‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat!’ looks at over 400 years of poetry for children, celebrating children’s poetry from the 17th century to the present day. The exhibition features key poets and poems from the Library’s collections, and is a show for both adults and children.
It is a scholarly display, and therefore has many books in glass cases. Some are breathtaking in their rarity and importance. ‘Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book’, published in 1744, is the first surviving printed collection of English nursery rhymes. Although the tiny volume might not impress your five year old, read aloud ‘Piss a Bed’ (the rhyme on the page at which the book is opened) and you’ll probably find common ground.
Whilst there is quite a lot of reading required, children can listen to recordings of many poems from the British Library’s sound archive on headphones. A single monitor shows a compilation of poets reading their own work. John Hegley, who recites Bonfire Night-themed poems against a background of fireworks is a particular treat, and Jamaican-British poet Benjamin Zephaniah needs no backing to provide an explosive performance.
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