For parents who love literature and poetry, the desire to expose their children to rhyme, meter, and poetry itself is natural. For others, the desire to teach their children poetry comes from the desire to provide them with a strong foundation for learning to read. Research suggests that children who are exposed to rhyming verse when young learn to read more easily. In contrast, children who are unable to create or find rhymes are more likely to develop reading problems. For infants, the rhythm of nursery rhymes resembles the beating of a mother's heart giving reading a pleasant association, which is important for creating avid readers. In addition, children have an affinity for rhythm and rhyme because it creates order out of chaos. Rhyming books and verse also help beginning readers anticipate words, which will increase their confidence and skill as readers.
Poetry for Children Through Nursery Rhymes
- Expose your children to poetry by reciting to them nursery rhymes and other children's verse when they are infants.
- Read simple short books with short verses. One verse and illustration per page or per every two pages is ideal.
- Pin verses or rhymes above your baby's changing table. Recite the verses when you change their diaper or clothes. By reciting the same few verses every time you are at the changing table, you reinforce the sounds. In addition, you are surrounding your child with the comfort of repetition. Make a game of it and create actions to go with each verse. Soon both you and your baby will have the verse and actions memorized.
Poetry for Children Through Music
- Find music collections that feature nursery rhymes or children's verse.
- There are many children's sing-a-long collections that contain all the classic nursery rhymes and verses of childhood. Turn on the music and sing and dance with your baby.
- As your child grows older, you might want to expose him to more complex and meaningful verse. Ted Jacobs has two music collections of poetry. The collection most suitable to small children is A Child's Garden of Songs: The Poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson in Song. His second collection The Days Gone By: Songs of the American Poets has poems by a variety of poets including Edgar Allan Poe.
- Many artists have set classic works of poetry to music, including Andrew Lloyd Webber who uses the poetry of TS Eliot for his musical Cats and Loreena McKennett who includes Alfred Noyes great ballad The Highwayman on her album The Book of Secrets. Alfred Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shalott is included on her album The Visit.
Poetry for Children from What they Say
- Children are born poets. They create metaphors and similes that often escape adults because their analytical mind isn't as developed and they are still learning the rules of language. Because the rules of language aren't as rigid for them, they are much more comfortable bending those rules.
- Encourage your children to describe things and when they say something striking, write it down for them and allow them to illustrate it. Frame their poem or collect their poems in books.