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Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Michael Emberley

Forget-Me-Nots

When I was in school, we often had to memorize and recite a poem to the class. Some of these poems have stuck with me even as an adult, and I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I can remember one. Memorizing poetry is like a game - you challenge yourself to master the poet’s words and rhythm. Once you do, you are likely to remember it for a long time. One of my kids memorized this short poem from the collection and recited it at dinner the other night when we were having peas:

I eat my peas with honey

I eat my peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife.
-Anonymous

Yes, we all tried our peas with honey after this...and they do taste funny.

Mary Ann Hoberman, Children’s Poet Laureate from 2008-2010, chose 123 poems to make up Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart because they are “memorable,” which she points out, has two meanings: “easy to remember” and “worth remembering.” Some are short, like the pea poem above, and some are longer challenges, like Edward Lear’s The Jumblies. There are poems about beasts, families, food, nature, and more. There are poems from famous writers (Roald Dahl), favorite poets (Shel Silverstein), and some I had never heard of. Emberley’s pictures are lively and colorful and make the entire book a pleasure to browse.

Summer is a wonderful time to challenge yourself - or even your whole family - to memorize and recite one of the poems from this lovely book. When you are done, as Mary Ann Hoberman points out, the poem will be part of you. Here’s an easy one to start with:

If all the world were paper

If all the world were paper
And all the sea were ink.
And all the trees were bread and cheese,
What should we have to drink?
-Anonymous

Check out Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart for more great poetry to memorize.