Occasions big and small are celebrated with kid-friendly poems in this English/Spanish anthology compiled by Vardell and Wong (The Poetry Anthology for Science, 2014, etc.).
The latest in the Poetry Friday Anthology brings together classroom poems for nearly every day of the year and seemingly every occasion under the sun. The lighthearted collection, which is aimed at students between kindergarten and fifth grade, includes 156 poems written in English by 115 poets, with Common Core State Standards and Texas educational standards in mind. In addition to birthdays and well-known religious holidays—Christmas, Passover, Ramadan, etc.—the poetry marks national traditions such as Thanksgiving and Groundhog Day as well as more obscure dates on the calendar like National Hat Day, Band-Aid Day, and International Dinosaur Month. The anthology looks beyond the United States to educate students about festivals throughout the world, too, such as Nepal’s Dashain and Japan’s Obon. It also celebrates diversity at home, with poems observing holidays such as Gay Pride Day, Arab American Heritage Month, and National Blended Family Day. Each poem is accompanied by its Spanish translation, an important addition given that Spanish is the most spoken non-English language in the U.S., not to mention the wide range of benefits learning a foreign language can have on the developing brain. The translations might, perhaps unintentionally, also serve as a minilesson in the notorious difficulty of moving poetry from one language into another: rhymes and rhythms in the original are oftentimes missing in the Spanish, and in a collection of punchy children’s verse, the lack of musicality is noticeable. In general, the poems are didactic in content, but scattered among the straightforward fare are several more whimsical compositions that might elicit a chuckle or two from parents helping their little ones with homework. “Picky Eater” by Matt Forrest Esenwine particularly stands out for its Seussian style: “but please don’t give me / Sugar Smacks, / or stars or squares or flakes / you’ve found— / I only eat, you see, / what’s round.”
A bubbly and educational bilingual poetry anthology for children.