Caroline Kennedy and her brother John grew up in a culture of words and reading. Their mother was particularly fond of poetry dating back to experiences as a child with her Grandfather. On gift-giving holidays, she requested that her children select and recite a poem rather than purchase a gift, which helped them develop a sense of language and rhyme.
Kennedy’s love of poetry has resulted in a number of anthologies. The latest one is Poems to Learn by Heart. To help select the 100 poems in the book, Kennedy drew on her own experience and then asked her kids, her friends’ kids and participants in an after-school poetry program. And to counter the complaint that poetry is only for girls, the book has a healthy dose of sports related poetry.
Kennedy is keen on memorizing or as the book title indicates, learning “by heart.” “I found that poems you learn by heart, even if you don’t learn the whole thing, there is a line or two that will stick with you,” she said. “And the good thing about learning them by heart is that you become really familiar and you have a chance to kind of try to get inside the poet’s mind and have a conversation with the poet or with yourself and I think that that’s kind of what we all are looking for –is connection with others.”
Another of Kennedy’s passions is child and youth literacy. She thinks it is essential that the urban learning experience be improved. Adults need to create a community of high standards and children will rise to them, but those starting behind need help to catch up. She believes good early childhood education is key.
Caroline Kennedy was Don Marsh’s guest on St. Louis on the Air to discuss her new book, the positives of learning poetry and improving youth literacy.
The conversation began with a question about the reports that Kennedy will be selected to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Japan. She responded, “I don’t know if that will happen, but it would be a great honor and very exciting. There are lots of ways to serve, so if that’s not one of them, I’ll find something else to do.” But she pointed out that so far, there hasn’t been an offer, but did comment on the challenge of being an ambassador in that part of the world. “There is so much happening over there and I know there’s always a lot in the news about Korea right now, but Japan is a very important ally of ours and has been for so long. So, there’s a lot to do and think about for America.”
Kennedy will appear at the St. Louis County Library Foundation’s Family Read Night on April 3 at 7:00 p.m.
St. Louis County Library Foundation's Family Read Night Presents Caroline Kennedy
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
St. Louis County Library Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis County Library Website