April is poetry month, and at the library, we’re making our poetry evening an annual event. This is a time for poetry lovers of all ages to come together and share their favourite poems. Ook will probably be having a representative read from one of his favourite poets, A. A. Milne.
Milne, of course, is the author of Winnie-the-Pooh. (Banish all thoughts of Disney from your minds and come to the library to sign out the REAL Pooh.) He also wrote two books of poetry for children, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. These have been published in one volume as The World of Christopher Robin, a companion to The World of Pooh, which contains both Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.
Milne wrote to be read aloud to children, and you should do so. Don’t wait until they’re in school. Start with your wee ones. Even if the meaning of the words is lost on them, even if they’re not saying anything but, “Muhmuhmuhbah,” themselves yet, the rhythm of language and the patterns of the words are sinking deep into those tiny brains, preparing them for when they start to talk. Poetry is one of the most enjoyable ways I can think of to share time and language with your baby. Milne is a master. No missed rhythms or awkwardly-forced rhymes here to make your tongue stumble (except for comic effect).
These aren’t sleepy little lullabies either. Some capture beautifully a child’s perspective on the world. Some do so with affectionate irony. Some tell stories. All paint wonderful word-pictures in imaginations young and old, complemented by Ernest H. Shepard’s line drawings.
The library board has recently purchased a copy of The World of Christopher Robin. We don’t have it on our shelves yet, but it should be here (it is hoped) by our poetry evening. And if not, Ook will make sure someone brings a copy from home. The hard part will be deciding which poem to read.