Even when the holidays arrive, it can be difficult to switch off the busy lifestyle that we’ve all become so used to. How do we learn to slow down, and really experience this special time of year?
I’m a firm believer in the power of poetry and prose, read aloud, to change the rhythm of our interactions with the children we teach, as well as the kids we live with. Good writing comes with its own built-in rhythm, and it just doesn’t work if you rush it. If you’re looking for a way to bring some of that holiday spirit into your world, and you’re not quite sure where to start, then look up some of these great resources. Take a few moments – heck, take a few hours! – and open up a classic holiday poem, or a short story.
Whether you’re sharing with little children who want you to repeat the funniest lines over and over again, or with older kids who can take turns being the ‘storyteller’, reading portions out loud, you’ll find your day has slowed down, and some of the magic of the holidays has come alive.
Some suggestions for poetry and prose that you can read together
One of the wonderful things about literature is that there are so many genres to choose from. Adults often shy away from reading the ‘classics’ to children, imagining that the use of long words or archaic language will make the selection boring or incomprehensible. This really isn’t true. Because good writing has rhyme and/or metre, even young children are generally able to figure out unusual and new words from the context, as they’re being carried along by the structure of the selection. For that matter, it’s certainly not necessary to understand every word in order to enjoy the feel of a piece. Not knowing what a “tuffet” is has never stopped children from enjoying and memorizing “Little Miss Muffet!” We do kids a disservice when we censor their reading and listening before they’ve even had a chance to get acquainted with authors from the past.
Why not try a reading of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales?” This beautiful, evocative short story builds a powerful picture in the mind immediately. When the children listening interrupt to ask what a word means, use that as a means to draw them even more deeply into the story. Older writing is not holy ground, just because it’s old. Let them guess what mufflers and busbies are! Let them imagine themselves right there in the story.
Of course, the all-time Christmas classic has to be Clement Moore’s “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, with it’s immortal opening line, “’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house…” Do you know that Mr. Moore wrote this enduringly appealing poem as a Christmas gift for his children? We can thank an enthusiastic houseguest for taking it to the local paper to be published, and giving us all a gem to share with children ever since. It’s a perfect example of an adult taking time to really BE with the children in his life.
And now for something completely different…
My newest ebook is called Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney. If you’re looking for something more light-hearted to share with your kids, then this is it. You know by now that I love to write funny poems for (and often with) kids, and I hope that this one will have you sharing belly-laughs this holiday season. It’s available now for Kindle, nook, and iBooks.
Of course, there are other special occasions to celebrate at this time of year, and you’ll find a wealth of resources on the net. Eva Grant has written some delightful Hanukkah poems, for instance, and there are many sites with thought-provoking stories and poems themed for Kwanzaa and the various international New Year celebrations. Whatever the faith and culture of the children you know, you can always find something special to share with them. No matter what you choose, the best part of it is simply that you have taken the time to do so. That makes ANY piece of writing special to children who long for the adults around them to give them one precious thing… TIME.