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One of my earliest childhood memories is of me at home “reading” and chanting along to a record of a short rhyming picture book. The book, Over in the Meadow, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats and based on the original version by Olive A. Wadsworth, was a gift from my grandparents and uncle. It begins:
“Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the sun,
lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one…”
I don’t know what happened to the record, but I still have that much-loved book. At its simplest, it’s a 391-word counting poem that showcases meadow animal mothers and their babies, but to me it’s much more. This tiny gem of poetry tapped on my heart and my mind beginning my love of rhythm and rhyme. That led to a love of stories and poems and prompted my interest in reading, and that grew into my interest in writing my own stories and poetry.
April is National Poetry Month and this seemed like a good opportunity to think about poetry’s influence in our reading or writing lives. I’m sure that some of us read and/or write a great deal of poetry, while others of us may read or write poetry a little or not at all. Whether or not you are a current fan of poetry, though, I bet you can remember a favorite lullaby, prayer, schoolyard chant, campfire song, story in verse, nursery rhyme, picture book, or poetry collection – some tiny gem of poetry that a caring grown-up or an older sibling introduced to you that tapped on your heart and your mind, that you invited in and you have kept with you for all these years, and as it turns out, is more than a tiny gem of poetry because it is partially responsible for inspiring you to love rhythm and rhyme, or reading and stories, or writing and storytelling.
What tiny gem of poetry inspired you when you were a child?
Tamera Wissinger is the author of Gone Fishing A Novel In Verse (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, March 2013) a spring 2013 Junior Library Guild recommendation, and the forthcoming This Old Band (Sky Pony Press, 2014). She is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults. Tamera is lucky enough to live on a river bay in Florida. You can find Tamera on her Website, Goodreads, Twitter, or Facebook.