by Amanda Hill
Children are drawn to poetry. The sing-song nature of it, the beats, rhythm, and verses. It rolls off the tongue and tickles the funny bone. Usually our first experience with poetry is through nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes aren’t frivolous. They are part of our shared culture and heritage, an important foundation for allusions in later reading.
Not all poetry rhymes, but the rhyming stuff is great for building literacy. It jumpstarts the understanding to read all words ending in –at, -og, -un, etc. Getting a poem to rhyme can often require some special word gymnastics and is very likely to introduce new vocabulary to your children.
Reading poetry to your children opens up all sorts of avenues for discussion. You can talk about syllables, symbolism, alliteration, and so much more. Some poems are like a code or riddle. You and your kids can ponder, imagine, feel, and guess. Just remember, in poetry there’s no right or wrong answer!
Need more convincing? The National Opinion Research Center conducted a study for The Poetry Foundation entitled, “Poetry in America.” One of the key findings of that study was that “poetry readers tend to listen to music, read a variety of genres, use the Internet, attend cultural events, volunteer, and socialize with friends and family at significantly higher rates than do non-poetry readers.” In addition, “poetry readers believe that poetry provides insights into the world around them, keeps the mind sharp, helps them understand themselves and others, and provides comfort and solace.”
Still not good enough?
Two words. Shel Silverstein.
Try poetry! I promise you and your children will like it.
Amanda Hill grew up in the mountain desert of southwestern Wyoming. The library was right outside her back gate and so it was easy to fulfill her love of reading. After high school, she attended Brigham Young University, where she graduated with a BA in Chemistry. After having two children and living all over the country, she now resides in central California. Amanda loves to read, write, crochet, sew, garden, play the piano, go camping, and spend all day with her beautiful kids.