I believe this book belongs in every classroom, every home, and in every child’s life. It is a wondrous book to read, to look at, to memorize, and to talk about with the children around you. It is a Literary Madeleine, scrumptious in every way.
The full title is Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, edited by Fiona Water and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, it is a wonder. Can you tell I’ve fallen in love?
Imagine in your classroom, or in your home, that you have a ritual of reading this book each day at a certain time. The children will look forward to it. There are 333 pages in this large-format book. You’ll find a poem for each day. Sometimes there is one poem on two pages and sometimes there are three poems on one page. They are often short poems (memorizable) and once in awhile there’s a longer poem. The poetry ranges from “Who Has Seen the Wind?,” by Christina Rosetti (January 17th), to “April Rain Song,” by Langston Hughes (April 4th), to “Squishy Words (to Be Said When Wet),” by Alistair Reid (August 4th), to “At Nine of the Night I Opened My Door,” by Clive Causley (December 24th),
I love the poetry selections but I marvel at the illustrations. They are two-page spreads, painted by one artist, and each one is a reward for turning the page. A new subject! Painted with a new palette of colors! And the poem for that day is reflected beautifully in the seasonally appropriate painting.
Kate Wilson, the publisher of this book, writes this in her introduction: “For my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a book that–like this one–contained hundreds of poems. It was a small, fat book without pictures. At first I found it daunting: without pictures, there was nothing to catch my eye, nothing to lead me into the book. But one rainy day after school, I took it down and began to read. And that was it for me: I fell in love with poetry, with rhyme, with rhythm, with the way that poetry squashed big feelings, big thoughts, big things, into tiny boxes of brilliance for the reader to unpack. It became my favorite book. I have it still. It is stuffed with little slips of paper that I used to mark the poems I liked best. As I grew older, those poems changed: a poem that baffled and bored me when I was seven revealed itself to me years later. I learned many of them by heart and could still recite them to you now.”
I had a book like that: Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls, by Helen Ferris. I have it still. It brought me to poetry, which I started writing when I was in third grade. I have a respect and love for poetry to this day. And isn’t that what we want for our children? A steady path to connect with the beauty of words and big thoughts?
The book’s design is thoughtful. There is a shiny ribbon to mark your place. There is a Table of Contents for the book, a Table of Contents for each season, an index of poets, an index of poems, and an index of first lines! You can find your favorite poem again and again.
As your child grows to love poetry, as they get older, remember to supplement this book with other slim volumes of poetry such as If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas, One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes, World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo. There are hundreds of wonderful books of poetry … but Sing a Song of Seasons will be a compelling door to that world.
Imagine each morning in your classroom, pulling this book down from its special shelf, opening it to the day’s poem, showing your students the art for that day, and reading the poem out loud. If your students are old enough, perhaps a round-robin of children would read the day’s poem.
At home, what better way to start or end each day than with a few moments of quiet while you read the book together?
Of course, you will open the book immediately to find your birthday poem and anniversary poem. Oak trees and acorns figure large in our family’s life. We were delighted to find that the two-page illustration for our anniversary is filled with oak leaves and acorns! Did I mention that I am in love with this book? You will be, too.