Childhood Favorites Chances are, you have some poetry books in your home already that your kids know and love. Some poets that my kids have enjoyed have been Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. The snappy rhymes of these poems will intrigue and entertain your kids. A lot of children even learn how to read using Dr. Seuss books; the words fit together in a way that kids find them easy to memorize, and from there they form their own conclusions and predictions as to what will come next within the text. Any rhyming books that you have qualify as poetry, so if your little ones have any of them memorized, let them do that part of the poetry “reading.”
New Favorites Remember that not all poetry rhymes! There are many different types of poems, and just as many poets to discover. A quick Internet search will bring up hundreds of choices. Some that appeal to kids and adults alike include Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost and e.e. cummings. You might read aloud from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets or the selection, “Jabberwocky,” from Lewis Carroll’s, “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.” Find tongue-twisters, acrostic poems and haikus to read, highlighting the difference between the many different types.
Try Your Hand One of the most wonderful things about poetry is that anyone can write a poem! Encourage your kids to try to create a rhyming poem. Another option is to write a word or their first names down the side of a sheet of paper, and have them fill in the lines based on the letters used. This is an acrostic poem. A haiku is a style of poetry that is only three lines long; the first line has five syllables, the second, seven, and the third, five again. If none of these appeal to your kids, freestyle poems have no rules at all, and can be in any form they wish!
Having a family poetry reading can be a fun way to enjoy family togetherness while boosting their recognition of poets and poetry in general. Choose poems to read that have been written by other people, or read your own out loud. You could even invite the grandparents or a neighbor or two over to have refreshments and enjoy the reading. Your kids will look back on days like this with fondness when they’re adults, and it could be the start of a fun tradition that they pass on to their own children!