Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe!

Edgar Allan Poe’s 204th birthday just passed.

One does not normally categorize this great author’s writing as children’s writing but I have used it many a time in a school classroom, most often during Halloween.

I would not recommend his writing for very young children, not only because of its graphic nature but also because the 19th century vocabulary is difficult to understand even for adults.

However, for young adult readers, simply listening to Poe’s poetry read aloud can register the same effect on one as listening to a Shakespearean play read aloud. One does not need to understand the meaning of every word to grasp the general meaning and mood of certain passages. And, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, some pieces of writing were meant to be heard more than read.

My fascination with Poe has led to my collecting a number of books which include biographies and poetry/short story anthologies.


Three of these books are appropriate for young adult readers. All three are precursors of graphic novels and were published in the 1990s. They reflect graphic novels in the sense that Poe’s poems are side-by-side with rich, moody illustrations to accompany the words.

Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven and Other Poems was published in 1990 by The Berkley Publishing Group and First Publishing, Inc. and is illustrated by Gahan Wilson.

Poetry for Young People: Edgar Allan Poe was published in 1995 by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. and is illustrated by Carolynn Cobleigh.

The Raven: Poem by Edgar Allan Poe was published in 1996 by Dover Publications, Inc. The illustrations, by the very well-known Gustave Dore are actually reproductions of pictures Dore produced in 1884.

All three collections of poetry highlight Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven,” written in 1845.

I would recommend that any of these books be included in a classroom of young adults or in middle schools.


About randycoates

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.
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