Every year in April, as the daffodils push up through the soil, the United States celebrates National Poetry Month. In honor of the month, we wanted to highlight National Poetry Month with young children. You and your little ones are already celebrating poetry, even though you might not know it. And by celebrating poetry, you are also promoting early literacy and a love of language in your child! Don’t believe us?
Have you ever read Goodnight Moon to your child? This is not just a story. It is also a poem. There is a brush and there is mush. There is a mouse and a small house. There are bears and there are chairs. There are socks and there are clocks, and of course there is a moon and a balloon. All of these objects come together so that you and your child are listening for the next rhyme to fit into the song of the story. That’s poetry!
Poetry can have the reputation of being very serious and intimidating, and for that reason many people don’t realize that they are unconsciously enjoying National Poetry Month with children every day! Do you sing songs with your child? Do you find yourself remembering the lines of children’s books? Think about the memorable lines that you remember from those stories. For example, this one from Madeline:
“In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.”
How about this one from The Little Blue Truck that goes,
“Now I see a lot depends on a helping hand from a few good friends!”
There’s a rhyme in these lines that makes it easy to remember, and that pulls you into the rhythm of the story.
Here’s one more example from The Very Hungry Caterpillar:
“In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf.”
Did you hear all those “L’s” in there? Wasn’t it fun to say? Don’t you want to say it again? That’s poetry, too!
There is a reason why this great alphabet remake, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and nursery rhymes like, “Hickory Dickory Dock” or “Humpty Dumpty” stick in our head. They have a very particular rhythm and they rhyme. This makes it easy to remember where the words fit in the story.
Ways to Pump Up the Poetry
This spring, we just wanted to celebrate the many ways that poetry is a part of our every day lives. The next time you and your child sit down to read a book that you’ve read a million times, pause before you say the last word of a sentence and see if your child can fill it in. The Peek-a Series by Marie Torres Cimarusti makes this the central activity of the stories.
Another way to celebrate National Poetry Month with young children is opening songs up for interpretation. Raffi’s version of “Down By The Bay” has endless opportunities for new inventive lyric choices. Here is an example of how Jenny over at the Oak Park Public Library does this:
Enjoy the spring and National Poetry Month with young children! If you are looking for other ideas to promote your child’s development, or if you have any questions about anything related to your young child, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
For Older Siblings:
The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards honor the legacy of Illinois’ own Gwendolyn Brooks: renowned poet, author, and the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner. Each and every one of the young poets who take part in this competition are a part of that legacy. The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Award page also lists events and the poetry of past award recipients.