John Updike and Children's Poetry

John Updike, the great American writer, died this week. Just to show you how "literary" I am the only work of his I've ever read or even knew about is A Child's Calendar, a collection of Updike's poems illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Hyman is an amazing illustrator in her own right and if you haven't already you must check out, literally if you use the library, books by this Caldecott Medal artist.

Goes to show you the kind of books I read these days.

A Child's Calendar may be "just" a collection of childrens poems but those are my favorite kind. I love poetry. Words that rhyme, or maybe not. Words that capture and celebrate the daily and seasonal rhythms of life. Words that are funny, sometimes hilarious. Words that make shapes* to tell a story, to paint a picture. But sometimes "adult" poetry is just too obtuse for me, too many metaphors I don't understand. And I'm left feeling "huh???" instead of "ahhh....".

All that to say I love this collection of poems. I regularly borrow this book from the library and I'm starting to think I should maybe just buy it.

I'm not sure I'm allowed to do this (does anyone know about posting, with full credits, published works on blogs) but here's this month's poem from A Child's Calendar.

January by John Updike
The days are short, The sun a spark Hung thin between The dark and dark.
Fat snowy footsteps Track the floor, And parkas pile up Near the door.
The river is A frozen place Held still beneath The trees' black lace.
The sky is low. The wind is gray. The radiator Purrs all day

*Not related to John Updike but check out this cool link I found to make your own concrete poems. Be warm and cozy you all. Read good books and make sure you have a healthy dose of poetry. It's good for your soul.

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  • Nicole Gunter

    Nicole Gunter on Jan. 31, 2009, 4:50 a.m.

    Thanks for suggesting a book of poetry that won't leave me feeling "huh?"...pretty tough to teach your kids to love poetry when you feel that way when you read it! I'm glad I'm not the only one!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 31, 2009, 1:25 p.m.


      I totally understand your sentiment. Having discovered poetry I "get" I really love it. The goodreads link below will take you to my recommended poetry reads for children.

      More good poetry reads at:

      take care, Renee


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