The most random and interesting topics come up at the office urinals. This is probably something women would never understand. But on a recent afternoon, a big-shot senior partner at my firm asked the following quite natural bathroom-time question: "Zardowally, do you read poetry to your children?" Needless to say, I was unprepared for this question. But it got me thinking whether poetry does deserve a more prominent place in the rearing and education of our youngsters.
Celebrated children's books today seem to be strictly prose, though many of the classics have a poetic element. I think of "Where the Wild Things Are." There is the Mother Goose stuff, but my kiddos seem genuinely baffled by topics and scenarios that are just too out-of-date. Doctor Seuss is good, if you can handle the weirdness. As a result of the limited poetry to which young children are exposed, their first experience is probably in the school setting where they are required to read and memorize poems without the chance to just enjoy them. I have to believe that young children would love and benefit from a bit more poetry--just as they love to sing and repeat nonsensical phrases they find amusing.
It might also be good for their souls. I think of C.S. Lewis's, "Surprised by Joy," in which he credits the "stabs of joy" he experienced reading poetry as a young boy as a haunting influence that eventually led him to find true and lasting joy in the Christian faith.
I would be curious for Snuggery readers' thoughts and recommendations.