Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish author, traveller and painter who wrote adventure novels, essays and travel stories during the late 1800s.
He wrote some wonderful stories for older children and for adults but is most famous for a book of poems for children called A Child’s Garden of Verse, which first appeared in 1885.
Unusually, the book has been pretty much continuously in print ever since.
I have lovely memories of my mother reading this book of Robert Louis Stevenson poems to me when I was small and the poems on this page are my absolute favourites.
When my twin sons were born in 1995, I bought a new copy of the book and really enjoyed sharing the poems with them.
It’s a great idea to start reading these poems to your children from birth because the gentle rhythm is very soothing for a new little person who is, after all, getting used to a whole new world.
Reading poems like these in a slow, calm voice is a lovely bonding activity and will often calm a restless baby.
As a bonus, reading poems like these to babies and young children stimulates the development of phonological awareness, an important pre-reading skill.
It also exposes your child to words and phrases he might not hear anywhere else.
This will help his language skills, even if he’s still a very young baby, because it helps build brain connections.
Robert Louis Stevenson Poems for Kids
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow –
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
A Good Boy
I woke before the morning, I was happy all the day,
I never said an ugly word, but smiled and stuck to play.
And now at last the sun is going down behind the wood,
And I am very happy, for I know that I’ve been good.
My bed is waiting cool and fresh, with linen smooth and fair,
And I must be off to sleepsin-by, and not forget my prayer.
I know that, till to-morrow I shall see the sun arise,
No ugly dream shall fright my mind, no ugly sight my eyes.
But slumber hold me tightly till I waken in the dawn,
And hear the thrushes singing in the lilacs round the lawn.