Gwendolyn Brooks published Bronzeville Boys and Girls in 1956, a groundbreaking work of poetry about children growing up in an urban neighborhood. This book was re-illustrated and republished fifty years later with art by Faith Ringgold! I love these poems—they really hold up. Universal snippets of childhood that are grounded in the urban context (Chicago), but speak to kids today, too. Here’s one of my favorite poems from this timeless book.
I had a dream last night. I dreamed
I had to pick a Mother out.
I had to choose a Father too.
At first, I wondered what to do,
There were so many there, it seemed,
Short and tall and thin and stout.
But just before I sprang awake,
I knew what parents I would take.
And this surprised and made me glad;
They were the ones I always had!
The family unit is such an important part of the lives of children as they’re developing. Poetry can capture familiar experiences and emotions and celebrate the good times as well as reflect the special challenges of these relationships and comfort us through the bad times. Here is a selection of poetry books about family-- several set in urban contexts.
1. Greenfield, Eloise. 2009. Brother & Sisters: Family Poems. New York: HarperCollins.
2. Grimes, Nikki. 1999. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard.
3. Grimes, Nikki. 2000. Stepping out with Grandma Mac. New York: Simon & Schuster.
4. Gunning, Monica. 2004. A Shelter In Our Car. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
5. Harrison, David L. 1996. A Thousand Cousins: Poems of Family Life. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
6. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 1991. Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems. Boston: Joy Street Books.
7. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2010. Amazing Faces. Ill. By Chris Soentpiet. Lee and Low.
8. Williams, Vera B. 2001. Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart. New York: Greenwillow.
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.
Image credits: http://bookstogether.squarespace.com;tower