I don’t quite remember how I stumbled on the Poetry Teatime concept. I’m guessing it began with reading one of Sally Clarkson’s books, then following her and a few of her writer friends on Instagram, and the rest is history.
However it happened, it has become a loved and established (albeit somewhat inconsistent) routine in our home.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept but are interested in learning more, visit the Poetry Teatime’s beautiful site where you can learn all about it and find ideas for fun and creative teatimes.
In our house, we tend to keep teatimes very simple: a tablecloth or pretty placemats, a few candles or other simple centerpiece, my children’s favorite mugs or teacups, something to drink in the cups, and a little snack to go along with it.
And of course, poetry.
It is very low-key, decidedly un-picturesque, and I save the extra-special, seasonally themed teatimes for specific occasions or holidays. I love a fun and decorative table, but I also know if I tried to make it a picture-perfect work of art every time, it would cease to be enjoyable for all of us.
We have four favorite books that we always pull out. Only one is a book of poetry. We also use this time to read about manners, and if we have time, we will pick a story to read. I have several more poetry books in my wish list for later on, but for now, these books are more than sufficient for our once a week (or once every couple of weeks) teatime.
The first one is Poetry Teatime Companion: A Brave Writer Sampler of British and American Poems, by Julie Bogart and Nancy Graham, an absolutely gorgeous compilation of classic poetry and beautiful watercolor art.
I shared all about this one over on my Instagram stories, so if you’re interested in a more detailed description of it, head over there and look for the “Poetry TeaTime” button on my highlight reel.
Our next favorite, and one my boys frequently pick up in their free time, is The Children’s Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett.
The last two books we’re enjoying learning from together are A Little Book of Manners: Courtesy & Kindness for Young Ladies, and A Little Book of Manners for Boys: A Game Plan for Getting Along With Others by Michal Sparks and Emilie Barnes.
Let me know if you’d like to see some thoughts on these as well! We’ve been enjoying them a few paragraphs at a time. Occasionally, one of my kids will pick one up on their own and read through it. They are fun, short, little books written from a child’s perspective on how good manners can help us to to love others by treating them better than ourselves.
Neither poetry nor “teatime” have ever been high on my priority list of things I envisioned sharing with my children. I enjoyed children’s poetry in grade school, but it definitely wasn’t something I really thought about or wanted to study.
And let’s be real, three of my four children are boys, and though I do enjoy a good cup of chai or vanilla tea occasionally, I’m a coffee girl.
So, why Poetry Teatime?
The only explanation I can give is that when I first read about this sweet, simple ritual in which a family comes together for a few special minutes of refreshment and thoughtful reading, I knew it was something we had to try.
And I’m so glad we did, because all of my children–yes, even the boys–really do love it.
I guess you could say it’s one of those things that encourages you way back in that deep, fearful place of every mama’s heart. You know that sad, scary place we go to sometimes, where we suddenly feel afraid that our children are going to be grown up and gone in an instant and we will have completely missed it?
Poetry Teatime pulls me out of that scary place with the warm reassurance that only a cup of herbal tea and the words of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod can give.
It says, “Hey, they are growing fast. So fast. And yes, one day they will be gone. But you’ll all remember these times, and those memories will remind you that no, you didn’t completely miss it. You were right there at the table with them, sipping tea out of chipped mugs and drinking it all in.”