Simon James: Days Like This

Illustrated by the author

Published by Candlewick Press, 1999

My first day at school to-day.

Funny sort of day.

Didn’t seem to learn much.

Seemed all we did was play.

Then teacher wrote some letters

On a board all painted black,

And then we had a story…

I don’t think I’ll go back.

By Rod Hull

Simon James has selected and illustrated a collection of small poems to be enjoyed and savoured by young and older readers alike. The poem written above by Rod Hull is my favourite. It reminded me of something my daughter said when she started kindergarten.

My mother-in-law had made her three new and wondrous dresses for the occasion. One dress for each day of the week she would be there. When the first three days were over, my daughter asked what she would be wearing next time she went to kinder. When she discovered there were no more new dresses, my daughter declined very politely to go to kindergarten ever again!

Poetry is a wonderful medium that can be used to introduce young children to the emotive power of words and to help them see the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life.

In this collection, we are sledding down mountains, fishing for guppies, stepping over stones, going on adventures, feeling the summer sun, and wondering about the mystery of a fallen seed and what it might become. Each poem has its own double page spread, giving you time to pause and contemplate the language and the illustration before turning the page and investing your thoughts anew.

Contributions have been made by Charlotte Zolotow, Ogden Nash, Steve Turner and many others. I can highly recommend this picture book for children 3-6 years as a gentle introduction to poetry and below are suggestions for more of my favourite poetry and nursery rhyme books:

Animal Crackers by Jane Dyer

A Classic Treasury of Nursery Songs and Rhymes
Illustrated by Trace Moroney

Playtime Rhymes: A Treasury for Families to Learn & Play Together Illustrated by Marc Brown

Eric Carle’s Animals Animals Compiled by Laura Whipple Illustrated by Eric Carle

My Country by Dorothea Mackellar Illustrated by Andrew McLean

My Very First Mother Goose
Edited by Iona Opie
Illustrated by Rosemary Wells

Chicken Soup With Rice:
A Book of Months
by Maurice Sendak

Thankful by Eileen Spinelli Illustrated by Archie Preston

Honey For You, Honey For Me: A First Book of Nursery Rhymes
by Michael Rosen
Illustrated by Chris Riddell

Shuffle and Squelch: Poems and Rhymes for Children
by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Nick Sharratt

Here’s a Little Poem
Collected by
Jane Yolen & Andrew Fusek Peters
Illustrated by Polly Dunbar

Little Poems for Tiny Ears
Poems by Lin Oliver
Illustrated by Tomie dePaola

Each Peach Pear Plum
by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

The Puffin Book of Nursery Rhymes by Raymond Briggs

Winter Bees and
Other Poems of the Cold
by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Rick Allen

Wynken, Blynken, & Nod
A Poem by Eugene Field
Illustrated by Johanna Westerman

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw
Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Out and About:
A First Book of Poems
by Shirley Hughes

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
by Edward Lear
Illustrated by Ian Beck

Sing me the Summer
by Jane Godwin
Illustrated by Alison Lester

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Mother Goose of Pudding Lane
by Chris Raschka
Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

Clancy of the Overflow
by Banjo Patterson
Illustrated by Andrew McLean

A Child’s Book of Poems Illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa