Today is the last day of summer… Yikes! and what a wild and disappointing summertime this has been for so many children and their families. With hopes that next year will be so much a better one than this year, today I’m recommending a bit of a turn in my usual efforts to support the joy of reading and a love for books.
I’d like to encourage what may be new for many families. These special delights also appear in books, but of quite a different nature than fiction- and fact-focused books read so often to kids.
Though I have mentioned many times how the language found in books is ideal for helping young children to speak well and communicate effectively, of all language sources, poetry is unquestionably the most powerful.
Poems are a special kind of writing and of course reading, that offer vivid language that sparks our senses and sets off images in kids’ thinking. Exposing children to such beauty in language will help them learn about the powerful nuances of language that can help them express themselves and of course to understand subtleties in what others may say. Mastery of such spoken and written finesse is bound to provide kids with a strong foundation for whatever life they choose to lead as well as encouragement for language creativity right now.
To begin with, let me suggest that families visit some of the sites that showcase poetry about the new season, short poems and those for littles. Here are other links that suggest poetry for toddlers, as well as school age and older children:
Lest there be any confusion for those new to poetry reading, here are a few guidelines that will assist parents and older siblings in reading poetry to children new to reading:
- Poems are meant to be said aloud! So, the best reading is full of life, with emotions expressed through changing stress on particularly important words, changes in the voice from high to low and soft to loud, and alterations of speed and pausing as each poem calls for.
- Reading / repeating a few poems to kids each day sets the stage for inviting younger children to say the poem along with the reader .
- Memorizing short poems is something that small children will love to do. They can impress relatives and neighbors with their dramatic performances.
- Finally, inviting children into conversation about how poems are different from storybooks is a good way to anchor the specialness of poems. Be sure to take a few minutes to discuss the more flowery and dramatic words that appear in any day’s poetry reading.
Once children have come to understand poetry, then make paper, with writing and art drawing materials available and invite kiddos to create their own poems to share with loved ones.