In 1999 the UN announced that March 21 would now be known as World Poetry Day. This was in an attempt to give a fresh perspective of international poetry movements with the premise “that poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.”
One of the main goals of the day is to “support linguistic diversity through poetic expression,” encouraging youth and adults to be heard within their communities. This can be done through the traditional poetry recitals or through more contemporary arts such as online media, dance and painting. As a tutor in Toronto, I feel that we need to show the young how fun and meaningful the art of poetry can be, so that it isn’t considered an outdated art form, but a comfortable medium where individuals can show their identities and speak about topics they are passionate about.
A great example of this is shown through Fujiwara Dance Inventions, a group of Toronto based dancers. They have taken a traditional poem by Christian Bok and have created a dance production. In Bok’s Eunoia, each chapter is constrained to the use of a single vowel, yet he still creates the illusion of various fascinating worlds. In the dance adaptation the dances also follow these formal rules which allows them to transform the choreography. “The result is a witty and absorbing monument to human expression.”
Although it is important to show our children the modern creativity of poetry, they have to know the influences and the original work in order to fully understand the new interpretations. Here’s a list of my favourite influential poets of the Twentieth Century that everyone, not just youth, should own a copy of their works.
- Edgar Allan Poe
- William Shakespeare
- Oscar Wilde
- Sylvia Plath
- Seamus Heaney
- Dylan Thomas
As it is World Poetry Day why not head to a bookstore, pick up a copy, and immerse your family in the beautiful world of poetry.
On a side note, if you want your child to become a whizz at grammar, spelling and linguistics, we offer various after school tutoring lessons in Toronto that will help your kids read complicated works like Shakespeare much easier.
I hope you and your child had a great day reading on Sunday’s Family Literacy Day! Did your child by chance run out of books? Or maybe you’re interested in updating your child’s reading library. Whatever the case, I got you covered with what I believe to be some “must own” books that every child should read.
For Children in Early Elementary School (Junior Kindergarden to Grade 2)
- A Light in the Attic by ShelSilverstein: This classic collection of poems is interesting, easy to read and a really a great starting book for any child. Plus, the rhyming scheme used in the poems helps children recognize the connection between how a word is spelled and that word’s pronunciation. With so many benefits you see why Shel Silverstein’s book was the inspiration for our tutoring center!
- Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: Another must own classic. Where the Wild Things Are’s beautiful pictures really bring the story to life and keeps children coming back for more. I swear, when most children pick up this book they can’t put it down.
- Madeline by Ludwig Bemelans: This book maybe better for an advanced Grade 2 student, but with that in mind, if your child can handle it I say let them read it. This is a classic, more realistic story that every child should have the pleasure to read.
For Children in Late Elementary School (Grade 3 to Grade 6)
- The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: Another Shel Silverstein book (yes, we love him) for more advanced readers. The reason I categorized this book in the more advanced section is because it deals with many important, more mature issues, such as love, self-sacrifice and environmental conservation. A little more maturity that comes with age might be needed to fully grasp and understand this book.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: Arguably the most classic book in all of literature, Charlotte’s Web has survived the test of time. For myself, the well mapped out characters really bring this book to life and make it a necessity for every person to read.
- Early Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets): Has your child read the Harry Potter series yet? They should! They’re great books that tap and allow your child to grow their imagination. However, due to the more mature and darker content in the later books, I can only recommend the first two books in the series for younger children.
For Children in Middle School
- Later Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Just like the first two books in the Harry Potter series, the final five books in the series are amazing. However, these books are more mature so it might be better for a middle schooler to read it.
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: The ultimate survival adventure story. This book is intense, adventurous and good for any boy or girl. Hard to really describe the book without ruining it. All I can say is your child should read it!
For Children in High School
- The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: The Holocaust will be discussed frequently during your child’s high school education. Before beginning grade nine, I believe an introduction to the emotional and complex time period should be given. This book by Anne Frank, a young girl and victim of the Holocaust, really puts the entire situation into context. However, just a warning, expect many questions about the Holocaust after your child reads this book.
- How To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: If there is one novel that will stay with a child for the rest of their life this is the book. The book is extremely emotional and really a good lesson on why people act in certain ways. Mature content is why I believe this book is only appropriate for students in grade 11 and 12.
- Macbeth and/or Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare: Shakespeare is hard to read. Some children might have an easier time with it, but for most of us, his style of writing is simply outdated. Even if his style of writing is outdated, his stories themes and characters are timeless. With Shakespeare’s impeccable storytelling ability, he is a must for any child to read. However, due to the difficult and vocabulary in the books I recommend buying your child a copy with some modern day of phrases translations in the footnotes.
This is a small list of the thousands of books your child could read. What is your or your child’s favourite book to read? Tell me in the comments below!
All the best,