The first time I suggested poetry teatime Tuesday to my kids, ages 5 and 7, I was pretty sure I’d get the usual ‘knee-jerk no’ response. But, the allure of treats was enough to pull them in at least for a short get together. Even though I felt like they suffered the poetry just to get a cookie, they were excited to repeat the experience the next week. Now they love the whole process. My 5 year old son likes to choose the tablecloth, put it on, and carefully fold the napkins. If he’s feeling extra fancy, he will put on Beethoven in the background. My 7 year old daughter always makes the centerpiece, and sometimes even the snacks. They enjoy the ritual so much, if we miss it, we’ll just have poetry teatime Tuesday on Wednesday.
Our reading material isn’t strictly poetry. While I do include at least some poetry each week, often the kids bring other books to the table as well. I’ll keep on reading anything they want until the interest level starts to wane. Occasionally, I will ask them to listen to a poem that I love but they are not so interested in. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes not.
My favorite teatime was during a big snowstorm. Everything was kind of gray and moody. We had candlelight and deep ruby pomegranate seeds, and I miraculously got them interested in reading Poe’s ‘The Raven.’ They were shocked that a poem could be so dark and disturbing and they were hooked. Afterword, we ended up on YouTube and found a few different readings by Vincent Price and James Earl Jones and a great segment from The Simpsons where the raven’s “Nevermore” is spoken in a hysterical polly-wanna-cracker voice. We still use that silly ‘Nevermore’ as a random inside joke.
Poetry teatime is such a special time for our family. I wish we could make each of our ‘schooling’ experiences as delightful.
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