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Enjoy the Poems of Emily Dickinson Review by Michelle Gibson

Compiled by Ruth Smith with additional material by Sonya Shafer
Simply Charlotte Mason
930 New Hope Rd #11-892
Lawrenceville, GA 30045

Enjoy the Poems of Emily Dickinson is a Charlotte Mason inspired collection of 26 delightful poems along with a portrait and biography of Emily Dickinson and pages for poem illustrations. It is a 41 page printed book written for grades 1-12, designed to take you through the entire school year. You will linger with one poet for an entire year, reading new poems, reading the poet’s biography and narrating it, and entering the poet in your Book of Centuries, as well as illustrating, memorizing, and reciting one poem per each 12-week term.


This book will walk you through the Charlotte Mason method of enjoying poems. These poems, according to the book, are meant to be read aloud to your children and enjoyed at least once per week. You and your child will become quite familiar with Emily Dickinson over the course of the year. But, the poems are complete poems designed to cultivate a sense of observation and vivid imagination in the child. Your child will be encouraged to read the poems aloud, act them out, draw them, copy them, memorize and recite them, and above all treasure them by copying favorite passages into journals to cherish.


Emily Dickinson’s lovely story will endear her to you and open your heart to her handwritten poems that she wrote for her own enjoyment. Because of which, you will find that many are untitled. I appreciated this little peek into her quaint and solitary life. We followed the suggested schedule to read a new poem the first two weeks and then read and narrate the poet’s biography, but we also read the first two poems again. Reading them a second time after reading Ms. Dickinson’s biography made the first poem more meaningful.


For example, Emily Dickinson lived a quaint, quiet life preferring to live in solitude - she didn’t like to keep company around for long. So, when I read her first untitled poem after knowing this about her, the poem came to life, and I suddenly understood the meaning within the words:


I’m nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there’s a pair of us - don’t tell!

They’d banish us, you know.


How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog.

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!


I, too, am an introvert, and I agree that it would be dreary to have to introduce myself to people all the livelong day. So much social interaction is wearisome, so I’m happy to be a nobody like she preferred to be. He poems were gathered and published long after she wrote them, as she would have wanted it.


The poems are a delight and the heart of this book, but the material compiled by Sonya Shafer offers you little tips to enjoy each poem. She includes tips on how to read poetry smoothly, vocabulary definitions for words that may be unfamiliar, historical information that may give the poem context, and poetry notes that range from how to improve pronunciation and how to set an imaginary stage to poetry tips and quotes from Charlotte Mason. I appreciated having all the little poetry notes. They are little hints and tips to help you read aloud and understand each poem.


The pages for poem illustrations are blank pages in the back of the book for your child to illustrate their chosen poems. But each poem has plenty of room for your child to illustrate, if desired.


I am enjoying these poems with my three younger children ages 6, 10, and 12 during our read aloud time. The hardest part is following the suggested schedule because the poems are fun to read. It will be hard to just read one poem a week, but I love the idea of spreading them out over the school year to let them sink in and give you time to become familiar with her poetry.


Enjoy the Poems of Emily Dickinson is just one of the seven "Enjoy the Poems" series of famous poets by Sonya Shafer and Ruth Smith. Each printed book is $10.95, and you may make printed copies for use in your home. Ebooks are also available as a PDF download for $7.95. Other poets in the series include Alfred Lord Tennyson, Carl Sandburg, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

-Product review by Michelle Gibson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2017