Sharing stories of Emily Dickinson with my children

Reading about Emily Dickinson seemed like the natural progression after reading about Christina Rossetti. Both poets were born around the same time, though Emily died earlier than Christina. Emily probably read some of Christina’s writings, and we know that after Emily died Christina read a book of her poetry. Yet the two women were in different countries, with Christina living in England and Emily in the USA. My library had two children’s books about Emily Dickinson, both talking about a child’s view of Emily, so I started with those. Those weren’t nearly enough for me, so I dug around through Continue reading

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

While reading about Christina Rossetti, I couldn’t help becoming interested in the story of her brother Dante too. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a member of a group that jokingly referred to themselves as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, signing PRB after their names. He was the older brother of Christina Rossetti. Named Gabriel, he choose to add the name Dante, as the Italian poet was an important part of upbringing – each of the four Rossetti siblings published something about Dante at some point in their lives. Dante fell in love with one of his models, a working class woman named Elizabeth Continue reading

Christina Rossetti – philosophical questions within her poetry & life

┬áThis is a follow-up post to the my previous post about lesson ideas based on Christina Rossetti. These are the deeper topics I found while reading about Christina, and I felt the deserved a separate page rather than be mixed in with the previous posts ideas. These are things I’ve been discussing and will continue to discuss with my children, and they are questions I wonder about in my every day life. Feminism Christina Rossetti lived during a time when politicians were concerned about the number of single women (according to William Rathbone Greg in 1851 only 57% of women Continue reading

Christina Rossetti – ideas for lesson plans and activities

Christina Rossetti is best known for her children’s poems, like “Who Has Seen the Wind?” and her poem “In the Bleak Midwinter” which is sung at Christmas time. Yet she wrote many other poems, and some short stories. She lived from 1830 to 1894. She never married but lived devoted to her family, her poetry and her religion. Bout-rimes Growing up her family wrote poetry as a game, where they would give each other rhymes with which to end the lines and then have to compose a sonnet based on it. One example of a set of end-rhymes was: “shun, Continue reading

Of Quarks, Quasars, and Other Quirks: Quizzical Poems for the Supersonic Age

Of Quarks, Quasars, and Other Quirks: Quizzical Poems for the Supersonic Age is a neat book of poems for children. It was published in 1977 and includes poems dating back to 1925. The poems are skeptical of progress and the future, and yet the future they speak of seems quaintly past. For example: the 16 year old “telephone Queen” who uses her parents phone because using her own might prevent her from getting calls on it obviously doesn’t have call waiting.There are poems skeptical of the “all-electric castle” that can be defiled by an “errant fuse.” Other poems scoff at Continue reading

Train Poems

If you’ve read a Thomas the Train Engine story, you might have noticed that the trains tend to speak in a particular rhythm. “I’m going to burst! I’m going to burst!” cries Thomas when his boiler is plugged with fish. “I hope it’s all right, I hope it’s all right,” Annie and Clarabelle (the train cars) whisper to each other. There’s a rhythm to the train cars speech that resemble the sounds of the train wheels jostling over the tracks. The stories are of course in prose but well written prose often contain elements of poetry. The poet Ford Madox Continue reading

Playing with the Poems of Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee is one of my favorite children’s poets.┬áHis poetry books are filled with easy to memorize nonsensical rhymes. Some, like a handful of poems in his book Jelly Belly, crib heavily off of traditional nursery rhymes but updated for the modern age. Some make good jump-rope chants and some lend themselves to silly finger games. When my oldest son was younger he had a game pretending to be the might hunters from a poem in Bubblegum Delicious. This week we’ve been reading and rereading Jelly Belly. My four year old loves to jump into my arms and be shaken Continue reading