The first and most obvious reason that kids should read poetry is because of the rhyme factor. Kids who are familiar with rhymes at an early age tend to be better readers. They become better spellers, learn to distinguish sounds, and develop auditory learning skills. Also, rhymes are fun and can help nurture a child's desire to read, aid in memorization skills, and develop new vocabulary.
But not all poems rhyme, and even if they did, there are other reasons for poetry to be a part of every kid's regular reading routine. Such as:
- Poems are often short, and short often means accessible, which is key for reluctant readers. You could text your teenage son a short poem and he will be almost guaranteed to read it.
- Poetry is full of figurative language, which forces the reader to use his or her imagination and understand on a deeper level what the writer is trying to say.
- A poem doesn't always have a clear meaning. Reading poetry and analyzing it for meaning helps to develop critical thinking skills.
- Poetry helps develop vocabulary by introducing the reader to new words and phrases.
- A well-written poem invites the reader to participate in an emotion or experience--it makes the reader feel something. This can help develop empathy and give kids (and adults) an insight into other people's emotions and experiences.
- Poetry encourages creativity. It is often a child's first introduction into the world of art, and may inspire them to explore other areas of creative expression.
Is poetry a part of your family's reading routine? Why not check out a few poetry books from the library this month and share them with your kids? Here are a few of my family's favorites:
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by Shell Silverstein
IT'S RAINING PIGS AND NOODLES by Jack Prelutsky
A CRACK IN THE CLOUDS AND OTHER POEMS by Constance Levy
SONG OF THE WATER BOATMAN by Joyce Sidman
SPINSTER GOOSE by Lisa Wheeler
And especially for the older readers:
PICNIC, LIGHTNING by Billy Collins
VERSED IN COUNTRY THINGS by Robert Frost
DAN MCGREW, SAM MCGEE: THE POEMS OF ROBERT SERVICE by Robert W. Service