Our children are here to stay
But our babies are not, I’m sorry to say
They grow and learn everyday
In the most remarkable and intriguing way
— Crystal K. Acerrio
Many parents take the time to read picture books and board books to their young children every day. But did you know poetry can also be very beneficial for children? Reading poetry aloud to and with your young children can have benefits that last for years.
There are many reasons why poetry is significant for young readers. Research has shown that poetry motivates children to read, builds phonemic awareness and builds essential skills like vocabulary, fluency, expression, and writing. Each of these is crucial for children to develop in order to become strong readers.
According to Reading Rockets, good readers are “phonemically aware, understand the alphabetic principle, apply these skills in a rapid and fluent manner, possess strong vocabularies and syntactical and grammatical skills, and relate reading to their own experiences.”
By exposing children to poetry, both by reading and writing poetry, we are helping them gain those foundational skills that lead to later reading success. Scholastic highlighted Regie Routman, a language arts teacher who teaches 1st and 2nd grade who has seen his students grow and develop through writing free verse.
“I was amazed at how creative and insightful all (the) kids became. Students who struggled with forming letters and words, writing sentences, and who found writing in school burdensome, blossomed in this genre.
“Free from restrictions in content, form, space, length, conventions, and rhyme, they could let their imaginations soar. Proficient writers also shone. For all children, their choice of words improved, and their joy in innovating surfaced.”
That joy in learning — and specifically in poetry — can begin when children are very young. Many children’s books, including picture and board books, are written in meter. Some of the most well-beloved children’s authors, including Dr. Seuss, use poetry to strengthen young children’s literacy skills while creating entertaining stories and messages.
Poetry is also a healthy way for children to express their feelings,especially during emotionally challenging situations. It helps children understand themselves and others, allowing them to cultivate valuable qualities like compassion and empathy.
One of the reasons why poetry can help children develop empathy and express creativity is that there’s room for personal interpretation. Reading poetry out loud can help you experience it more fully, and unveil the deeper meaning of the poem.
Selecting poetry books for young kids that are funny, interesting, or relates to the experiences they’re having, can help improve their literacy and improve motivation to read.
If you are wondering where to start and where to read poetry, the Provo City Library at Academy Square, has a list of children’s poetry books. The books are fun and are available for check out. The list also includes a summary of the books.
Another good resource is Goodreads.com. On the Goodreads site, readers have listed great children’s poetry books. Some books may be recognizable (like the classic “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein), but there are also many new poetry books to be discovered (like “Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems” by Marilyn Singer).
Writing and reading poetry is a rewarding endeavor for any age, that has a myriad of benefits. Using poetry as a tool in children’s education is helpful, and is a fun literacy strengthening activity that can help children learn in a different way.
So read, read, read a lot.
A line, verse, page, or a book
Start to think things never thought.
You will find you found your hook.