Have you made time in your life and homeschool for poetry? There is something wonderful about filling your mind with beautiful language and thoughts.
Reading and memorizing poetry was on my list of important educational experiences, but recently it was bumped up to priority status by this article (go read it!) by Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. He maintains that memorizing poetry is one of the two most important exercises your children can do to increase their writing and communication skills.
The Harp and the Laurel Wreath (above) is one of the first poetry investments I made. It is an excellent and extensive resource. It contains a large selection of poetry, Bible passages, speeches, Latin prayers, and writings for memorization. These are divided into four broad stages corresponding with the three stages of classical education (grammatical, dialectical, and rhetorical) with an additional category for the early years.
The first three stages conclude with passages for dictation. The rhetorical stage includes terms to know for the study of poetry and study questions (and answers!) for each poetry selection.
This collection is a generous value for the price, and a must-have for homeschool libraries or for those adults wanting to read or memorize poetry to enrich their lives.
My second recommendation for poetry memorization is Andrew Pudewa's Developing Linguistic Patterns Through Poetry Memorization (book and CD). As the author of the article linked above, Andrew Pudewa has developed a fascinating poetry memorization program utilizing the Suzuki Method for mastery learning.
It is much less expensive to purchase this program without the audio CDs, but I highly recommend them if they are in the budget. We listen to them endlessly in the car while heading to and from activities. I enjoy hearing the poetry with emotion and inflection, and the boys have the opportunity to cement the language in their minds without me reading the poems over and over and over. Even Leif can anticipate words and sounds as we drive along. I love watching his mouth move and hearing his mumbling sounds as he follows along.
This program has several levels, but at each level Pudewa alternates long and short poems for variety. Some are humorous, some are serious. Many of the poems are ones that are easily appreciated by boys (which is helpful in this house, of course).
If you are searching for a general book of poetry, with an audio CD no less, search no further. With poetry by William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Shakespeare, Homer, Robert Browning, and so many more, A Child's Introduction to Poetry: Listen While You Learn About the Magic Words That Have Moved Mountains, Won Battles, and Made Us Laugh and Cry will introduce kids to a wide variety of verse.
Nursery rhymes, nonsense verse, limericks, haiku, narrative verse, and ballads are a few of the styles of poetry explained along with numerous examples of each. The second half of the book contains samples of the famous works of poetry's greats (Homer, John Milton, Elizabeth Barrett Browning...).
The accompanying CD is another that plays often in our car. The poems are so varied and alternate between male and female voice, so that it never grows old.
While I'm on a roll, let me mention a similar resource featuring Shakespeare's incredible use of language.
The Young Person's Guide to Shakespeare is, I believe, not readily available new, but is worth purchasing used. Again, we listen to the audio CD often in the house or the car. The boys and I found the speech from Henry V fascinating (on the recording, particularly) and were motivated to memorize it. Leif even gets in a few words here and there.
Our language arts program, First Language Lessons, incorporates the memorization of poetry alongside the other language skills for those who would like an all-in-one language program for early elementary ages.Interested in Bible memory? By far, my favorite resource would be the audio CDs from Sing the Word. The recordings have an excellent musical quality. Obviously the talent drips from this family! We memorized the verses from Sing the Word from A to Z last year and are currently working on the Biblical selections on A New Commandment.
All of the books, CDs, and programs I've listed here are useful and enjoyed by a wide range of ages. You will find yourself utilizing them for years to come!