What can we learn from Robert Louis Stevenson about joy and play?

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing, 

   Up in the air so blue? 

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing 

   Ever a child can do! 

Up in the air and over the wall, 

   Till I can see so wide, 

Rivers and trees and cattle and all 


   Over the countryside— 

Till I look down on the garden green, 

   Down on the roof so brown— 

Up in the air I go flying again, 

   Up in the air and down!

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Poetry for Young People,  Robert Louis Stevenson is for readers ages eight and up and it is a great introduction to poetry for children because the poems are from the perspective of children.

I love the pure joy the poem’s speaker is sharing in The Swing. We all need fun recreational activities, as seen in this poem, to help us recharge and experience joy and serenity. Robert Louis Stevenson had serious health problems throughout his life, but he didn’t let that stop him from creating beautiful stories and poems that celebrate play and a child’s imagination.

As a young child, I loved to swing and started writing poems. His poetry inspired me and reminded me of the importance of creativity. Today, I think his poems are more important than ever as a window to a world not filled with smart phones and video games. Adults and children still need to enter a world of play separate from technology and his poems can spark conversation and acitivties with children around this subject.

Activities for Parents and Teachers:

Ask children what they like to do for fun.  Then ask them what they like to do for fun that doesn’t involve a phone, computer or any other type of technology.

Ask them to write two sentences or a poem about an activity that they like to do that doesn’t involved technology.

Questions for the Day for Discussion or Journalling:

What are the activities that brought me joy as a child?  

What recreational activities bring me joy today?  Can I do more of them to help me relax and recharge?

Poetry for Young People, Robert Louis Stevenson

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