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Family Read-alouds: Fun with Poetry



4 reasons why reading poetry is great for kids

4 reasons why reading poetry is great for kids


While your family is working and learning from home, why not make your read-aloud times really special? Maybe you’re reading a classic chapter book as a family, or a biography or nature books that open the door to environmental learning. Whatever you’re reading, don’t forget to include some rhymes and poems.

A few decades ago, children consistently knew classic folk and fairy tales, nursery rhymes and various poems when they entered school. Today that isn’t true. For a variety of reasons kids have become more focused on popular contemporary songs and stories rather than classic literature. They know all about Frozen or Lion King, but they aren’t familiar with The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.

READ MORE: Encourage early literacy, confidence and self-expression

But there are good reasons to make some time for poetry, both classic and contemporary. Here are some of them:

1. Poetry can boost social/emotional growth

  • Poetry is full of expression and emotion. It can help a child learn how others think and feel.
  • Reciting poems can build community. It’s a bit like singing a song together, with all the rhythms and rhyming words.
  • Enjoyment of poetry can build emotional resilience. Children can say, “I feel that way, too,” or, “Now I understand why my friend was afraid.”
2. Response to poetry has a physical component.

  • Poetry is the most kinesthetic of all literature. It is filled with rhythms and musical beats. It invites a physical response.
  • Reciting poems gives a child’s mouth, tongue and breathing a good workout. It builds fluency and expressive skills.
  • Poetry is filled with patterns and sequences; it has a musical quality that creates interaction.

3. Poetry can support and improve cognitive learning skills

  • Poetry builds and extends vocabulary. It places new words in a quick context supporting access to meaning.
  • Poems build phonemic awareness such as pitch, voice inflection, and variations in volume
  • Poetry invites creativity and self-expression. Children learn that reading is not just a list of rules to follow, but a world of meaning.
  • Poetry can improve both reading and writing skills as children gain a deeper love of language.
  • Poems can aid in memorization skills. The structure of poems makes them easier to remember than longer passages.

From the cradle on, children love poetry. Look for anthologies of children’s poetry to get an overview of poets or search for your favorite children’s authors as many of them have written verse as well as stories. Read the poems to your children, but don’t forget to have them memorize some of them for the valuable skills gained and the sheer fun of it. Here are some children’s poetry favorites:

The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems, edited by Donald Hall

Eric Carle’s Animals, Animals

A Treasury of Poetry for Young People, over 150 poems by six American Poets

Favorite Poems Old and New, over 700 poems edited by Ellen Ferris

Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky

The Original Mother Goose by Blanch Fisher Wright

Richard Scarry’s Best Mother Goose Ever

Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne



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