“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
— Emilie Buchwald
Parents often ask me how they can help their children become readers. I tell them to read to them early and often. There is an extensive research base supporting this advice. (Reach Out & Read and Reading Rockets have thorough summaries.) The National Center for Family Literacy and The Yale Reading Center are just two of the many websites with resources for parents and teachers. And the variety and quality of children’s books being published today is astounding.
Poetry is especially well suited for little ones. They love the rhythm, rhyme and word play found in nursery rhymes and poems. When my boys were little, we all looked forward to our ritual bedtime reading. We had many Mother Goose collections and rhyming books, and this was one of our favorites.
“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod”
by Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe–
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked of the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea–
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish–
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam–
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought ‘twas a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea—
But I shall name you the fisherman three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Be sure to visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem… for the Poetry Friday Round Up.