Amanda Gorman, a Harvard scholar and the USA’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, captured the world’s attention on Wednesday – introducing a whole new generation to the power of poetry. Her moving poem, The Hill We Climb, painted a picture of a deeply divided and wounded nation (following, among other things, the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol) – whilst also delivering a message of hope for the future:
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
and the norms and notions of what “just” is isn’t always justice.
And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
For the reasons mentioned above, Wednesday 20th January was certainly a red-letter day: not only for democracy and progressiveness, but also for poetry! Thanks to Amanda Gorman, poetry is now firmly in the spotlight once more. What better time, then, to introduce children to the wonder of verse?
A 2018 study conducted by the National Literacy Trust found that almost 50% of young people respond extremely positively to poetry: choosing to read it in their free time, as well as listening to it, writing it, and even performing it.
If you are looking for some new forms of literature to explore with your child or tutee, here are some of Mentor Education’s favourite poetry anthologies.
This magical collection, which was published in collaboration with the National Trust, includes an animal poem for every day of the year. It features class poems such as ‘The Arctic Fox’ by Ted Hughes and modern delights like ‘The Wasp’ by Carol Ann Duffy. A really special, characterful selection that will not only introduce young readers to the magic of poetry, but also nurture a respect for the natural world.
If you hadn’t already guessed, we’re big fans of the ‘poem a day’ format, and this marvellous tome is no exception. Rather than animals, Esiri’s collection has been curated to reflect key dates: festive Christmas rhymes, humorous April Fool’s Day poems, and so on, creating an atmospheric world of poetry for children to delight in. Featuring respected heavyweights like T.S. Eliot, William Shakespeare and Seamus Heaney, this is the perfect book to dip into on a daily basis.
The Girl Who Became a Tree is lauded playwright and performance poet Joseph Coelho’s first novel in verse: a what a wonderful novel it is, with gorgeous illustrations by Kate Milner.
It is Coelho’s firm belief that ‘poetry is innate and belongs to everyone’, and this is demonstrated perfectly in The Girl Who Becomes a Tree, a highly accessible, humorous and engaging retelling of the Greek myth of Daphne (who, in order to escape the attentions of the god Apollo, prayed to her father – a river god – to turn her into a tree).
This fantastic collection, which was collated by former children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, is an anthology with a twist: a selection of poetry that has been chosen to speak out loud. Perfect for introducing reticent readers and budding performers to the wonderful world of poetry, Poems to Perform features verse full of alliteration, powerful rhythms, engaging rhymes, and words that trip off the tongue. A great book to pick up of an evening and read aloud with your child.