Playing with words.

Author:Bashir, Samiya A.
Position:Brief Article - Bibliography

Children's poetry has long been a staple of the learning process, and there are a number of wonderful books out there that will help your child learn language, and imaginative skills, while developing a love of poetry that will last a lifetime. From new books that are being released, representing worlds in which our children can see themselves, to the classics, here are some selections that grown-ups and children can have fun with together!

ABC of African American Poetry written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, January 2001, $5.99, ISBN 0-689-84045-4

This colorful collection takes children on an alphabetic journey through excerpts from the work of some of the great African American poets in history. Younger children will love the bright illustrations and way the alphabet pops into the poetry, while older children will be able to comprehend some of the larger issues that poetry addresses and may be inspired to seek out more of their work. This is a great book to work on important language skills with children while celebrating National Poetry Month.

The Book of Rhythms by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Matt Wawiorka Oxford University Press, 1995, ISBN 0-195-14306-X

Originally published by Hughes in 1954, this reissue, illustrated 40 years later by Wawiorka, offers children a window into rhythm, as seen and quirkily explained by one of our most popular poets. School-age children can follow Hughes as he finds the rhythm inherent in every aspect of daily life from the flap of an insect's wings, to the swoop of grandma's rocking chair and "the flicker of a fish, the leap of a monkey, the wiggle of a puppy, the dive of a heron, the balance of hummingbirds." Fun to read over and again--children will pick up something new each time.

DeShawn Days by Tony Medina, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie Lee & Low Books, April 2001, $16.95, ISBN 1-584-30022-1

In this new release, celebrated New York poet Tony Medina takes to the illustrated page and brings young readers uptown and into the world of 10-year-old DeShawn. Medina's poetry is immediately accessible to young readers and he sketches a world filled with learning, love, fear, joy and loss intimately matched by Christie's colorfully eerie artwork.

Poems like "What Life is Like in the `Hood," "I Hate Graffiti," "My Friend in School" help children address their feelings about pressing daily issues. "I used to think that watching the news was boring," says DeShawn in "Watching...

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