Book Club: Sanctuaries of Childhood Chapter Five


Today I will be summarizing and discussing the fifth chapter of Shea Darian’s book, Sanctuaries of Childhood: Nurturing a Child’s Spiritual Life. The book is written for parents or caregivers who are looking for inspirational ideas on how to nurture spirituality (non-denominational and all-encompassing) within themselves and their children. I will share a chapter summary every few weeks and would love you to join in with your reflections in the comments section.

Chapter Five: Word Magic – The Sanctuary of Poetry

Entering the Sanctuary of Poetry

  • Words put together “just so” are powerful and can take us to places deep within ourselves and the universe
  • Poetry can reveal clues to the “mysteries of the universe” p. 76
  • Poetry is a form of worship

Nurturing Children in the Sanctuary of Poetry

  • Darian shares a story about how poetry captured the breadth of her grief at times of loss
  • Poetry helps to communicate feelings that otherwise feel stuck
  • Poetry can be illuminating, words carry us to Holy places

Seeking Wisdom in Poetry

  • The natural way to learn language is to hear it, speak it, and move with it.
  • As parents, we could try to commit poems and verses to memory so we can call upon them when we need them or feel so inspired

Growing Poets

  • The first poems of childhood are finger plays, movement games and nursery rhymes
  • Young children will naturally memorize poems through repetition
  • When choosing longer poems choose ones with a storyline such as “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” by Eugene Field
  • In the first nine years use poems that have predictable and steady rhythms and rhymes, which provide children with the repetition and rhythm they love and thrive on
  • Older children can be exposed to a wide range of poetry from classics to modern day “pop pets”

Simple Blessings to Create a Sanctuary of Poetry

  • Plan an occasional Poetry Night where each family member brings a poem to share
  • Use poems and rhymes to help you with everyday transitions
  • Offer poems written by you as gifts to your children, extended family members and friends
  • Offer children their own empty “Poetry Notebook” and set aside time once a week to write in it
  • Learn about the Poets themselves- read biographies together about Langston Hughes, Robert Frost or Emily Dickinson

Personal Renewal: For Adults Only

  • Make time to read poetry for yourself
  • Darian personally loves Walt Whitman
  • Support local Poets if you know of any and can

Our two younger children absolutely love to hear nursery rhymes each night before bed. The repetitive rhythm and words are comforting and the themes are simple and warm. This year we bought Favorite Poems Old and New which is a compilation of gorgeous classical and seasonally inspired poems from around the world. During our school week, I usually choose one poem from this book (or elsewhere) and try to read it once a day to the children. There is no goal in mind- we do not memorize it and rarely discuss it. We simply take the time to read it aloud and absorb the poem in our own personal way. I have not tried writing a poem of my own for many years other than an occasional rhyme in the voice of a fairy. I do like the idea of picking up the pen to write something creatively again. And I love the idea of gifting personal poems to loved ones for special occasions.

How does poetry shape your days together as a family? Do you read poetry together? Do you ever write your own?

DISCLOSURE: This journal entry contains a link to Meagan from Whole Family Rhythms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and Thank you for your support.

“Quotes from Sanctuaries of Childhood by Shea Darian used by permission. Copyright 2011 by Charlene DeShea Bagbey Darian. Revised 2nd Edition.”

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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