Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Classics for Kids

This morning on NPR, I heard an interview with Karen Jo Shapiro, Mama, author, poet and psychologist.

Karen Jo doesn't write just any old kids' poetry. She writes classics. Well, kind of.

A lifelong lover of words and meter, Karen Jo spent her youth reading and studying the poems of the masters. Once she had her daughter, she discovered a way to unite two of her life's great loves: Classical poetry and children.

Karen Jo introduces children to the rhythm and rhyme of classical poetry using subjects kids can understand. Her playful parodies of some of the English language's most beloved verse make great introductions to the great works. By shying away from the "heavier" themes of the classics, Karen Jo's poems bounce and frolic their way from Dickinson to Poe to my personal favorite, Shakespeare, while retaining the music inherent in the original work.

"Double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble," from Shakespeare's Macbeth becomes:

Bubbles, baubles, singles and doubles;
soapy bath and fishy pond,
blow some from a plastic wand.
Here a moment then they're gone.

Suddenly, the pre-K set is counting out iambs!

Listen to Karen Jo read her poetry on NPR.

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