Poetry for children is a way to cultivate imagination and critical thinking

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Exposure to poetry is important for children. Childhood is the critical stage when children should discover the wonders and benefits of poetry in order to make lifetime readers of poems.

When thinking of the nature of children, it would seem that children's poetry would be easy for them to love, because they love playing with language.

Children are at the unique stage of life when they are just discovering the many uses of language.

Rhymes and patterns are very obvious and exciting to them, and can be used by parents and teachers to begin a love for poetry.

The way poetry is presented to children is critical. Simply handed a poetry book, children may not understand or know what to do with it. Children need guidance, and it is up to parents to provide this.

Poetry is one genre of children’s literature that both adults and children can receive equal benefit from. Poems for children may not be interpreted the same by both children and adults, but the enjoyment can be equal.

When reading a poem with a child it is important for adults to ask children what they are seeing on the pages and encourage children to think about how the illustrations are connected to the text.

The beauty of poetry should be revealed to children. Adults can be a catalyst to a child’s love of poetry. If a child sees that an adult finds poetry enjoyable and worthwhile, the child will be intrigued to discover for themselves the wonder of poetry.

An excellent way to get children excited about poetry would be to have a poetry night. Most families read stories to their children before bedtime, and by making one night’s bedtime story a poem, children can begin to learn about poetry.

Robert Frost’s granddaughter, Lesley Lee Francis, described the benefit that both children and adults can find from reading poetry well when she said, “Invited into the unpredictable world of the imagination, of metaphor and the free association of ideas, young and old readers alike may share the underlying sentiments with the open intuition of a child.”

The mind of a child is the perfect place for poetry to grow. Children are all young poets; they just need help to realize their potential. Poetry for children is a way to access areas of their imagination and grow as critical thinkers, and poems should be a part of every child’s life.

What are some of the ways to use poetry for children?

Expose children to poetry simply by reading it aloud and emphasizing the rhymes or the sounds of the words. Let them to enjoy the sounds of the language. With older children, get them to think about different kinds of poetry. Introduce older children to different kinds of poetry books - anthologies, concrete poems, narrative poems, and humorous poems. Show them the huge sweep of what poetry can be about color, nature, and emotions.

Another way to use poetry is to look at different illustrators’ interpretations of the same poem. Compare and contrast two illustrations on the same poem.

What benefits does poetry offer?

Poetry celebrates the individual word, the sound of language, and the rhythm of language in a way that narrative does not. It is a fun, short, tasty morsel to share with children. Poetry builds the foundation for learning to read by being exposed to the sounds and rhythms of language. For older children, poetry is a great vehicle for learning how complex thoughts, humorous ideas, deep emotions, or entire narratives can be expressed with a few carefully chosen words.

Why do children like poetry?

Poetry is natural to children. They speak poetry themselves, unwittingly spilling out metaphors of the most surprising and engaging kind. Good poems do the same thing. Babies, toddlers, and young children just love the sounds of poetry, even if they don't understand all the words or the meanings of the poems.

Children of all ages seem to remember children's poems with relative ease, especially rhyming poetry. Poetry is also part of one's cultural identity, part of one's shared culture. Just think of the number of times you hear references to "Humpty Dumpty" or "The Jabberwocky."

What kinds of poetry are best for different ages of children?

For the very youngest ages, playful, rhyming poetry about topics that are familiar and of interest to children. Kindergartners and first graders really enjoy humorous poems about topics they can relate to. Begin to show children at these ages that poetry does not always rhyme, but also make sure that beginning readers are exposed to plenty of rhyming poetry to help them build phonemic awareness that will help them as they begin to read.

In second and third grades, try to broaden their concept of what poetry can be. Introduce them to anthologies of poetry about a single topic, such as The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, by Jack Prelutsky, a book of poems all about dragons.

Show them concrete poetry, or poems that are designed to look like what they are about, by sharing collections such as Joan Bransfield Graham's Flicker Flash. Introduce them to a couple of kinds of poetry that often inspire children to write their own poetry - haiku and acrostic poems. Leslie Evans’ Winter: An Alphabet Acrostic is a collection that shows children how rich acrostics can be. I also like to share longer narrative poems that tell an entire story, such as Vera B. Williams’ Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart, and Sharon Creech's Love That Dog.

Introduce children to outrageous poems--such as those in James Stevenson's Sweet Corn: Poems and Corn Chowder: Poems - that make them rethink their idea of what makes a poem.

What are your favorite poetry books?

For babies, toddlers, young children and even kindergartners, try Here Comes Mother Goose (My Very First Mother Goose), books by Douglas Florian, such Summersaults. Florian's works for school-aged children, such as Laugh-eteria: Poems and Drawings. Plum, a new collection by Tony Mitton, the Meet Danitra Brown series by Nikki Grimes, and Pass It On: African American Poetry, edited by Wade Hudson. Of course, the classics, like A.A. Milne's When We Were Very Young (Pooh Original Edition) and Now We Are Six (Pooh Original Edition). Another collection of poems that has stood the test of time is The Random House Book of Poetry for Children.

Parents, educators, librarians, and poetry enthusiasts have wondered for years how to get children really interested in poetry. Until now, there hasn't been a collection of poems and poets that spoke directly to children. Poetry Speaks to Children breaks through that barrier by packaging the best poems by the best authors (along with a CD) making the engrossing and often mischievous verses come alive in the voices of many of the creators.

More than 90 poems, for children ages six and up, celebrate the written word and feature a lineup of beloved poets, including: Roald Dahl; J. R. R. Tolkien; Robert Frost; Gwendolyn Brooks; Ogden Nash; John Ciardi; Langston Hughes; Sonia Sanchez; Seamus Heaney; Canada's best-loved children's poet, Dennis Lee; Rita Dove; Billy Collins; Nikki Giovanni and X. J. Kennedy.

On the accompanying CD, 52 of the poems are brought to life-most read by the poets themselves-allow the reader to hear the words as the poets intended. Hear Gwendolyn Brooks growl her rhyming verse poem "The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or, What You Are You Are "with verve and inflection-relaying the story of the striped cat who "rushed to the jungle fair for something fine to wear," much to the hoots of his jungle peers. Amid jeers, sneers and sighs, the tiger eventually learns to be comfortable in his own striped skin (or fur as it were!).

Follow Ogden Nash as he tells of the brave little Isabel, who "didn't worry, didn't scream or scurry" when confronted with a ravenous bear, a one-eyed giant or a troublesome doctor. Her clever solutions to problems ("She turned the witch into milk and drank her") will keep even the most reluctant readers interested. Poetry Speaks to Children reaches into the world of poetry and pulls out the elements children love: rhyme, rhythm, fun and, every once in a while, a little mischief.

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young is a compilation of poems about picnics, pretend, and puppies make this book the book to introduce little ones to poetry. Jack Prelutsky, one of today's most respected children's poets, has selected more than 200 short poems, old favorites, traditional rhymes, and humorous verses, that will delight young listeners.

More than 200 poems and rhymes have been assembled by Prelutsky in this large, satisfying volume. An obvious love for all things childlike is present in selections by Myra Cohn Livingston, Ogden Nash, A. A. Milne, Else Holmelund Minarik, Karen Gundersheimer, George MacDonald, Robert Louis Stevenson and many, many others. Brown's pictures spill over with robust children, woeful or willful animals, and not-very-scary monsterswearing sometimes sheepish, other times exuberant expressions. Page after page of winter rhymes, pet poems and bedtime fancieshere is a book that could inspire a lifetime love of the lilting tones of favorite poets. An introduction by Jim Trelease makes the case for reading aloud; one need go no further than this volume to be convinced.

The Children's Treasury: Fairy Tales, Nursery Rhymes & Nonsense Verse, illustrated by famous artists, contains the best of children's poetry, childrens stories and fairy tales.

Children's Treasury is full of fairy tales, nursery rhymes and children's verse that will entertain the entire family. Many favorites are presented, including Cinderella, The Owl and the Pussycat, Rumpelstiltzkin, Aesop's Fables, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and Thumbelina. These stories are both enchanting and educational, combining simple morals with delightful fantasy. A classic volume, The Random House Children's Treasury is a bounty of imagination, whimsy and magic to cherish for generations.

Painting the Sky: Writing Poetry with Children by Shelley Tucker teaches children to write poetry using the poetic elements of everyday language - metaphor, simile, personification, repetition, alliteration, and more. Arranged around these elements, each chapter of Painting the Sky includes writing exercises, suggestions, models for students, and sample poems written by poets of all ages.

Brilliant, playful, and always respectful of children, Dr Seuss charmed his way into the minds of generations of children and adults. Dr Seuss "s magic survived his death in 1991, continuing to be the world's best-selling childrens book author, and his characters, including the irrepressible Cat in the Hat, are considered among the most influential "media" personalities in young children's lives.

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