Poetry for Children

I have always loved to read many genres but poetry has often intimidated me. In all honesty, poetry can also make me feel uncomfortable.

But as an adult, I started to dip my toe into poetry. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I started with two anthologies: Poems that Touch the Heart (compiled by A.L. Alexander) and From Totems to Hip-Hop: A Multicultural Anthology Across the Americas, 1900-2002 (edited by Ishmael Reed). If I got confused by a poem, I moved on to another. And I enjoyed making connections to many of the poems I read. I will admit that poetry is still not my true love, but I do have more appreciation for it now.

As I grew into poetry, I began to look for poetry or lyrical language in children’s literature. When I found good examples, I shared them with my students. Now, as a stay at home mom, I share those examples with my children as we read together. They are too young to understand the difference between poetry and prose, but I hope that poetry will be more accessible and enjoyable to them as they grow older.

If you would like to start reading some poetic literature with your children or students, I recommend Rise the Moon by Eileen Spinelli. This whimsical bedtime story describes in poetic form how various people in a town take delight in the moon’s appearance at night. My daughters loved the illustrations, too! This is a great bedtime read-aloud but could also be incorporated in a simple science lesson on the lunar phases.

Best Ages: pre-k to 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Chant some of the words that rhyme in the poems that make up Rise the Moon. (Example: “Night, Light, those words rhyme!”)
  • Talk about what you do at bedtime in the evening. Look outside the window to see if the moon is visible tonight.

For Teachers:

  • Place sets of rhyming words on the board or in a word chart sorter for students to see. Practice reading and repeating each word. Then find the match of rhyming words (use examples from the book or other high-frequency words).
  • Check out and select an appropriate activity to teach the lunar phases to your child/students (here are  21 ideas!).