When we read aloud with our children we naturally introduce fluency. To become fluent a reader each child needs to hear a variety of texts. If parents take the time to read poems not only are their children introduced to new text but begin to build an appreciation for the sound of poetry.
In 1966 the Academy of American Poets first created National Poetry Month. It is now held every April, and is a perfect excuse to read poetry. While schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrate poetry, as parents we can read poetry with our children. Demonstrating that various texts are read differently and perhaps finding a favorite family poem.
By Henry W. Longfellow
When the warm sun, that brings Seed-time and harvest, has returned again, 'Tis sweet to visit the still wood, where springs The first flower of the plain.
I love the season well, When forest glades are teeming with bright forms, Nor dark and many-folded clouds foretell The coming-on of storms.
From the earth's loosened mould The sapling draws its sustenance, and thrives; Though stricken to the heart with winter's cold, The drooping tree revives.
The softly-warbled song Comes from the pleasant woods, and colored wings Glance quick in the bright sun, that moves along The forest openings.
When the bright sunset fills The silver woods with light, the green slope throws Its shadows in the hollows of the hills, And wide the upland glows.
And when the eve is born, In the blue lake the sky, o'er-reaching far, Is hollowed out, and the moon dips her horn, And twinkles many a star.
Inverted in the tide, Stand the gray rocks, and trembling shadows throw, And the fair trees look over, side by side, And see themselves below.
Sweet April!--many a thought Is wedded unto thee, as hearts are wed; Nor shall they fail, till, to its autumn brought, Life's golden fruit is shed.
April is Poetry Month A good poem will have something you can identify with. For parents that might be a poem about raising children, a season or holiday. For children it might be a poem about video games or school lunch or recess. A good poem always makes you feel something.
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Many adults remember poems they learned as children for their entire life because poetry has auditory and memory power. Everyone remembers: "I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them. ..."
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The reason you remember has to do with the meter, the rhymes, and other tools from the poet’s bag of tricks. Poetry is intimate. A poem can say things that might never be said any other way. A poet can express love, disgust, elation, amusement, imagination or any other feelings in their heart, minds and souls.
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Imagine if your children became little poetry sponges. What would stick in their brains? What would be the result? Your child might have a bigger imagination, new vocabulary, new ideas, more fun reading; a lifelong addiction to books, possibly a desire to write themselves.
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Poetry is something we can share with our children. Poetry used to have a much bigger part in American life. Before the invention of radio, families talked in the evenings... They didn't play video games. They didn't text one another. They read books together. They read stories together. They read poems together.
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It's one thing for children to sit and read "Casey at the Bat" -by Ernest Thayer or “Battle Hymn of the Republic”- by Julia Ward Howe to themselves; It’s quite another thing to have their grandfather sit and read it to them.
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Children don't just read poetry once. They read it again and again. Try reading Kids Pick the Funniest Poems or Where the Sidewalk Ends or A Pizza the Size of the Sun or A Bad Case of the Giggles. And watch what they do. They won't sit down and read one poem; they'll read a poem and they'll smile.
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Then they'll turn the page and read another one, and it will make them laugh. They will keep on reading until they've finished the whole book. And then they will read that book again until you get them a different one to read. Give kids a good, funny book of poetry and they will read rather than watch TV or play video games. Put poetry in your children’s hands and you will make lifelong readers out of them.
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Engaging Children with Poetry The way to instill a love of poetry in kids is to engage them with poetry. You can't engage kids by bogging them down with a bunch of rules for counting syllables or analyzing form, content, and technique.
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Make it FUN! Share the funniest poems you can find with your children. Dress up. Act them out. Use a booming voice or a whisper or a creaky old voice or a French accent or whatever is appropriate for the poem you are sharing.
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Memorize and recite. Have children memorize their own favorite poems and recite them aloud a dinner. Laughter and applause will have them wanting to do it again and again. Celebrate holidays with poetry. Valentine's Day, April Fool's Day, Halloween, birthdays, etc.; they all make great days for sharing fun poems.
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Find a new favorite funny poet. Familiarize yourself not just with Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein but with Jack Prelutsky, Douglas Florian, Colin McNaughton, Jeff Moss, and others.
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Start with humorous poems that rhyme. The humor will hook your children and the rhythm of the rhyme helps with their reading.
Find poems that have definite parts where you and your child can take turns reading. For example, using Shel Silverstein's "The Meehoo with an Exactlywatt" (from A Light in the Attic)
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Lots of things are important for children. Good nutrition, with plenty of exercise. Learning to read, write, math, geography, science, and more. But if you want your children to not just learn to read and write, but to learn to love to read and write, bring poetry into their lives.
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Read them your favorite poems. Buy them a book. Take them to the library on Saturday. Make poetry a priority. Always be looking for a good poem. You can never be sure where a really good one will turn up.
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Find more poetry ideas in the April section of Learning at home. Learning at home can be purchased in print or eBook form through Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494917203