Poetic Narration

Poetic Narration

Another great idea from Higher Up and Further In. I love the way Linda Fay writes about homeschooling lesson plans and curricula, she makes them seem so easy and attractive.

File this under cool homeschooling ideas I’d like to implement someday.

Once you have exposed your child to a wide variety of good poetry and they have learned to enjoy it, then they are old enough to begin poetic narrations. For us, that was around 11 or 12 years of age. My children really enjoy these. I simply ask them to write a narration about a specific passage, but it must be written as a poem. When they become comfortable with this, I add another requirement- copy the style of a recent poet they have studied or are currently studying.

For example, my daughter is reading Ivanhoe. Once a week, during this term only, she writes a poetic narration about the chapter she read that week or about just a portion of the chapter. Since she is reading, copying and memorizing Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poetry this term, she is writing poetic narrations in the style of Tennyson, particularly his free verse form from ‘Idylls of the King’. Last term, she learned a little about the alliterative form because she read ‘Beowulf.’ So, I asked her to write a poetic narration similar to Beowulf from Twain’s Joan of Arc- the book she was reading at the time. Next year, when she studies Shakespeare’s sonnets, she will write some poetic narrations from her literature books in sonnet form.

I had aspirations to write poetry when I was younger, but never had any of the self-discipline necessary to master poetic forms. I only wrote when inspiration struck and I never tried to write anything other than free verse.

I wish that I’d had to do this kind of poetic narration, then maybe I might have had a chance to become at least a decent poet.

One thing I really like about the idea of narration in general and poetic narration in particular is the emphasis on retelling another person’s ideas rather than on creativity and coming up with original ideas.

It was a radical realization for me when I read a CM homeschooler who said that she didn’t assign any creative writing. If it happened on its own, it happened. But she argued that being assigned such things can actually put stress on students. And looking back on my own brief experience as a writing tutor, I can see that my students would have done much better if they could have practiced the tasks of composition separately from the need to come up with original ideas. Not having to come up with original form or content can actually be very freeing.

Also see Linda’s post on creative narration.

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  • Good luck with reading it slow!  I am by no means a book worm, but I could not put Brede down.  I was reading it while cooking dinner, staying up way too late, neglecting the children…


  • My willpower with chocolates comes and goes. Sometimes I devour a box in a day. At others I can drag it out as long as a week. Maybe.

    Books I;m not so good on either. So I’m looking forward to the experiment.

    I’m glad to have another thumbs-up on Brede.

  • Melanie, I can make a box of chocolates last a month, but I can’t make a book last that long!  (That is, if I enjoy it).  I read “In This House of Brede” a lot of years ago and thought it was good.

  • I just finished this book, after all the recommendations. And I couldn’t put it down…read it into the night every night. It’s just too good to put down. Good luck trying the CM way!

  • I have to mention also, in light of all the “fast reading, miss the details” folks here. I am one of y’all but don’t mind it because then the rereading is just that much more fun. grin

  • Good point, Julie.

    I do enjoy re-reading books and usually the second time around I pick up on much that I missed in my previous drive-by reading.

    Thanks to my speed reading, don’t catch the details and don’t absorb what I read tendencies, I can even re-read mystery novels because I almost never remember who done it.

    And with books I know really well, that I’ve re-read multiple times, sometimes I just pick them up and flip to a random page in the middle and commence reading there.

  • Just read ‘Brede’ a few months ago – yup, it was one of those books where I couldn’t put it down! A few weeks ago I got ‘Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy’ and that was excellent too.

    Would LOVE to see the ‘Brede’ movie with Diana Rigg, but the prices are out of control when I search amazon.

    And I agree – I read so fast when it’s a book that I love that I know I miss tons. I think it’s because I have no self discipline.

    I just re-read Ken Follett’s ‘Pillars of the Earth’ (busted right through it again!! – couldn’t slow down) which OK, is not religious in nature but it is up there on my top 10 fav books.

    Melanie: thanks so much for posting the great news you got from the doctor and letting us share your joy and relief. THANK YOU GOD!!