Posted in My Favourite Poetry Books

Charles Ghigna: My Favourite Poetry Books

In 1999, I stayed in Canada for a couple of months, and there, in a children’s book shop, the door to the world of Canadian and American poets was opened for me. Charles Ghigna was one of the poets I discovered, and now I have come to know many Canadian and American poets, who are of course just as delightful and talented as the British variety. I’m so pleased to be able to host Charles (or Father Goose® as he is often known) on Poetry Roundabout this week. He lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and is the author of more than one hundred books and more than five thousand poems for children and adults. I am reading his wonderful new book, Dear Poet at the minute. A review is in the offing! 

Thank you so much for inviting me to choose my favourite children’s poetry books! Here are my choices with a couple of lines of explanation.

THE 20TH CENTURY CHILDREN’S POETRY TREASURY selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, published by Knopf. Who could resist this perennial classic? I’ve been recommending this one to teachers, librarians and parents during my school visits and conference talks since it first appeared twenty years ago. It contains more than 200 poems by more than 100 of the leading poets writing for children in the twentieth century. This is one of the first anthologies illustrated by Meilo So. Her dreamy watercolours set the perfect background to this memorable, must-have collection.

KNOCK AT A STAR: A CHILD’S INTRODUCTION TO POETRY edited by X.J. Kennedy and Dorothy Kennedy, illustrated by Karen Lee Baker, published by Little, Brown. Another perennial classic. With poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and many others, the Kennedys filled this two hundred page volume with a wide variety of well-chosen favourite poems. Their clever introductions to each verse form creates the perfect introduction to poetry for eager young readers. Teachers and parents love it too!

WORLD MAKE WAY: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published by Abrams. I’m a big fan of all the poetry anthologies compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins. This is one my favourites. Ekphrasis poems at their finest. Seeing poets interpret the artworks of Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer, Fernando Botero and others inspires us all to visit museums with pen and paper in hand.

THE PROPER WAY TO MEET A HEDGEHOG edited by Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick. This is one of my new favourite poetry anthologies for children. Not only is this an irresistible book of irresistible poems, it is a book of some of my favourite poet friends! This book stands as a stunning tribute to Paul Janeczko who died just before the book was published.

THE POETRY OF US edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. More than 200 poems take us on a journey to explore and celebrate the people and places of the United States. Gorgeous photos showcase the poems that reveal the rich diversity of cultures that make up the American dream.

THE BOOK OF ANIMAL POETRY edited by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. If you are looking for a captivating book of poems about animals for kids, this is it! Put this book out on a table and watch children gather around to marvel over the photos and to read aloud the wit and wisdom of poets who bring this menagerie alive.

THE BOOK OF NATURE POETRY editor by J. Patrick Lewis, published by National Geographic. Another PW starred review anthology of poems by J. Patrick Lewis. Listen to kids oooh and ahhh over the photos as they read through the more than 200 poems that pay homage to Nature in all her glory.
DEAR POET: NOTES TO A YOUNG WRITER by Charles Ghigna, published by Resource Publications.
Posted in Poet's Piece

Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer, by Charles Ghigna


I first came across Charles Ghigna’s poems in anthologies. Later I found books written by him for younger children in second hand shops here in the UK, which I bought because they were charming and had nature and animal themes, for which he is best known; but he is also known for poems celebrating childhood, the power of a positive attitude, and writes on many other subjects besides!

A much-loved American author, known sometimes by the nickname Father Goose®,  he lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama!

He’s the author of more than 100 books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers, and has written more than 5000 poems for children and adults in newspapers and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket magazines.

Serving as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Service, he speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas. He has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, the American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America. 

Here is one of his wonderful poems:

Be Still in the World
Be still in the world wherever you are,
listen to life’s lullaby;
the heartbeat, the breathing, 
the giving, receiving,
the sun and the moon and the star.
They all shine true through the essence of you,
a beacon of boundless light;
the father, the mother, 
the sister, the brother,
all are within you tonight.
Let the flow of the seas, the lilt of the breeze,
the rush and the calm of all time
carry your dreams 
along rivers and streams
and let you be still where you are.
© Charles Ghigna
To find out more about Charles Ghigna, here is a link to his website:

Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer, by Charles Ghigna

A poetic journey through the creative process for readers, writers, artists & dreamers.

As I enter my seventh decade on this planet, I wonder what words of wisdom I might have written to the younger me. What treasured tidbits have I learned along the way? What could I leave in a letter to young wide-eyed artists and poets searching the world for advice, guidance, and inspiration.

I began as I always do, by closing my eyes and listening to that soft voice that has spoken without fail for more than a half century. The voice spoke. I took notes. Here they are. Little poetic pieces I trust will speak to future generations of poets and artists, young and old. May they continue to listen. May they continue to speak.


Do not tell

the world

your pain.

Show it

the joy

of your tears.


Hang a picture

of truth

in your heart.

Let the mirror

of your eyes

fill the page.


A simple


is light.

A complex


is fire.


When in need

of the poem,

go write it.

But do not think

you are


There is no


for the poet.

There is only


for the poem.


Do not write

another word–

unless you have to.


No matter

how many poems

you write

to keep

yourself alive,

you cannot.




Spit at the dark.

Curse the moon.

Throw rocks

at the stars.

Get it all out.

Get it all out.

Get it all out on paper.


Style is not

how you


It is how

you do not







your instincts

to write.


your reasons

not to.



like lightning,


from the




Look in the mirror.

If you see a stranger,

write a poem.

If you see

your father,

write a poem.

If you see


put down the pen.


A silent rhyme

upon the page

is what the poet gives,

gentle words

whispered in trust

to see if memory lives.


The path

to inspiration starts

upon a trail unknown.

Each writer’s block

is not a rock.

It is a stepping stone.


Poems are not penned

to the page

waiting for us to admire.

They are only

lonely thoughts

caught by tears on fire.


Don’t plant

your poem

on the page

as thought

you’re hanging


Its shape

and flow

should come

and grow

like wild

summer grapes.


A poet’s life

is paradox,

it’s more than what it seems.

We write

of our reality,

the one inside our dreams.


A poem

is the echo of a promise,

the thunder of a sigh,

the music

of a memory,

a child asking why.


A poem

is a rising moon

shining on the sea,

an afterglow

of all you know,

of all your dreams set free.


A poem

is a spider web

spun with words of wonder,

woven lace

held in place

by whispers made of thunder.


A poem

is a firefly

upon the summer wind.

Instead of shining

where she goes,

she lights up where she’s been.


It’s not the poem

on the page

that makes them laugh or cry,

it’s how your soul

touched a heart

and opened up an eye.


A poem

is a play

meant to delight you.

A poem

is a party

meant to excite you.

A poem

is a song

full of desire.

A poem

is a sunset

meant to inspire.

A poem

is a secret

shared among friends.

A poem

is a promise

that never ends.


A poem

is a whisper, a shout,

thoughts turned inside out.

A poem

is a laugh, a sigh,

an echo passing by.

A poem

is a rhythm, a rhyme,

a moment caught in time.

A poem

is a moon, a star,

a glimpse of who you are.


The answer

to the poet

comes quicker than a blink,

though the spark

of inspiration

is not what you might think.

The muse

is full of magic,

though her vision may be dim,

the poet

does not choose his muse,

it is the muse that chooses him.


© Charles Ghigna


First published on Cricket, Jan.2017