Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight. – Mem Fox, Reading Magic, 2001
Poetry is near and dear to my heart. My love of poetry came from my father, who would read poems to me every night before I went to sleep. He is a poet and always shared his love of words with me. That love of words and the beauty of language is something to which I have dedicated my life’s work. Poetry allowed me to play with words, discover their wonder, create new worlds, and express my emotions. Even now, my ninety-year-old father will send me an email with one of his poems or a few lines of a well-known poem. It is the way we communicate best!
At Kent Place, teachers include poetry in their curriculum at every grade level. Some teachers develop multi-week units devoted to poetry, while others decide to sprinkle poetry lessons like sugar throughout the school year. I am happy to serve as the guest poet in many classrooms, sharing my strategies for generating, developing, and revising poems. Poetry is a great way to spark student interest and to encourage children to use their imaginations.
- increases oral reading fluency
- sparks creative writing
- enriches vocabulary
- plays with words and uses figurative language
- has rhythm and rhyme
- expresses feelings
- adds to the enjoyment of nature
- enhances communication skills
Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share some suggestions of wonderful recently published poetry books you might want to share with your children and begin a tradition of your own!
- 100 Great Poems for Girls by Celia Johnson
- A Child’s Calendar by John Updike
- Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman
- Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown
- Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth
- Hush, Baby, Hush!: Lullabies from Around the World by Kathy Henderson and Pam Smy
- I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus by Jack Prelutsky
- Leave Your Sleep: A Collection of Classic Children’s Poetry by Natalie Merchant and Barbara McClintock
- The Wonderful Habits of Rabbits by Douglas Florian (and all of Florian’s books)
- Poetry Speaks to Children by Elise Pachen
- The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination by Mary Ann Hoberman
- Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year by Julie Andrews
Some websites you also might want to explore:
By Shel Silver Stein
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.