Poetry is a form of literature that we often forget about, but it’s one of the most adaptable and enjoyable varieties to read with kids. It’s also a form of reading that isn’t too intimidating to young readers — stanzas are less overwhelming that paragraphs. And it inspires young writers in a way that doesn’t have to come with strict rules about punctuation and form.
So it was with great pleasure that I read Swimming to the Moon by Jeff McMahon. He brings silliness and wit to poems about kid-familiar subjects like elevator rides, friendly dares, wearing clothes in funny ways, and playing outside. These are poems that range from whimsical to slapstick goofy, and they are sure to delight a broad range of personalities.
The poems are full of rhyme — kids love rhyme — and are very fun to read aloud. My daughter and I took turns reading to one another, and she quickly would dissolve into giggles. There are over 100 poems in this text, so there are plenty of turns to be had and plenty of silly sessions to spread over many days.
The charming illustrations by Jessica Warrick offer great snapshots of some of the best moments in the poetry. Swimming to the Moon is a bit like Shel Silverstein’s volumes of poetry, and it will offer pleasant re-readability for years to come in much the same ways.
While the sub-title of the book is A Collection of Rhymes Without Reason, I say there is definitely a reason for reading this book — it’s fun! Your kids will broaden their literary horizons and giggle all the way through it. I know my daughter has big plans to lie under a tree and read these poems in the summer sun… and maybe she’ll even be inspired to pick up a pen and write some of her own.
Kate Glinsmann (she/her) was an owner-partner of BabyNames.com, a lifelong educator with a masters degree in Education. For over 30 years, she worked with preschoolers with special needs, kindergartners, and English language learners.
In her spare time, Kate was a stained glass artist, who built her own studio and gave classes to her local community. Kate was a tireless advocate of those in need, particularly children, mothers and refugees. Kate passed away in December of 2019.