Guest post: Stephanie of Even*Cleveland

by Ashley on August 2, 2011

I’ve asked a few friends and fellow-bloggers to guest post while I am getting acquainted with Hudson–though I know I’ll enjoy sharing updates and photos from time to time. Stephanie writes a beautiful site called Even*Cleveland with honesty and from a place of curiosity, and I love that it indulges in both the high and the low pleasures (challenging such labels, of course).  Welcome Stephanie…

One of the great sneaky pleasures of being around little children getting to experience all sorts of firsts, to see and be reminded of wonders hidden in plain sight. One of those everyday wonders is poetry. For many of us, childhood is woven through with nursery rhymes and funny poems, but eventually life tilts to prose. Poetry retreats to the highest, dustiest shelf, (maybe) respected and (generally) unread.

This is a tragedy!

We are born to poetry and poems are born to be read aloud, which makes babies and poetry a perfect match. Tiny babies are an especially ideal audience for reading or reciting poems to – they don’t need pages to turn or pictures, just your voice and face.

There are many, many good places to look for poems, and many excellent books of poems specifically for children, but my favorite read aloud anthology is The Rattle Bag, edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. Hughes and Heaney, good friends, were both incredibly well-read and extraordinary poets. They sat down together in the early ’80s and compiled over 400 of their favorite poems, then put them in alphabetical order. It’s an oddly genius arrangement that lets each poem sing out, unexpectedly and wonderfully, and makes it easy to stumble across treasures. It’s the perfect volume to pick up and flip through until you find something that catches your eye, and there’s enough there to get you through a lifetime – if I could commit the whole to memory and ended up stranded in darkest Peru, I would feel pretty lucky. And while few of these poems were written for children, almost all of them can be read to them. I’ve read selections from it to squirmy babes, antic toddlers, and fidgety kindergarteners, and the response is always ‘MORE!’

And you never know. Keep it up, and eventually you might have someone who’ll recite poems for you.


Happy reading!

PS: For more ideas on things to read to very small people, my friend Amanda’s list can’t be beat.

Photo source: Etsy:


Alli August 2, 2011 at 10:11 am

LOVE this post, Stephanie! Thanks for sharing, especially the little munchkin at the end reciting Tennyson. My heart melts!

Amanda August 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

Beautifully done, as always, Stephanie. I have The Rattle Bag on the way.
(and many thanks for the kind words.)

Marlee August 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm

One of my mother’s many (wonderful) eccentricities about raising children is that she hates See Spot Run books and Dr. Suess (yes, we had Green Eggs and Ham, but that was it). As a result, she would read chapters from books, and poetry that her Mom used to read to her. Favorites were the Daffodils by Wordsworth, The Owl and the Pussycat, Annabelle Lee by Poe (a little morbid, but still beautiful), the Walrus and the Carpenter . . . I could recite them all as a child but now only really remember Daffodils with any authority.

Looking back on it I really appreciate that my mom read poetry to us and books that maybe others would assume we wouldn’t understand at such a young age. It encouraged us to be huge readers, and to not pay attention to reading levels. I feel like Literature (with a capital L) didn’t seem frightening as we got older.

Coincidentally, my parents did the same thing with music (listening to what they wanted to hear with some Disney tapes thrown in). This of course created the rule:

profanity doesn’t count if it’s in a lyric (minus the f-word)

Abbey August 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Love stephanie and love this!

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