Poetry/Mother Goose

Mother Goose first possible origin
-Dame Goose
-1700s in Boston
-Gifted storyteller
-Gravestone in Boston area cemetery
-Grave was x-rayed and discovered to be empty

Mother Goose second possible origin
-Her name shows up first in 1697 in a book by Perrault
-Perrault heard about her through his parents and their parents
-Story goes back to the 1500s in France – woman in castle comes out to tell kids stories. She is unique because she is skinny and shoulder blades stick out like wings. Her toes and fingers are webbed. Mamer Lawe is what kids call her which means Mother Goose in French.

Appeals of Mother Goose to Young Children
-Rhythm and rhyme
-Participatory (Short verses – easy to remember and Counting – not always, but often)
-Sound (alliteration, tongue twisters, etc.)
-Verses that tell stories are short and full of action
-Good is rewarded/bad is punished
-Likable characters with both positive and negative qualities (unique in history of children’s literature)
-Animal rhymes
-Misfortunes (kids like when things go wrong)
-Weather (familiarity for children)
-Humor (strange things happening)

Criteria for Judging a Good Version of Mother Goose
-Coverage (How many rhymes are covered? Should include the familiar, but also some to expand knowledge)
-Arrangement of the rhymes (Does it appear random or are they clearly arranged with a purpose?)
-Illustrations (Should be of the highest quality, May reflect the era that the book was compiled, Pictures should easily go with the rhyme)
-Format (Binding, color of page
1 or 2 rhymes per page, or overwhelming and Should have two indeces – first line index and title index)
-Multicultural (today’s should reflect children from varied cultures)

Verse is less what then poetry
less sophisticated

Definition of poetry
-The distillation of experience that captures the essence of an object, feeling, or thought
-To distill is to boil out all the extra content and leave only the concentrated remains
-Poetry is more concentrated – should make you think

Poetry’s demands reaction from
-Senses
-Intellect
-Emotions
-Imagination

Characteristics of Good Children’s Poetry
-Content (Speaks directly to the child – relatable, primary difference between poetry written for children and poetry written for adults)
-Figurative Language (Simile, metaphor, hyperbole, etc. but not confusing to the child)
-Sound (devices -Alliteration, rhyme, onomatopoeia)
-Should not preach, moralize, be excessively sentimental, or look back at childhood (Nostalgia doesn’t connect with children)
-Should have good imagery (Poet is an artist who uses words to paint pictures on the canvas in the reader’s mind

What do children want in poetry?
-Rhythm (want to hear rhythm because they are wired for it)
-Rhyme (Doesn’t just have to be rhyme; could be alliteration, onomatopoeia, consonance/assonance; just interesting sounds)

Terry Poetry Preference Study
-1970s
-Grades 4-6 in schools from different regions around the country
-Asked teachers and librarians to come up with a list of poems – ended up ~120
-Recorded these poems (radio announcer)
-Played about 10-12 a day for kids
-Reacted on a continuum to the poems

Terry’s Findings
-Children liked limericks (Short and funny)
-Children liked narrative poems (Poems that tell a story)
-Children liked Haiku least (Too obscure for young children, Japanese culture is often very precise and methodical)
-Children liked poems with sound in them (“The Pickety Fence”)
-Children liked poems about familiar experiences
-Children liked poems about animals
-They liked modern poems rather than traditional poetry (Both types represented on the list)
-A separate study asked English teachers what the most read poem was in their classes (“Paul Revere’s Ride” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Limericks children like by
Edward Lear

Number 1 narrative poem in Terrys finding
“Mummy Slept Late and Daddy Fixed Breakfast”

Poems about animals children liked
-Eletelephony
-Lone Dog

Dos for Sharing Poetry
-Provide time for poetry
-Choose poems with action and humor
-Read poetry aloud often
-Provide a variety of poems in books, CDs, etc.
-Encourage the writing of poetry
-Try choral reading
-Reread poems children ask to hear again
-Make show and tell about poetry

Donts for Sharing Poetry
-Read poetry without first practicing reading it aloud
-Introduce poetry by having students read it silently
-Require students to memorize poetry
-Select poems with obscure meanings
-Dissect poetry (underlining things)
-Confuse poems about children with those for children

Good Children’s Poets and Poetry
Shel Silverstein – Where the Sidewalk Ends
Jack Prelutsky – The New Kid on the Block
Judith Viorst – If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Stories
Sing a Song of Popcorn (originally published as Poems Children Will Sit Still For)
Lee Bennett Hopkins – Hand in Hand
I Never Saw Another Butterfly

I.A. Richards Study
-Distributed poems to undergraduate English majors at prestigious British universities (deleted poets’ names)
-Asked two questions (Is the poem good or bad and What is it about)
-Without poets’ name, they couldn’t answer the questions!
-Implication – we are teaching poets, not poetry.

example showing demands of poetry
Eve Merriams How to Eat a Poem

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