Plato once said, “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet,” so Valentine’s Day is the perfect time of year to explore poetry with your child! What can you do to help inspire a love of poetry? Read, write, and perform all types of poetry.
Start by selecting some favorite poems or encourage your child to share some of her favorites. As you take turns reading aloud, engage and interact with the poems or simply listen and enjoy the language. Poems don’t always have to inspire deep thoughts; sometimes it’s enough to “ooh” and “aah” over great lines, to laugh at funny images, or to think about what the images remind you of.
After reading a few poems, talk more in depth about what was just read: What do you see in your mind when you listen to this poem? What kind of sounds do you hear? Why do you think the poet wrote the poem this way?
Read a line from the poem and tap your hand on your leg to encourage an awareness of beat and rhythm. Together, try to keep the beat by clapping or tapping feet while reading a poem with a strong rhythm. What else could you use besides your hands to keep the beat?
After reading inspiring examples of poems, invite your child to write a few of his own. For the youngest learners, a great place to start is with a rebus. A rebus substitutes images for words and is used by authors to write for young readers who are able to identify only a limited number of words. Share with your child a variety of books using rebus writing and then invite him to create his own rebus poem.
Another great option for early learners is writing a poem within a shape. The online Theme Poems interactive teaches the basic steps involved in writing a poem: finding a topic, brainstorming for ideas, coming up with a title, writing, revising, and publishing. By selecting a shape, your child is learning how to focus his writing on a particular topic or theme and how fun writing poetry can be.
Acrostic poems can also be fun for budding poets! An acrostic poem uses the letters in a word to begin each line of the poem. All lines of the poem relate to or describe the main topic word. Ask your child to write a poem about herself using the letters of her name with the online Acrostic Poems interactive. An extra bonus is that she can share her poem with friends and family!
Reading aloud and performing poetry can be a real treat for children. The act of performing a poem can truly make it come alive. After reading and writing a variety of poems together, invite your child to perform a poem: either one by a favorite author or a self-written masterpiece. Decide if props are needed and if the poem should be performed with a partner, a group, or solo. Encourage your child to practice multiple times, while thinking about these questions:
- What words should be emphasized? Does it sound different when different words are stressed?
- Should each line be read at the same speed or the same volume?
- What happens if your child adds gestures? Moves his body? Tries different facial expressions?
Looking for more poems to read with a child? Listen to the Chatting About Books: Playful Poetry Books to Share podcast for fun ways to read poetry with children.
Repeated exposure to a variety of poems and poets will help lead children (and adults alike) to discover and foster a love for poetry!
ReadWriteThink.org is a website developed by the International Reading Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, with support from the Verizon Foundation. For more activities, games, printouts, and how-to’s, check out their Parent and Afterschool resources.
Reading Rainbow wants to thank ReadWriteThink for contributing to this weeks guest blog on Language and Poetry. We appreciate their support in our mission to inspire a love of reading in children and connect them to the world they live in through quality literature so they can “Go anywhere. Be anything.“