Kids have more imaginative minds than we give them credit for — and believe it or not, sometimes they have an easier time interpreting complex imagery than even we do. For that reason, there’s really no “bad” poem to read your kids. Maybe put down Edgar Allen Poe for a few minutes before bed, but in general your best judgement will usually do the trick. That said, here are one or two of our very favorites.
“The Crocodile” was written by Lewis Carroll, a poet who lived from 1832-1898 — and proof that oldies can still be goodies. This strange poem provides a gentle aura to creatures that are usually terrifying.
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!
Here are a couple stanzas from Edward Hirsch’s “Fall,” a poem about seasonal change. We strongly recommend sharing this one over a mug of hot chocolate on a cool autumn day. Hirsch’s ability to set the mood of fall is exemplary by nearly any measure of the written word.
Fall, falling, fallen. That’s the way the season
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition
With the final remaining cardinals) and then
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground.
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance,
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud
Blamelessly filling the space with purples.