When I was in my teens I turned to reading and writing poetry as an outlet. I found solace in the rhythmic sound and flow of poetry. Though I never got very good at writing poetry I still enjoyed it as a way of expressing myself and my feelings. The rhythm and flow of poetry, even the ones that did not rhyme, created a calming effect that made me feel relaxed and comfortable.
April is poetry awareness month, and there are many poets out that that write for children. April would be a good month to introduce your child(ren) to poetry and the many wonders that it holds. Until doing some research I wasn’t aware of just how many poets that writes for children. Truly the only one that I knew of was Shel Silverstein. Those poems were funny and interesting and made just for children to enjoy. There are many other poets out that that write for children such as Bob Raczka, Jack Prelutsky, J. Patrick Lewis, Robert Lewis Silverson, and so many more.
There are many benefits to reading poetry out loud to your children or, for those that can read, giving them books of poetry to read. Language Development is one benefit. Rhyming words make it easier for children to learn new words. Poetry offers a familiar context in which to learn new words. Reading and repeating rhymes helps children to practice pitch, voice inflection, and volume. Physical development is another benefit to poetry and young children. It teaches them when to breath while reading and for how long. This doesn’t need any explanation or reason, it just happens when reading poetry. With the musical structure of the rhyme a child can learn not only breath coordination but tongue and mouth movements.
Cognitive development occurs when a child reads poetry or when it is read to them. They start to understand the meaning of words that seem similar but have different meanings. They start to learn patterns and start recognizing when there is a pattern. Social and Emotional development can also be obtained through poetry. Rhymes can encourage a child’s sense of humor and sharing these rhymes with family can set the stage for inside jokes or an emotional attachment to stories read with their parents. They then can go back to these stories and poems to remember the feeling of love and enjoyment that they got while reading with their family.
While reading and writing poetry may bring back the memory of trying to read and understand William Shakespeare, a not so fond memory for me, it doesn’t have to be that way. Read though many different poets, until you can find one that speaks to you. It won’t take as long as you may think. One website I found was Family Friend Poems that gives you an insight into several poets that are family friendly. It may start you on the path to finding the right poet and poems to read with your children. My favorite may always be Shel Silverstein but after going to the before mentioned website I realized I not only like the Winnie the Pooh stories of A.A. Milne but I like at least a few of his poems as well.
Rhythm and rhymes of poetry have many benefits to young children, but in the end you may just find that the best benefit is the time spent with your young children and the memories that it creates.
Thanks for reading,
Ms. Cheryl, Early Literacy Coordinator
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