So often when I think of my children I think of vibrancy, energy, motion. Sometimes it's dancing, sometimes it's that I'm-too-tired-to-admit-I-need-a-nap frantic zooming from one thing they shouldn't do (or touch, or put in their mouth) to another. Poetry and children just seem to go together. Children respond with pleasure to the unexpected rhyme, the tap-tap-tapping of an alliterative phrase, or the reassuring rhythm of a familiar meter. In so many ways, kids are poetry - poetry in motion. Most of the the poetry I read to my kids reflects that motion, that high energy. Shel Silverstein. Dr. Seuss. Sandra Boynton.
Then one day in the bookstore, after grabbing the newest Skippyjon Jones and dragging my son away from the trains, this caught my eye:
and I remembered. I remembered the first time I read Robert Frost. The first time I ever read a poem that made me stop; that made me feel the weight of the pauses, the meaning in the silence between words. So it came home with us as well.
That night, we read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, but we read it slowly. The illustrations by Susan Jeffers really couldn't be more perfect. We savored each of Frost's lines, then asked each other questions about the pictures - looking for the spots of color in the winter blacks, whites, and greys. 'Do you see any more animals?' or 'That owl is beautiful!' I have read this poem, with these illustrations, to my son time and time again, and to his little sister as well. Yet, however many times we read it, it never ceases to amaze me how still they are, and how wonderful it is to have a children's poetry book to reflect that stillness.
Children are poetry in motion. But they are poetry in stillness, too.