American children's poetry began with Native American cradle songs, moved on to a rhymed alphabet, blossomed in the 19th century with "A Visit from St. Nicholas," expanded widely in the 20th century, and continues with vigor into the new millennium. Some of the best of these poems, however, have been neglected or forgotten.
This collection, edited by acclaimed children's author and poet Donald Hall, returns the forgotten treasures of American children's poetry. Featuring some of the best of children's book illustration-including archival selections from rare and early editions and pictures from now defunct 19th- and early-20th-century children's magazines-this anthology revives not only the classic poems but also the atmosphere of the periods in which they were written and read.
Starting with anonymous Native American verses and a selection from the 1727 New England Primer, "Alphabet," this book spans two centuries of American children's poetry. Immediately recognizable names, including Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and T. S. Eliot are joined by talented contemporary poets like Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Janet S. Wong, and others. Perennial favorites-such as "The Three Little Kittens" and "Casey at the Bat"-are mixed in with new classics, such as Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out." Poems about holidays appear with verses for recitation, nursery rhymes, poems for laughter, bedtime verses, scary poems, and animal poems. In recognition of America's diverse nature, the selections in this anthology reflect a variety of backgrounds and experiences. From anonymous African-American poets we step forward through the ages to admire the talents of Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Francisco X. Alarcón. Children will love discovering these gems, and both parents and teachers will delight in reading to children from this book.
Donald Hall is the author of many children's favorites, including The Ox-Cart Man (a Caldecott Medal winner), I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat and Lucy's Summer, and the editor of The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America (OUP, 1985). He has also written a dozen books of poetry, most recently Without. He lives on a farm in New Hampshire.
"A must on a child's bookshelf... It's a book that won't gather much dust."--The Miami Herald
"This is not American poetry as dusty, dreary literature; it is a living portrait of the most vivid, imaginative poets of recent years.... Such a marvellous collection of styles of both poems and art is a treasure."--Big Apple Parent
"You'll enjoy sharing old favorites such as 'The Three Little Kittens' and 'Casey at the Bat,' as well as playful works by e. e. cummings, Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, and Carl Sandburg. But there are also wonderful poems from contemporary writers. Illustrations are by famed artists, ranging from Beatrix Potter to Pablo Picasso."--Sesame Street Parents
"An illustrated collection of children's poems that was made to be shared. The editor has carefully selected 81 lovely poems that are representative of American literature, history, and culture... This isn't the kind of book that will sit on your shelf with white pages and gleaming cover. It will be lovingly treasured by adults and--inevitably--properly abused by children."--The Bloomsbury Review
"An appealing array of black-and-white and full-color fine-art reproductions.... [The] Native American pieces that open this book and the diverse voices of the late 20th century add a welcome dimension. There's a strong strain of humor throughout, but small quiet poems, lullabies, and odes to special moments are abundant too.... An inviting treasury for family and classroom sharing and an elegant gift book as well."--School Library Journal