Benefits of Reading Poetry to Children

Once a child learns the love of language, doors open wide. Poetry is an important step. Reading aloud is something that feels normal and familiar.  Words become less intimidating and more like familiar friends. For even if the child does not understand the poem, she may find comfort or amusement in its cadence. There is much more to poetry than meets the eye.

Poetry is different. It celebrates language in a different format. Children relate to poetry in ways many adults may not understand. Rhyming is easy and fun for them to recite.  Poetry is an excellent introduction to the many different kinds of literature.  When it is done correctly with a child, they will love it for a life time.

Most parents expose their children to some form of poetry without even trying.  They find themselves making up little rhymes and jingles with their names and tend to offer nursery rhymes and finger plays. Most songs are considered a form a poetry. Many children’ s books have some splashes of poetry in them.

Denise Johnson is an assistant professor of reading education at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. She received her ED. D. in reading from the University of Memphis, Tennessee. In her workshops on children and poetry she teaches these benefits.

* Enables students to appreciate the sound and imagery of language
* Invites students to understand and view themselves and their world in new ways
* Enriches students lives as they discover words, sounds, and rhythm in unique and creative ways
* Intrigues students as it offers puzzles within puzzles
* Captures the essence of meaning in the sparest of language

These are all excellent reasons to keep poetry in the life of a child and read it often. When we think of some of the most popular books with the very young children they are poems. So most children learn a love for poetry early on. It should be simple to keep that interest alive with the   introduction of different kinds of poetry and poems that become more involved.

Michael Rosen, an English poet who writes mostly for children, tells us about rhythms.  His theory is that poems resonate in the body by reacting with our natural rhythms.  Humans have carcadian rhythms that set the body clock.  Heart beats and breathing rates can all be affected by simply reading or listening to poetry. Poetry makes a physical connection with the body.

Parents need to step up and remind the schools that they have given children a firm foundation of poetry and it needs to continue through their education. They should be reading poems, writing poems and learning about all the different kinds of poetry and nuances. It enriches life.