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Caroline Kennedy tries to boost poetry

NEW YORK — In her latest book, an anthology of poems for young people, Caroline Kennedy hopes to share with children the love for the written word that her poetry-filled childhood helped instill in her.

Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, said poetry was a central part of her home life growing up. She and her late brother, John, copied out and illustrated poems for their mother, Jackie, to commemorate birthdays and Mother’s Days.

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Sometimes, they would recite them, too, ‘‘if we were feeling competitive.’’ And at family gatherings with their grandmother, there were frequent challenges to recite Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘‘Paul Revere’s Ride.’’ Only her uncle, Edward M. Kennedy, the late senator, was able to recite the long work in its entirety.

‘‘It was a combination of remembering my own childhood and thinking about gifts I’d been given,’’ she said in an interview last week at her husband’s Manhattan design firm, explaining the genesis of the latest book. ‘‘And working in schools and seeing the role that poetry can play in kids’ lives.’’

It’s also an effort to promote literacy, a cause Kennedy has supported in a number of ways. ‘‘Fourteen percent of American adults can’t read,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a slow-motion disaster.’’

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