History of Children's Poetry

Timeline created by brittanystrained
  • Jan 1, 1475

    "The Babees' Book"

    "The Babees' Book"
    When Children's Poetry first emerged, it emerged as a means to instruct children. (Dixon) Poetry books were designed to teach morals and lessons, and "The Babees' Book" created by an unknown author, is a perfect example of such. (Townsend) "The Babees' Book" emphasized writing for instruction, a common characteristic of Children's Poetry at the time. This benefited children as it gave them a creative means to learn. (Townsend)
  • Jan 1, 1563

    "Booke in Englyssh emtre of the great marchaunt man called Dyves Pragmaticus, very pretye for chyldren to rede"

    "Booke in Englyssh emtre of the great marchaunt man called Dyves Pragmaticus, very pretye for chyldren to rede"
    "Booke in Englyssh emtre of the great marchaunt man called Dyves Pragmaticus, very pretye for chyldren to rede" by Thomas Newberry saw a change in the theme's of children's poetry thus far. (Townsend) Within his book, Newberry instructed social behaviour, as well as knowledge of wares and goods - while thus far poetry was used as a means of memorization and instruction. This was beneficial to children. (Dixon) Newberry addressed new instruction for children.
  • "Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, Chiefly for the for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England, but may be of like Use for any Children"

    "Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, Chiefly for the for the Spirituall Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England, but may be of like Use for any Children"
    "Milk for Babes, Drawn out of the Breasts of Both Testaments, Chiefly for the Spiritual Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England, but may be of like Use for any Children" by John Cotton was a book that was greatly influenced by the time's themes in children's literature. (Sutherland) Puritan Theology was highly emphasized at the time, and Cotton's books emphasized these ideas. This was beneficical to children as it taught them the lord's message in a fun and creative way. (Dixon)
  • "The New England Primer"

    "The New England Primer"
    "The New England Primer" written by Benjamin Harris, became some of the most read material in Colonial America at the time. (Townsend) This book birthed the famous quote: "In Adams fall/We Sinned All." It was still a book filled with Puritan Theology, however its immense popularity made it an important book in Children's Poetry. (Dixon)
  • "The Tales of Mother Goose"

    "The Tales of Mother Goose"
    "The Tales of Mother Goose" was first written by French author, Charles Baroque (although his tales have since been re-written many times). (Arbuthnot) The stories were told in prose, and used rhymes to convey their morals, dawning a new era in which instruction and values weren't plainly stated, but hidden within the poetry. (Dixon) This benefited children as poetry was beginning to be geared towards them more and more, concentrating on how to effortlessly teach children.
  • "Divine and Moral Songs for Children"

    "Divine and Moral Songs for Children"
    "Divine and Moral Songs for Children" by Dr. Isaac Watts was a tremendously popular book of poetry at its time. (Dixon) The book celebrated instructional values within poetry, however, Watts used rhymes and meter more successfully than authors that came before him. (Dixon) His popularity as an author is often credited to his "limpid simplicity and memorability of the verses" rather than didactic value. (Sutton) There was a profound softening of the Puritan outlook.
  • "The Tales of Mother Goose" (revisited)

    "The Tales of Mother Goose" (revisited)
    "The Tales of Mother Goose" was revisited by author, Charles Parrault. (Dixon) This helped to popularize Baroque's original stories, however it did not use the same rhymes. Still, it was a highly popular book at the time - and was most significant to children for nearly 75 years. (Dixon)
  • "A Pretty Little Pocket-Book"

    "A Pretty Little Pocket-Book"
    "A Pretty Little Pocket-Book" by Thomas Newberry was a book that was revolutionary for its time. It included rhyming games, morals, alphabets, and poems emphasizing not only instruction, but amusement and diversion. (Dixon) Newberry's contribution to children's literature was part of a larger movement toward the expansion of social, intellectual, and literary ideas. This benefited children as learning was now becoming a thing of enjoyment.
  • "Songs of Innocence"

    "Songs of Innocence"
    "Songs of Innocence" by William Blake was another book of grand importance to the developement of children's poetry. (Dixon) Blake's lyrical verses, with their musical cadences and emotional resonance, heralded the movement toward romantic poetry. These poetic devices pushed boundaries in children's poetry that had not been met before. This benefited children as it opened them up to new romantic language, expanding their minds. (Dixon)
  • "Original Poems for Infant Minds"

    "Original Poems for Infant Minds"
    "Original Poems, for Infant Minds" was written by a sister-author combo: Anna and Jane Taylor. (Dixon) Their book contained one of the most beloved poems of the century, "My Mother", however its most noted and remembered peom is "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star". Their book was translated into several different languages. (Dixon) They followed Watts' tradition of moral instruction, but with a livelier bend towards storytelling. (Arbuthnot)
  • "The Butterfly's Ball"

    "The Butterfly's Ball"
    "The Butterfly's Ball" by William Roscoe saw another change for children's poetry. Roscoe's book was the first of what we consider to be children's books today. Meaning, it fully integrated pictures with poetry. (Dixon) It was a book that was created purely for enjoyment, making it significant due to its lack of instruction. Roscoe's book was a turning point for not only children's poetry, but children's literature as well. (Dixon) It was immensely popular, and had many imitators.
  • "A Visit from St. Nicholas"

    "A Visit from St. Nicholas"
    "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore, (better known as "T'was the Night Before Christmas") published in the United States, and was an even more popular read than "The Butterfly's Ball." The book was humourous and fast moving, devoid of moral or lesson. It was a large contributor to the Santa Claus myth and is a book that is still widely read, and appreciated today. (Dixon)
  • "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"

    "The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
    "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning was another book of humour (much like "A Visit from St. Nicholas"), however it also introduced new emerging themes. A clear thematic moral, combined with elements of fantasy. This would be a trend that greatly influenced children's poetry for years to come. (Dixon)
  • "Book of Nonsense"

    "Book of Nonsense"
    Edward Lear's, "Book of Nonsense" marked the beginning of a new stage in Children's Poetry. (Dixon) Lear wrote poems of pure nonsense, no logical plot nor instructional values evident within his writing. (Dixon)
  • "Through the Looking Glass"

    "Through the Looking Glass"
    "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll is lesser known than Carroll's wildly popular "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", however it contained more original rhyme than the latter. Carroll made great use of verse parodies within his books, essentially creating a new genre alongside Lear. (Dixon) Together, Carroll and Lear created the "nonsense verse" of the 9th century, regarded as the beginning of modern children's poetry. (Vasilakis)
  • "Lullaby Land"

    "Lullaby Land"
    "Lullaby Land" was a collection of poems published by Eugene Field. It was greatly popular during its time, however the only still widely known poem from this collection is, "Wynken, Blynken and Nod." (Dixon) Field made great use of colloquialism within his collection, as well as folk dialect and rhythmic verses. (Dixon) This non-acceptance of the English language was beginning to gain popularity, often used for literary fun. (Dixon)
  • "Johnny Crow's Garden"

    "Johnny Crow's Garden"
    "Johnny Crow's Garden" by Leslie Brooke was a book essential to developing the modern day children's poetry's format. (Dixon) Brooke pioneered the single poem picture book format, that is often used today, both in children's poetry, and children's novels alike. (Dixon)
  • "Tirra Lirra"

    "Tirra Lirra"
    "Tirra Lirra" was a poetry book written by immensely popular Laura Richards. (Dixon) Richards often wrote poetry for children's magazine "St. Nicholas" and had quite the following. (Dixon) Richard's stories were humorous, told in a lyrical verse, that was chalk-full of word play, surprises, and nonsense - common themes of the genre at the time. (Dixon)
  • "And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street"

    "And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street"
    "And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street" would be the first of many books published by Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known by his pen-name Dr. Seuss. (Dixon) Many of Seuss' works favour story over poetry, however they carry on the traditions of both creative nonsense, and using verse to tell stories to children. (Dixon) His books signified a return to stories with morals, however his imaginative themes allowed him to do so without preaching. (Hurst)
  • "I Met a Man"

    "I Met a Man"
    "I Met a Man" by John Ciardi was a book geared greatly towards beginner readers. Ciardi took influence from Seuss' methods. (Dixon) Together Seuss and Ciardi combined humour, nonsense, fantasy, and delibrately controlled vocabulary for the purpose of reading. They conveyed moral and instruction in their novels, without preaching - an important emerging theme for children's poetry. (Dixon)
  • "Poems to Solve"

    "Poems to Solve"
    "Poems to Solve" by May Swenson expanded the boundaries of children's poetry. Swenson's book featured free-form verses that formed riddles, puzzles, and patterns. (Dixon) This allowed a greater level of involvement for children with poetry. (Dixon)
  • "The Inner City Mother Goose"

    "The Inner City Mother Goose"
    "The Inner City Mother Goose" by Eve Muriam, caused a great controversy upon its publication. (Dixon) It caused controversy as it was the first to address the social issues that inner city children faced. (Silvey) This caused some to call for its ban, however it was highly influential to how poetry formed for the next few decades. Social issues became a commom element for poets from then on. (Dixon)
  • "Where the Sidewalk Ends"

    "Where the Sidewalk Ends"
    "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein was a highly influential book for children's poetry. Silverstein and his books were credited with being responsible for "a new revolution of light verse". (Hopkins) It was often said his work brought forth a revival in the interest in poetry. (Vasilakis) Within his books, Silverstein carried on the humour and imagination of the nonsense tradition created by many authors before him. (Dixon)
  • "Alligator Pie"

    "Alligator Pie"
    "Alligator Pie" by Dennis Lee was one of the most popular, and best-selling children's novels of its time. Still widely circulated in school curriculum to this day, it is still read by many. Dennis Lee is also a wildly popular Canadian author. (Poets)
  • "Make Lemonade"

    "Make Lemonade"
    "Make Lemonade" by Virgina Euwer Wolff was one of the first books of the 90's that began to blur the distinction between poetry and prose. Wolff is often considered one of the main pioneers of the form. (Dixon)
  • "Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution"

    "Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution"
    "Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution" by Alix Olson is a book that discusses a new movement in poetry that the 21st Century saw. (Dixon) Youth readers became increasingly interested in writing poetry of their own, and soon many children and teenagers alike were writing their own free-verse, rhymes, and in fact slam poetry. (Dixon) The 21st Century saw a great movement in new forms - slam poetry one of the most influential. (Dixon)