Christina Rossetti - Poetry Picture Books

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We recently spent 6 weeks learning about and reading poetry by Christina Rossetti. Here were some of our favorite resources.

Given how frequently you find Rossetti's poetry in children's poetry anthologies, I was surprised how difficult it was to find a compilation of her work that I liked. I ending up purchasing two books for our studies because neither of the library systems I frequent had any decent Rossetti poetry volume or biography.

You can find Rossetti's Sing Song for free online (it's in the public domain) or a cheap Dover copy online. I purchased the Dover copy but didn't end up using it with my kids. The illustrations are fine (old-fashioned but appealing), but a large number of the poems are kind of on the morbid side. About dead babies or dead animals. Lots of death. Even if I read only selections from the book, my kids would most certainly want to know what I skipped and peruse the book on their own. You can find a big set of selections from Sing Song (minus most of the morbid ones) for free on Ambleside Online. I didn't want to just read my kids the poems from a text-only copy though. I personally think the picture book format makes poetry much more accessible to and enjoyable for children.

So I opted to use Fly Away, Fly Away Over the Sea as our main read-aloud. It includes 23 of Rossetti's poems, mostly from Sing Song. We also supplemented with a few favorite poetry anthologies that featured other Rossetti poems not in the collection Fly Away, Fly Away Over the Sea.

In adddition, I also found a picture book version called What Can I Give Him? of Rossetti's poem "In the Bleak Midwinter," one of my favorite Christmas carols. I do not love the illustrations, but I do love picture book versions of poems/ songs, and my kids liked it.

For a biography we used the Rookie Biography of Christina Rossetti. This was a good fit because it was a good amount of text for my 7yo. But we also enjoyed reading the biographical information about Rossetti in A Child's Introduction to Poetry. This book features explanations of types of poetry with examples along with featured poets (biographical information plus a few selected works). An accompanying CD has readings of all the poetry included. My kids ended up being very interested in this book and looked at it quite a bit on their own.

You can find other books we've used to study poetry (as well as Shakespeare) here. Other poets we've studied include:
  • Robert Frost
  • Langston Hughes
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Gwedolyn Brooks
  • A. A. Milne
  • Alfred Lloyd Tennyson
  • Edward Lear


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