Given the particularly loud voices that kids are hearing in the world lately, it occurred to me that maybe GG Sprinkles could do an episode on one’s voice, especially the voice of children. I imagine that sometimes little ones think they have no voice at all in the world, that people might not take them and their voices seriously. So I decided to tackle this one today. I thought about the ways we use our voices and that became the poem “The Power of My Voice.” Then I asked my daughter Katie if she thought the three kids–Samantha, Everett, and Malcolm–would be interested in letting her video them talking about how they can use their voice. I asked my daughter Ashley if she thought Charlie would like to participate as well. Sam begged off, but the three boys were in. And they made some very good points. They pointed out that little ones can use their voices to stand up to bullies, compliment someone to make their day, say “no!” when they’re threatened, and others. I knew that what kids would say would probably carry more weight than anything I could say.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, my favorite book of all time, there’s an intense moment when local townsmen are storming the jail to get to a wrongly accused black man in an effort to lynch him. Atticus is there alone and forced into a standoff with the men, who are demanding he move so they can do what they came to do. Scout runs into the middle of the men and, in her innocence, defuses the situation by identifying individuals in the mob and shaming them back into human beings. I have always been impressed by that image of a child’s voice being the strength that saved lives that night. It’s a very visual depiction of a little child leading them. And, of course, the power one small voice can wield.
My intention going into the GG Sprinkles project was to be as uplifting and fun as possible. No politics. No virus references except to point out things that kids could do a bit differently or were in fact doing differently because of the virus. So my intention with this episode was not to either praise or condemn anything currently going on in the real world. Do I have firm opinions on what’s going on currently in our country and the world? Definitely, but that’s not the mission or purpose of GG Sprinkles. I simply wanted to reinforce the idea that the adults aren’t the only ones with voices, be they loud or soft, that are valuable, no matter the topic or situation. Kids need to know that they have a right to be heard in a variety of situations and be taken seriously. Hopefully, we achieved this today. And a huge thank you to my three boys for helping to make the point.
I’m a huge believer in two things: the wisdom and potential of our children and the importance of poetry and imagination in their lives and development. My teaching background is at the high school level, but my methods in the classroom ran high in interaction and whimsy, at least as much whimsy as preparation for state testing allowed. I have four young grandchildren, and I nannied a little boy for over four years from infancy, so I like to think I know children pretty well. And I used poetry to teach and inspire no matter what ages I was called to teach. Poetry takes very big ideas and boils them down to nuggets of wisdom more easily understood. And then there’s the rhyme, such a valuable asset to pre-reading and a great hook to pull the little ones into the poetry itself. The rhythm, cadence, and yes, the rhyme, all have value for kids. Even if the full meaning of the words eludes them a little, there is value in what they do process.
I have written and published two books of essays and poetry for teachers, but my greater joy came in writing poetry for children. I began a book of children’s poetry the day my first grandchild Samantha was born and fourteen years later I continue to add to it. I entitled it A Duck in the Sky, which comes from a discussion we had with Sam when she was just a toddler. We were talking about the meaning of life and Sam assured us that the meaning of life was, in fact, a duck in the sky. Fair enough, and a very good title. I never published my children’s book, although that will happen. But in the meantime came Covid and quarantine. I wanted to contribute something, to help entertain young children stuck at home, even if for only a few minutes at a time. So GG Sprinkles was born, someone who reads poetry and entertains with props, demonstrations, etc. Our videos began on a GG Sprinkles Facebook page, and shortly after that became a GG Sprinkles YouTube channel.
So we now have quite a few videos available and I continue to write poetry. I have learned a great deal about a lot of topics: fairies, zebras, angels, octopuses, birds, superheroes, blanket forts, dragons, space, buried treasure, planets, burping, puppets, trains, unicorns, kites, magic wands, and so much more. It has been a pure joy to do this for the kids. And, of course, I’m learning so much along the way. We intend to keep the videos coming as long as the poetry comes and the kids and parents are interested. We’d be delighted to have you come along with us as we explore new topics poetically and just have some fun. GG Sprinkles welcomes you to any of the videos you’d like to watch and further thoughts here on my blog. Enjoy!
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