Chinese language class is an important part of elementary school. But at students get older, they are called on to study the poetry of the past.
Unfortunately, most selections tend to suck.
In a curriculum known for picking material more for its difficulty or political content, more beautiful ancient works often ends up kicked to the curb. Chinese Poems for Children, a recently published collection by Ye Jiaying, is intended to remedy this educational deficit by giving young readers a crash course in classical poetry and the context of its creation.
The book consists of 218 poems including 177 shi and 41 ci poetic measures, all selected by Ye to foster children’s interest and learning ability. The poems cover almost every period of time and most of China’s favorite poets.
Ye said his only aim for the book was to cultivate children’s interest in ancient poems and inspire them to explore China’s literary tradition outside the classroom.
Born in Beijing in 1924, Ye is a descendant of the Yehenara family, one of the Manchu clans of the Qing Dynasty. She graduated from Fu Jen Catholic University with a degree in Chinese and became a professor at National Taiwan University in 1950. In the years since, she has taught as a guest professor at Harvard University and Michigan State University.
Ye spent her life studying ancient poetry. During her 70-year effort, her students included both kindergarteners and Ph.D students. Her work, which combines Western literary theory with Chinese study, demonstrates an exceptional skill at simplifying ancient verse and clarifying its meaning.
While intended for children, Ye’s poetry collection is a fantastic resource for anyone looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of China’s greatest literary tradition.