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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Emmy winner for children's programming is just fine for the preschool set, but elementary-aged kids will get the most out of it. Not only will kids hear some great poems, but they'll see kids express what they love about them, how they listen to poetry, and even how to count out the syllables of a haiku. The content is very mild. Some poems mention romance and one uses the word "lovers," and another poem laments the loss of the buffalo.
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What's the story?
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF POETRY weaves together poems from great writers (Langston Hughes, Li Bai, Matsuo Basho, Robert Frost, and more) and many interviews with children that explore their experience of poetry. Some poems are read by acclaimed actors and musicians, and some are read by the poets themselves, taken from old recordings. Animation accompanies many poems, as do the words posted large on the screen. In one scene, a class learns the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet; in another, singer Natalie Merchant sets the poem "Calico Pie" to jaunty music. One child reads a poem in Chinese, then English. Another uses sign language while a poem is read aloud.
Is it any good?
What a lovely treat. And just like many good poems, this DVD is brief (27 minutes) and dense with meaning, encouraging viewers to go back again and again to get more out of it.
When you look at the packaging touting a laundry list of artists reading the poems, you expect them to steal the show. But thankfully it's the kids who are the stars here, along with the poems themselves. The young interviewees highlight the poems in ways kids will relate to and express themselves beautifully. The animation keeps it simple while still being lovely, and the music Merchant sets to the poem "Calico Pie" is a rollicking reminder that poetry can be as fun as it is meaningful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about taking the time to enjoy poetry. Do you read it as a family? If not, did this DVD encourage you to incorporate more poetry into evening story time?
The featured kids all said something different about poetry. Are you excited to learn more now that you see other kids enjoying and understanding poetry?
Which poem did you like the best? Why? Which poem made you stop and think about what it meant?
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