Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Poetry for Kids: Carl Sandburg

The beauty of poetic language and imagery can spur the imagination of young children. It is the mystery of poetry that it can inspire and elicit emotion independent of intellectual 'understanding'. We don't have to know how a poems works, or its every reference, to be moved. A poem is not a riddle to solve. A poem 'is'.

The MoonDance Press Poetry for Kids series provides a wonderful resource for introducing children to the magic of  America's great poets.


The latest book in the Poetry for Kids series is Carl Sandburg. Thirty-five age-appropriate poems for children age 8 to 13, selected by Kathryn Benzel, are accompanied by colorful original illustrations by Robert Crawford.

The Introduction is a brief biography of Carl Sandburg. He was born in 1878 to immigrant parents in Galesburg, Illinois. Typical of his generation and class, after he left school after 8th grade to work at menial jobs. He moved to Chicago before hopping a boxcar at age 19 to see America. 

Sandburg's poems are 'of the people,' from the prairie to the city factories, embracing his experience of American life from Reconstruction to the Depression, through two world wars to the invention of television and transcontinental flight. 

The poems are divided thematically: poems about people and poems about places.

Poems about people include interactions with the natural and human-made world. 


A boy studies nature in Young Bullfrogs, while I Am the People, the Mob extols workers and creators, the common people who make the world go.

Jazz Fantasia celebrates the free-form quintessential American music while Buffalo Bill recalls a boy's idolization of the Old West.
Poems about places begins with Sandburg's most famous poem, Fog, and includes Limited about the 'crack train' of the nation carrying passengers who don't look beyond their next stop. 

River Roads, Valley Song, and Between Two Hills--poems about the country--are balanced by Street Window, The Skyscraper Loves Night, and a selection from 'Smoke and Steel.'

The illustrations by Robert Crawford are beautiful: A man and his dog under the flowering fuchsia canopy of a crab-apple tree at dusk; a bright Jack-o-lantern at night; a girl on a pier under a purple sky reflected upon the lake.

Included are helps for parents or young readers: Explanations for Understanding offers definitions and historical information, and "What Carl Was Thinking" has a brief description of the poem's meaning or origin.

Poetry for Kids Emily Dickinson was published in October 2016.

These are wonderful books for the classroom, for family reading, or to gift to older children.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Poetry for Kids Carl Sandburg
Kathryn Benzel
Moon Dance Press
$14.95 hardcover
Publication April 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781633221512, 1633221512