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I reckon that national poetry month just got over. I had been meaning to add my two cents….but better late than never. So here it goes.

Let us play word association. What comes to your mind when you say poetry? This is what comes to my mind:

Glum. Melancholy. Daffodils. Sad. Rote. Wordsworth. Memorize. Exams. Marks. Simile. Metaphor. Hate. Struggle. Depth. Inadequacy. Puzzled. With-reference-to-context. Robert Frost. Complex. Forgetting-and-leaving-a-space-hoping-that-the-word-would-come-to-mind-before-the-exam-bell-rings. Mnemonic.

I know I am not doing justice to the genre of poetry. Especially when early childhood education has nothing but good things to say about poetry and its benefits in language development in young children. I feel that my poetry learning was associated with probing to check for understanding rather than focusing on exposing the beauty of the language and it soured my experience.

I am reading some poetry with my children and at school. From my observations, I feel that poems with a strong cadence are a huge hit with all children. So far I am yet to come across anything that beats Mother Goose in its strong rhythm and cadence. Some of the content in Mother Goose, I feel, is culturally irrelevant, sexist and makes my eyes roll, but I must also say that it is the adult perspective. Children are oblivious to it and are mesmerized. Also from my observations, at around four years children start enjoying nonsense verses. The next in the natural progression is enjoying poems with clever word play. At home we are heavily in to nonsense verses and considering that it the highest level I will ever reach in poetry, we shall remain at that stage for a long time :)

I am sharing some poems that we like at home

My Name Is… By Pauline Clarke
Book: The 20-th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
Selected by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Meilo So
Additional Information: I sing it to the tune of “My name is Madhavi, I am from Allepey” (Karadi Tales)

My name is Sluggery-wuggery
My name is Worms-for-tea
My name is Swallow-the-table-leg
My name is Drink-the-Sea.

My name is I-eat-saucepans
My name is I-like-snails
My name is Grand-piano-George
My name is I-ride-whales.

My name is Jump-the-chimney
My name is Bite-my-knee
My name is Jiggery-pokery
And Riddle-me-ree, and ME.

Eletelephony by Laura E.Richards
Book: The 20-th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury
Selected by Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Meilo So
Additional Information: It so happened that Chula and Mieja’s teacher also read this poem at school. Need I say how thrilled they were?!

Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use a telephant-
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone-
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)

Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee-
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

From school: The primary teachers do a cool circle time game in which they sing, “Willaby Wallaby BAY, an elephant sat on JAY. Willaby wallaby BACK, an elephant sat on JACK”. The idea is to rhyme a nonsense word with a child’s name. Once the kids are familiar with this routine, they sing, “Willaby wallaby MALICE, an elephant sat on______”, they pause and the children chorus “ALICE” – they pick a child’s name that rhymes with ‘malice”. If the children are rained in, they are sure to play this game, it keeps them engaged for a long time.

Book: Gasa Gasa Para Para Author: Jeeva Ragunath. Illustrator: Ashok Rajagopalan
Book: A-vil yirundhu Ak varai Author: Jeeva Ragunath. Illustrator: Nancy Raj

Publisher: Tulika

Alliterations, onomatopoeia, funny alphabet pictures, nonsense verses. What is not to like in these books?!
A-vil yirudnhu is about the vowels.
Gasa Gasa Para Para focuses on the consonants and the letters emerging when combined with the vowels. My children like to look at the books and identify the tamil alphabets.

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