I seem to have strangely fallen in love with poetry during lockdown. I’m not talking about the highbrow stuff that doesn’t rhyme in any way. Instead I’m into the rhyming, slightly silly stuff that will leave a smile on your face. The sort of poem that may be slightly nonsense in content, but amuses people. Basically the type of poem that loads of wonderful primary school teachers are recording themselves reading and then uploading online as a way for them to stay in touch with their school classes.
I’m responsible for uploading a load of these to YouTube for the school where I’m a governor and it’s lovely seeing grown ups read stories and poems to kids. Kind of like a CBeebies bedtime story, but when you know the presenters really well. It’s made me think about the poems I loved as a child and the ones that used to make me laugh. Maybe that’s why I’ve been drawn to Comic and Curious Verse for this week’s Ladybird Tuesday.
Published in 1983 as part of the Poetry series 831 I’m pretty sure I had a copy of Comic and Curious Verse as a child. It just seems so comfortingly familiar. The verses inside come from a variety of sources and include names like Spike Milligan, Edward Lear, Roger McGough (who I was lucky enough to have visit my primary school when I was a child), Michael Rosen and Ted Hughes.
The verses themselves are all somewhat bizarre in different ways. Some well known to us adults, but I imagine that as a kid hearing any of them for the first time could really make you laugh. Some really are proper laugh out loud funny and others just plain odd; yet in a good way. All are illustrated in the bright and colourful style that so many Ladybird books had in the late 70s and early 80s. Certainly when you look at them today they appear very much of their time in a lovely retro way.
What books like Comic and Curious Verse do remind me of though is just how good it is to read poetry, and stories, aloud to children. To let them hear words. To let them hear the rhyming and rhythm. To let them hear the person reading it laughing with them. To see how reading something out loud can be a performance, even if there is only one person in the audience. I know children are often read to in class, but I guess as parents we don’t really see that. Instead we’re just more used to the cosy bedtime stories that we share with our kids. If anything, lockdown has taught me not to restrict reading aloud to the kids just to bedtime.
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads, where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and this post originally appeared on there. I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.