A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the power the sound of our language has in a child’s life, so I just have to tell you a little story from last library day.
As I conversed with a Dad about his plans for formal schooldays in the coming years, he mentioned that he reads poetry to his little girls every day at lunch. Just the other day, he said, it was that famous poem “Digging” by Seamus Heaney. We had been talking about how children are perceptive, intuitive, and sensitive and how their simple observations leave us speechless. That’s what had happened to him after reading that poem. On a whim, he asked them what they thought of the poem. They chattered about potato digging. Then Daddy said, “But the man who wrote this poem wasn’t digging for potatoes, was he?” His five-year- old responded, “No, I think he was digging for memories.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
So much for waiting for children to be “ready” for mature literature. So much for careful poetic analysis. She’s probably never dug potatoes, or been to Ireland, or knows anything of poetic metaphor and scansion. For that matter, she’s too young to even have that many memories or care much about them.
But, she gets it. She saw the pictures in her imagination, she caught the tone and sympathy of the poet, and heard his message loud and clear.
Here’s Heaney reading it himself.
“Let the little children come to me and forbid them not,” said Jesus; “His God doth instruct him,” said Isaiah, and Charlotte Mason believed the word and gives them poetry unhampered by critique and lecture, knowing that they are fully capable of tasting, touching, listening, and understanding without our aid.
For the joy of reading,