our throats from a young age but how many of us can really articulate what is so good about it? From time to time I will inevitably try to do that in this blog, but for now I’ll just say that books help us think about life, which, as we all know, can be so hard sometimes! They give us opportunities to deeply investigate the lives and minds of others so we might understand differences among people and, more importantly, identify the places where we overlap. This overlap is what it is to be human and it is the stuff that poetry is made of.

Beyond all this, poetry allows children to express themselves and to stretch their imaginations. The world is bigger and its possibilites more vast for children who develop a love of words, a respect for ideas and a fondness for books.

This blog is dedicated to children and the adults who want the best for them. It will be filled with poetry for children, information about poets and poetry for children, activities and contests to foster a love of words in children, and anything else that might be related.

I must admit, I’m super excited about this project. I hope you and your children enjoy reading and participating in this blog as much as I think I’m going to enjoy writing it. I hope you gobble up poems like cupcakes and dance to their verses like you’re at a big ol’ bluegrass festival!


PS: Why the name “Cupcakes and Bluegrass?” Because I’m writing a collection of children’s poetry by that name. I am also writing one called “The Hatbox: A Poetry of Collection.”

I think a poem is like a cupcake…so personal and enjoyable. And I tend to respond internally to poetry I like in very much the same way that I do to music I like. And I love bluegrass…

So that’s that! 🙂

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