It’s baseball’s opening day! We aren’t big sportsing people in the Bookworm home. My own sportsing dialogue would sound something like this:
But baseball’s opening day has a specialness about it. It screams SPRING is here! And, since I’ve found a bookish way to celebrate it each year, I’ve grown fond of the occasion. Our tradition is to read the poem Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888. You can read the text here. A beautiful, gripping, dramatic and OLD poem, with a fun history. (And it’s also fun to read for opening day as April is National Poetry Month!)
At this point in my Bookworms’ development, the tradition may be more for ME than them. Since this year I sadly neglected to check out our favorite picture book version of the poem, I read the text alone to Preschool Bookworm. He sat contentedly listening, but when I asked at the end what sport the poem was about he said, “Um, basketball?” This may refer back to that sportsing meme above rather than comprehension, though, since I prompted him with, “but what sport uses a bat?” and he was no less befuddled.
To bring the poem to a younger audience, we enjoy Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman. This sequel was published in 2009 by Dan Gutman, prolific children’s author of the My Weird School series, Baseball Card Adventures series, the Million Dollar series, and many others. Casey Back at Bat was the very first book inscribed to my first Baby Bookworm when he was just a few weeks old. As an elementary school librarian, I was stoked to bring author Dan Gutman as our visiting author, and due to his popularity scheduled his visit a full year in advance… turns out my Baby Bookworm was born just before his visit and I missed the day. I adore having this special memento of my bookworm’s arrival (and I’m told the event went off without a hitch!).
If you’re looking for more Casey at the Bat fun:
Our favorite picture book version by Christopher Bing won the Caldecott Honor, and it’s fantastic! It’s a scrapbook style layout with so much to pore over on every page.
We’ve enjoyed Maestro Classic’s “Stories in Music” version, which includes a reading of the poem and MUCH supplementary material– history of the poem, musical tie-ins with sheet music and marching instructions.
Aaron Shepard has a Reader’s Theater version that would be a fun way for multiple students to perform the poem.
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