Exercising the imagination

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Isn’t it amazing that very few parents read and enjoy rhymes and poems with their children now a days?

But maybe you are different and belong to the minority group that loves to read rhymes and poems with children. In days when memorizing was not banned from  schools, we had to learn and reproduce poems in exams. Naturally we hated the exercise and I don’t think I can remember one single line. Instead I can recite endless rhymes and poems from Abol Tabol or  Shishu simply because we loved reciting them. Ma used to say two lines from a rhyme and we had to continue with two more lines. It was sheer fun because we could also enact the lines! We enjoyed such games and had often turned  long evenings of power-cuts into enjoyable times.

With my daughters I did the same. We also made rhymes on everything under the sun – from eating, bathing, sleeping, walking, dressing…. No wonder they have very good poetical sense and write lovely poems.

Well, rhymes and poems can be wonderful allies of parents and teachers and a right poem can often build bridges. I remember watching a movie where a new teacher in a class of young adults resorted to ‘The Tambourine Man’ that actually touched a chord in these students who came from the have-nots and slum areas of America.

Exploring a poem or rhyme with young children too can be  a delightful experience. Once I stumbled on a book that had 365 poems in it for each day of the year but most of these might not interest the 21st century child. However, most children will enjoy poems by Dr Seus , Shel Silverstein or Bruce Lansky. They are contemporary. But those who are proficient in the language can also try Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti and Edward Lear.  Actually, children should enjoy what they read and the first three names of my list are guaranteed to hook children for life to reading poetry; enjoyment leads to love.

One must not think humorous poems do not have serious thoughts in them. Recently I saw a play based on a book of poems by Dr Seuss named ‘Horton Hears a Who’ by a group called ‘Jhalapala’, directed by Santanil Ganguly. It was a superb adaptation and had messages for saving the world and environment among other things in the play. ( picture above)

I had once done a shadow puppet play with the children in our small library ( will talk of it another day) on one of Edward Lear’s poems – The Jumblies.

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So you see anything is possible.

What poems and rhymes do is nurture the imagination in us and that is what makes all the difference between a human and a robot. Don’t you agree?

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