Take Children on a Poetry Adventure

April, being National Poetry Month, is a great time to introduce children to poetry.

I love sharing poetry with younger audiences. Recently, in the midst of one of our many poetry adventures, I noticed something. I was reading aloud “Said the Frog” by J. Patrick Lewis.

“I was really in a muddle looking over a mud puddle,” started the poem. Halfway through listening, the children savored the internal rhyme, repeating what I said without being prompted. At that moment, I realized I didn’t have to cajole children to like poetry. They responded to it naturally.

One way to share high-quality poetry with children is to read them the work of Young People’s Poet Laureates. Over the years, the Poetry Foundation has awarded this title to several intriguing poets. Share their poems with your family.

Naomi Shihab Nye ponders others’ trash and the possible stories of how these items came to be discarded in Cast Away.

In Dreams From Many Rivers, Margarita Engle uses a variety of first person narratives to convey the painful truth of Latin American colonization. 

Prose in verse tells the tale of author Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood. Brown Girl Dreaming details her struggles growing up between the north and south and the salvation she ultimately found in the written word.

Animals with wacky personalities in even wackier circumstances entertain us in The Tighty Whitey Spider, an uproarious read.

No one can deliver a better punchline than Jack Prelutsky. My Dog May Be A Genius gives many examples of this skill, including accounts of nature walks gone wrong, heroic burpers, and witches losing their brooms.

In Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers Mary Ann Hoberman portrays the vast array of children’s family experiences. Hoberman covers everything from the feeling of missing a parent who has moved away to the hilarious chaos that comes with serving dinner to the whole family.

Make new discoveries in Lewis’ Everything Is A Poem, where scientific facts come alive in the form of poetry.

What are your favorite poems for children?

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