Review of Poems to Learn by Heart, by Caroline Kennedy

Poems to Learn by Heart

by Caroline Kennedy
paintings by Jon J Muth

Disney Hyperion Books, New York, 2013. 192 pages.
Starred Review

Caroline Kennedy has collected in this book a rich treasury of poems, all worth committing to memory, and also worth reciting aloud even if you haven’t memorized them.

There’s a nice variety here, including poems I’ve known since childhood and were recited by my fellow students, such as “Casey at the Bat,” as well as much newer poems, less well-known poems, and even some poems by students.

She divides them into sections with similar themes, using a line from one of the poems to title each section. We’ve got “Here I Am and other poems about the self,” “I Dreamed I Had to Pick a Mother Out and other poems about family,” “I’m Expecting You! and other poems about friendship and love,” “I Met a Little Elf-Man, Once and other poems about fairies, ogres, and witches,” “Where Can a Man Buy a Cap for His Knee? and other nonsensical poems,” “It Is the Duty of the Student and other poems about school,” “We Dance Round in a Ring and Suppose and other poems about sports and games,” “Four Score and Seven Years Ago and other poems about war,” “The World Is So Full of a Number of Things and other poems about nature,” and “Extra Credit” (extra difficult poems to memorize).

It took me a very long time to read this book, because I read it a little at a time, trying to read as many poems as possible aloud to myself. But each time I checked the book out, it was on hold when three weeks were up, and then it took weeks for my hold to come in again. This last time, I made extra effort to finish reading it before my time was up! I’m amazed that it’s been out for months, but all copies are still on hold. I didn’t realize there were so many lovers of poetry in our county, but that fact makes me happy.

One thing’s for sure, the next time a child or a parent comes to the library looking for a poem to recite, I will give them this book – if we are lucky enough to actually find it on the shelf! This is a treasure trove of delightfully recitable poems.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I maintain my website and blogs on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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