7 reasons to Read Poetry with children!
“ Poetry is at the heart of language. It should never be seen as just the
icing on the cake or used as a time filler. It is the best way for children
to get the feel for the texture of language, its sounds rhythms and
shades of meaning. “ (Webster 1992, page 3 )
Yesterday my 4 years old girl took Child’s Book of Knowledge and read this poem:
Twilight at Sea
By Amelia Welby
The twilight hours, like birds, flew by,
As lightly and as free;
Ten thousand stars were in the sky,
Ten thousand on the sea;
For every wave, with dimpled face,
That leaped upon the air,
Had caught a star in its embrace
And held it trembling there.
I was amazed how much she liked and appreciated it, and how curious she was to learn the words she did not know.
The truth is we were reading poetry with our children from their birth. They felt calmer as babies, when we rocked them to rhythm of the poem and they enjoyed that special one on one attention when mommy or daddy read them their poem together with bed-time story, usually with lots of animation and using fun body language.
Apart from simply being fun, reading poetry has many benefits for young child.
Here are some of these benefits I wanted to share and attest to:
1. Dynamic vocabulary building. Rhyming words help children to remember new words.
2. Developing sense of order and harmony. “Classic verse teaches children an enormous amount about order, measure, proportion, correspondence, balance, symmetry, agreement, temporal relation (tense), and contingent possibility (mood).” (Michael Knox Beran, “In Defense of Memorization” , City Journal, Summer 2004)
3. Learning the patterns of the language. When reading and memorizing poetry child unconsciously absorbs the rules and structure of the language. Learning poems increases vocabulary, syntactical abilities, grammatical capacities and other linguistic skills.
4. Developing clarity and sophistication of speech. Memorizing and reciting the poem aloud helps the child to experience speech and style of poetical language. Absorbing a poem’s vocabulary through memorization boosts the child’s likelihood of being able to utilize such lexical tools in their daily lives.
5. Learning about world cultures and community traditions (folk tales, international poetry)
6. Reading and learning poetry helps in developing pre-reading and reading skills in young children. Phonetic sounds found in rhyming poems are the building blocks of reading.
7. And in the words of Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis “Poetry is essential for children because it is “the best words in the best order.” The rhythm and rhymes can help children develop a love a language—and a love of reading. Once kids begin flexing their writing muscles, poetry can spark their creativity and let their imaginations soar!