Everyone should have more poetry in their lives. It is wonderful because it can be silly or serious, it can help you learn something about yourself or the world, and it is an excellent form of expression for anyone. Lots of children get their first introduction to language and books through stories (Dr. Seuss) and nursery rhymes that use poetic devices, but sadly somewhere along the way, poetry tends to fall by the wayside.
Since it is one of those things that kids generally love, we thought we’d look into some fun ways to include poetry in your daily life and hopefully help get kids excited about reading it on their own.
The easiest way to gets kids interested in poetry is to get a good book and read it together. Since there are thousands of books to choose from, you should start with some of the more popular children’s poets. Almost anything from Shel Silverstein is a good choice, other favorite children’s poets to check out are Jack Prelutsky, Kenn Nesbitt, Jon Scieszka, Roald Dahl, Paul Janeczko, Marilyn Singer, Sharon Creech, or Allan Ahlberg.
If you want to get a collection or anthology for children, there is no shortage of material to choose from. Here are a few to check out:
- Poetry Speaks to Children – is a collection of more than 90 poems that were written specifically for children ages six and up. Some of the poets in this collection include Roald Dahl, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ogden Nash, John Ciardi, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, Seamus Heaney, Dennis Lee, Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Nikki Giovanni and X. J. Kennedy. There is also a CD that comes with this book that has 50 of the poems being read, most by the poets themselves.
- Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD is from the A Poetry Speaks Experience series (that also includes Poetry Speaks to Children). This collection has 50 songs and poems with 30 performances on the CD from Eloise Greenfield, Mos Def, Lucille Clifton, Oscar Brown Jr., Tupac Shakur, Maya Angelou, Queen Latifah, Nikki Grimes, Walter Dean Myers, Common, and Nikki Giovanni.
- A Child’s Book of Poems is a collection of famous classical poems, proverbs, limericks, nursery rhymes, and folk songs for children. This anthology has 200 pieces with beautiful illustrations to go along with the poems. Some of the poets include William Blake, Kate Greenaway, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth, Lewis Carroll, and Eugene Fields.
- Poems to Learn by Heart is a lovely collection of poems for children chosen by Caroline Kennedy. This beautifully illustrated book covers a wide range of topics and has some classical as well as contemporary poems. It is an excellent introduction for anyone.
Poetry Websites for Kids
If you are looking for something a bit more interactive, there are quite a lot of websites for kids. If you have a favorite contemporary poet, there is a good chance they will have their own site, some with games and links to their work. Some other websites that are great for kids are:
- Poetry4Kids is Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt website that has funny poems, games, a rhyming dictionary, writing lessons for kids, and lots more. There is a lot of great material on this site for kids.
- Mother Goose Club is a fantastic collection of Mother Goose resources. It has videos of all of the famous Mother Goose rhymes as well as songs and activities for young children.
- Giggle Poetry has hundreds of funny poems for kids to read and rate. This site is excellent because the poems are organized efficiently, and there are fun activities and games for kids to do.
- Story It has a great list of links to classical poems for children written by a variety of poets such as Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edward Lear. The poems range from fun and lively to solemn and thought-provoking.
For those times where you may be stuck somewhere and want a quick fix for your kids, here are a couple of poetry apps that might come in handy:
- iF Poems is a beautiful app that has 270 poems that are nicely illustrated and are read by some famous British actors like Helena Bonham Carter and Tom Hiddleston. The app isn’t specifically for kids, but you can search for poems by age range, and there are lots of poems for kids on this app.
- Nursery Rhymes for Kids is a free Android app that covers most of the basic nursery rhymes that kids love.
I came across Classical Baby: The Poetry Show when I was looking for some music resources, and it’s a cool little intro for very young children. It is a compilation of 13 favorites from poets like William Shakespeare, John Keats, Woodie Guthrie, and Gertrude Stein that are read by famous people like Gwyneth Paltrow and Susan Sarandon.
I feel like I should end with a poem, but I won’t. Happy reading!
photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photopin