Parents often read to their children. They read picture books and short stories with beautiful illustrations. But there is a world of poetry beyond Dr. Seuss to which we can also introduce our children. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked.
Poetry offers a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn some of the foundational skills that are important as they become readers—phonemic awareness, word recognition, fluency. Once these skills are established, children can begin to develop their comprehension skills.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, segment, blend, and manipulate the sounds of language. Children love rhyming words—sing, ring, string, thing, swing, sting. Most poetry plays with the sounds of language. This provides a great way to learn new words using the ‘word family’ approach—“am” is developed into “Sam”, “ram”, “jam”, “slam.”
Poems are short, easy to learn and can be mastered in a short time.They have rhythm and rhyme. They are predictable and easy to memorize. As children improve their poetry reading skills, their comprehension will also improve and they will begin to read with appropriate expression, phrasing, volume and speed.
Use this summer as an opportunity to read some poetry! There is poetry to interest every child. Do your children like to laugh and be silly? Read humorous poetry from Shel Silverstein. Are they learning the days, months, seasons? Find poetry that teaches those skills. Here are some ideas:
Douglas Florian – Initially an artist with a love of painting, his poems add color to the world. HIs quote – “Whatever tickles my fancy or bangs my funny bone I approach with vim, vigor, or vice versa.”
Eloise Greenfield – Her poems are descriptive with a rhythmic style. They are realistic with a positive portrayal of African American communities.
Mary Ann Hoberman – She is clever and witty. Writes mostly about nature and science, she is a gifted humorist living in Connecticut.
Bruce Lansky – He grew up on the West Side of NYC and then in Scarsdale, NY. He is a publisher first and foremost, who now also writes limericks and humorous verse, many about school situations
Myra Cohn Livingston – Her poems are about everyday sights. She writes contemporary children’s poetry with sensitivity and a focus on correct form and structure, which are important to her. She is known as “The Poet’s Poet”
Kenn Nesbitt – He includes imagery of outrageous, everyday events and makes fun of school life!
Jack Prelutsky – Originally a folk singer, he writes imaginative and humorous verse. Some of his poetry is set to music! You can also get his audio anthologies.
Shel Silverstein – First a musician and composer, then a cartoonist for many magazines before becoming a poet and illustrator. His poetry is hilarious and sure to make your child laugh out loud! Try Where the Sidewalk Ends, sure to make you and your children smile. His most popular book is the well known, The Giving Tree.
Robert Louis Stevenson – Originally from Scotland, then moved to the United States. Though he is better known for his essays and books, he was a serious poet who loved literature.
Have a wonderful summer and keep reading!!!