Having a poetry tea party is our all-time favourite way to enjoy our tea in the afternoon. We bake together, set the table prettily and make some space for ourselves. We choose favourite poems to share, and we read poetry to each other while enjoying our tea and afternoon snack.
It's a truly wonderful way to inspire your children to enjoy poetry - or to share poetry that might otherwise remain unshared. In our modern world, we don't often take the time to read to one another, to share our thoughts in a quiet and genteel way.
A poetry tea party is a time to stop the rush of daily life and take time with friends or family to share tea, cakes and to read poetry or discuss books out loud with one another. Over time, friends and family begin to connect poetry or other literary discussions with a time of contemplation, rest and joy.
I homeschool my children, and I got the idea of doing poetry teas from an amazing curriculum I bought called Writer's Jungle written by Julie Bogart. You can read more about poetry teas and Writer's Jungle at Bravewriter.com.Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by TS Elliott.
Start by deciding who is going to join in with your poetry tea. I like to keep poetry tea parties fairly small and intimate so that people don't feel intimidated about reading aloud.
Just incidentally, I never make my children read out loud if they don't want to. I will read their choice of poem out loud for them if they prefer to just listen. This keeps it fun, which is my main aim.
People need to choose a poem or part of a book to read or to share. For the first time, this can be a little intimidating. If this is the case, you can choose a few poems yourself from a selection of different genres.
If you're not used to reading poetry, choose something fun and easily accessible. I highly recommend the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, which I have discussed further below.
If you are currently reading a book out loud, you can choose to bring that to the table too.
We have a deck at the front of our house, and during the summer, we put a
carpet out there and screen ourselves off from the world with cloths or
with a folding screen. It's lovely and cool until the late
afternoon when the sun comes round, and we spend most of our early day
out there, studying and playing.
Before we decorate it, it's really quite bleak and it just shows what you can do with a few cushions and some sarongs! It doesn't take much to put up and take down for so much pleasure.
We don't always bring out the tablecloths, but we do always make sure that the table is clear and looks beautiful.
We use our best cups or mugs and serving dishes, and we always use plates.
What you serve depends on how much work you want to put in. I think it's important to put in enough work to make it into a clearly special time.
Scones are quick and easy, but feel decadent when served with jam, fruit or cream (or all three....). This is the peach scone recipe which we serve with fresh peaches and cream.
Cookies are easy and great fun to bake with the children. Our all time favourites are these chocolate chip cookies: quick, reliable and tasty every time. Coming a close second for us are Melting Moments, which are just as quick and easy and taste sublime.
When the boys bake, they really love to make cupcakes. We have quite a collection of favourites now - but I think these little vanilla cupcakes topped with natural fruit puree frosting are possibly our current favourites.
We love to make it special. There's something intimate and very beautiful about making the space to read to one another whilst sharing different goodies for afternoon tea. It's become a tradition - one that I hope my children will remember fondly.
I remember having tea in the afternoon when I lived out in Kenya. Tea on the covered terrace of the Club was a familiar and soothingly calm experience for me. Although the Club was in the middle of town, it was on a large plot of land with a cricket field in front of the terrace. The club house was an old colonial stone building with wooden parquet floors and dark wooden fittings.
Tea was served every afternoon. Same tea every day. A selection of finger sandwiches (always including egg, tomato and cucumber), some kind of slab cake and tea. Tea was served on a little covered trolley where you could go and help yourself to a plate of sandwiches. I have fond and wistful memories of this time. Sigh.
I love knowing that I am helping to create similar special memories for my own children.
We have read out loud all of the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The children loved them and they are such classics.
Journey to the River Sea is an absolutely beautiful book. We have enjoyed all the other Eva Ibbotson books that we have read so far too.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had everyone laughing all the way through. Especially the part about square sweets that look round. Oscar laughed all afternoon!
If you don't want to buy a book on poetry, there's plenty on the internet. Here's a lovely little thread I found with a selection of tea poems.
Does anyone have a favourite poem book to share with us? We're always open to new suggestions.