Friday, April 23, 2010
Friday's "Forgotten" Books: Poetry Anthologies for Young Readers
As a young reader in the 1970s, particularly one who began 1st grade in 1970 and was reading essentially only adult materials by the end of the '70s, it both is and isn't remarkable how much of my reading in the earlier years of the decade was driven by Scholastic Book Services and in a strong second place, by Dell Books, particularly with their Yearling and Laurel Leaf lines...these were the default sources of books in grade-school classrooms and the other not-quite libraries that dotted the suburban public schools I attented in that decade (the Enfield, Connecticut school had a bathtub full of cushions among more conventional chairs in its own nook in a hallway, that kids, wild dreams of freedom for elementary school kids today I gather, could be excused from class to go crash in and read books from spinner racks (a few Harper Trophy titles and similar items mixed in with the Dells and Scholastics there).
And while I was introduced to poetry by my earliest reading, Seuss and Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, in its odd Little Golden Book edition, among others, and certainly would come across poetry in my reading texts and in my recreational reading (not least Poe, of course, but also the likes of Stephen Vincent Benet), the first four poetry anthologies I owned were three from Scholastic (their edition of Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle, pictured above, a collection of modern verse; the largely but not exclusively older work in The Charge of the Light Brigade and Other Story Poems, and one which I have buried in storage but can't find a reference to online, with a title very like 100 Great American Poems) and one Dell Yearling edition (I Heard a Scream in the Street, a collection of poems by children, mostly urban kids, illustrated with photos by students, edited by Nancy Larrick). They gave me a grounding in the art, and a good sense of the range of what was possible in the form...and more Benet, and among my first exposures to William Stafford's work, among others.
I have to wonder if anyone else remembers that 100 American title better than I do...
For more Friday Forgotten Books, please see Patti Abbott's blog for a list of all the participants in this weekly review.