Happy National Poetry Month

The little book below, A Psalm of Life, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was published sometime in the 1900s by Cupples and Leon, NY. It is from my grandparents library. I always loved digging in their library, housed on a small, but important, bookcase made by Grandpa. Even more wonderful, was hearing Grandpa recite poetry. It was like hearing a great storyteller. He knew all of Snow-Bound, by John Greenleaf Whittikerand James Russell Lowell’s The Vision of Sir LaunfalI write about this and how he contributed to my love of poetry in my most recent blog: Happy National Poetry Month. I loved to get children learning poetry when I was an elementary school teacher. By the way, I never told children to learn a poem, but by the end of the year we all knew about twenty poems by heart. 

I hadn’t seen A Psalm of Life when I compiled and edited the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow addition to the Sterling Press Poetry for Young People series. When I found it, it was like meeting an old friend as I had read so much of Longfellow’s work in selecting poetry for the book. The book is an example of beautiful words, beautifully presented. I think I had something similar in mind when I had children illustrate the poems we learned over a year together.

Longfellow 2.jpg

Girl Protagonists

Have you ever thought about how many girls are the lead character, or protagonist, in the books you read? I came across an interesting essay about gender bias. Teaching artist and writer, Judy Sobeloff says there is a “golden ratio,” that is, “For every smart/brave/adventurous fictional heroine, the author must supply 1.618 boys.” Some people think that boys won’t read stories about girls. Others think that girl heroes have to be smarter, more daring, and braver than anyone for us to like them. In her opinion, things won’t be equal until girl heroes are as free to be vulnerable and make mistakes as they are to act in daring ways. (Judy Sobeloff “The Golden Ratio of Sexism in Children’s Literature”)

I reflect on this in light of Grace Willis, the protagonist in The Black Alabaster Box in my blog, Four Leaves and Tales. Click on the link to see the post.