Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Way to a Boy's Heart

Since we opened our library, I have learned innumerable astonishing things about children and their tastes in books. One of these surprises is that boys love poetry.

My curiosity was aroused when I realized that so many young boys wanted to check out the book The Duchess Bakes a Cake. After all, it's about a lady, 13 daughters, and baking. I concluded it was because it also had knights and castles. So much for stereotypes.

One day when I heard a fan chanting, "a lovely, light, luscious, delectable cake," I had a flash of insight. To confirm my suspicion, moms occasionally had been confiding that they were surprised their son enjoyed a story written in rhyme or even a book of poetry. I began to have a theory. After 6 years it has been tested and seems to be holding up.

And why not? Everyone knows boys love to make mouth noises, though they are not always big on using words. I think this is the attraction of poetry for them. The rhythm, the repetition, the rhyme appeals to noise-making, drumming, emphatic, bouncing boys. Physically, they do seem to require inordinate amounts of activity, but, at the same time, they are also all heart and poetry speaks to the heart as no other literature can. I am not suggesting that you will get your sons to readily admit this fact, however.

Still, men have written beautiful poetry and our little men need to be reading their words, their thoughts, and their feelings. Somehow, our culture does not have a deep connection to poetry in general. There is often the perception that it is a mysterious art for an exclusive group.

If you value beauty, goodness, and truth, but haven't explored the world of poetry, let me encourage you to begin. The only way to appreciate poetry is to read it. The only way to get comfortable reading poems is to keep reading them. The best way to read them is out loud. A lot of the pleasure of poetry comes with speaking it. Don't worry about the "right way." It's kind of like singing, do it more and more often and it will become comfortable.

Poetry ministers to our spirits. It brings understanding of our world, our fellow man, and ourselves uniquely because it speaks directly from heart to heart. Your boys (and girls of course) need to have poetry in their ears and thoughts to feed their souls. It is one of the special ways God speaks to us, as is apparent from the liberal supply of poetry in the Bible. That mighty king of Israel, that brave shepherd boy who took down a giant with a sling, was the "sweet singer of Israel," and, "a man after God's own heart." All the other poets have left gifts for us as well. Don't let your boys miss them.

For the joy of reading,


A List of Poets/Poetry Books To Get You Started

For Your Little Men:
A. A. Milne
Walter De La Mare
Robert Louis Stevenson
Christina Rossetti
James Whitcom Riley
William Blake

And Bigger Little Men:

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