Poetry and Childhood

November 2010
More details
  • Publisher
    Trentham Books
  • Published
    1st November 2010
  • ISBN 9781858564722
  • Language English
  • Pages 270 pp.
  • Size 6.875" x 9.75"
  • Request Exam Copy

Poetry and Childhood is the first academic book to give serious critical attention to the poetry of childhood. This international volume brings together poets including Philip Gross, Andrew Motion and Michael Rosen – the latter both former Laureates – and distinguished critics such as Teresa Cremin, Peter Hunt, Lissa Paul, David Rudd, Chip Sullivan, Laura Tosi, and Victor Watson. All have something new to say about poetry and childhood.

Based on a prestigious conference organized by Morag Styles for the British Library and the Cambridge Faculty of Education in 2009, it is edited by a team of poetry scholars from the University of Cambridge. The book opens with the fundamental question, what is children’s poetry? It considers key poets of childhood from the past, including John Bunyan, Robert Louis Stevenson, A.A. Milne, Ted Hughes and Charles Causley, and the poetry for children by present Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Chapters consider some of the major traditions and forms of poetry, take a new look at comic verse, develop fresh perspectives on nature as a central theme, and celebrate the importance of poetry as an oral medium. The voices of children, poets, parents and teachers responding to poetry are featured throughout in a jargon-free volume which, although aimed primarily at scholars and teachers of children’s literature, is accessible to anyone interested in poetry or children.

"This collection of essays asks important questions about the nature of poetry for children, and provides a host of illuminating answers. It aalso confirms the strength and variety of recent writers in the field, paying proper respect to their originality, as well as to the ways they extend a distinguished and fascinating tradition."

Andrew Motion

"With the calibre of contributors and the range of topics covered, this volume looks set to be the definative work on poetry and childhood for the foreseeable future."

Roger Walshe, Head of Learning - , The British Library

Introduction: Taking the Long View - the State of Children's Poetry Today - Morag Styles


1) Theory, Texts and contexts: A Reading and Writing Memoir - Michael Rosen
2) Confronting the Snark: The Non-Theory of Children's Poetry - Peter Hunt
3) What Is Children's Poetry? Children's Views of Children's Poetry - Stephen Miles
4) Ted Hughes and the 'Old Age of Childhood' - Lissa Paul


5) 'Childish Toys' for Boys with Beards: John Bunyan's A Book for Boys and Girls - Pat Pinsent
6) 'Those first affections': Wordswoth and Mournful Adolescence - Louise Joy
7) 'The Land of Play': Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses - Shaun Holland
8) A.A Milne's Poetic World of Childhood in When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six - Jean Webb
9) 'The Penny Fiddle' and Poetic Truth - Michael Joseph
10) 'A child, barefoot: alone': Innocence in Charles Causley's Poetry - Debbie Pullinger
11) 'Not Not Nursery Rhymes' and 'Not Not Lullabies': How Carol Ann Duffy and Pórarinn Eldjarn Refurnish the Nursery - Olga Holownia


12) Humpty Dumpty and the Sense on an Unending - David Rudd
13) 'If it rhymes, it's funny': Theories of humour in Children's Poetry - Karen Coats
14) Children's Oral Poetry: Identity and Obscenity - C.W. Sullivan III
15) Poetry in Children's Annuals - Victor Watson
16) Wicked Thoughts: Fairy-tale Poetry for Children and Adults - Laura Tosi


17) Anthropomorphism Dressed and Undressed in Beatrix Potter's Rhymes and Riddles - Lorraine Kerslake
18) Once upon a time in the realms of Eden: Children's Poetry in Brazil - Telma Franco Diniz
19) Animal Poems and Children's Rights in America, 1820-1890 - Angela Sorby
20) 'Imaginary gardens with real toads in them': Animals in Children's Poetry - David Whitley


21) Poets in the Making: Ted Hughes, Poetry and Children - Peter Cook
22) Articulating the Auditory Imagination: When Children Talk About Poetry They Hear - John Gordon
23) The Affordances of Orality for young People's Experience of Poetry - Joy Alexander
24) Exploring Poetry Teachers: Teachers Who Read and Readers Who Teach Poetry - Teresa Cremin


25) Playing with words: Two children's Encounters with Poetry from Birth - Virginia Lowe
26) Writing Alongside at the Poetry and Childhood Conference - Philip Gross

Morag Styles

Morag Styles is Reader in Children’s Literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

Louise Joy

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David Whitley

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