Are you intimidated about adding poetry into your home? You don’t have to be! Here I show you the importance of poetry so you can be motivated to add it to your family life.
I graduated with a major in English and have pretty much been obsessed with words my whole life. To this day, I read poetry in my free time and am always reading a book, whether it is a novel, biography or non-fiction. When I had kids, I wanted to give them a love of words as well so I’ve done a lot of research on the best children’s book (and poetry books). We have accumulated quite a collection. In another post I am going to share some of my favorite poetry books for kids to help you start your collection.
But before I dive in to my favorites, let’s talk about why poetry is so important. Why should I ready poetry to my kids? I really believe that poetry (at least until high school) should just be something to be enjoyed purely for pleasure. A regular dose of reading poetry to children will do many things. Here’s a short list.
Why is poetry important for kids?
- It is well known that rhyming helps children grow in phonological awareness. In fact, it’s “one of the best predictors of how easily a child will learn to read” according to Marie Rippel, owner of All About Reading Press. Reading poetry aloud will help improve children’s reading skills whether they haven’t read yet or are already reading.
- Poetry will grow a child’s vocabulary. I really think we underestimate how much language our children can handle. We lower the standard of words we give them because we think they won’t understand, not realizing that just the continual acquaintance with the words will teach them what the word means. As an adult, I don’t know every word, but if you kept putting that word into context for me, I will eventually learn what that word means. Same with kids.
- It brings beauty to their life. Don’t we want to have a continual feast of beauty for our kids? So that they appreciate the beauty of life, of art, of words? Reading poetry helps us to focus on the beautiful things of life instead of the negatives. It will train them to dwell on “whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Phil. 4:8).
- Poetry encourages creativity in our kids. It will help inspire them to play with words. And it may even inspire them to write a poem of their own. Some children enjoy drawing a picture of what they are hearing (or drawing picture of their own poem). Along the same veins, it will help teach them to express themselves in more creative ways.
- Poetry improves our mental skills. It takes brain power to understand poetry, and that’s a good thing. We can chew on the meaning and learn to articulate what we think the meaning is. Patrick J. Kriger also notices that “the same mental skills that we exercise in struggling to understand T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock “ — i.e., flexible thinking and the ability to ponder multiple meanings — also help us to navigate unpredictable events and make choices in our everyday lives.”
Poetry Can Be Intimidating, But it Doesn’t Have to Be
I think poetry is intimidating to parents for a number of reasons. First, because we feel we need to understand it before presenting it to our kids. Second, because we have a bad taste in our mouth for it from our school years. Constantly analyzing poetry instead of just appreciating it and enjoying it caused a lot of us to toss out the baby with the bathwater. And thirdly, because we don’t know how to go about presenting it to our kids.
But I’m here to tell you that it really is just as easy as picking up a children’s poetry book and reading it. That’s it. Don’t even feel the need to discuss the poem. Just read it. Enjoy the language. I think discussion of poetry will be a by-product of reading poetry regularly. It’ll just naturally happen, you won’t have to force it.
Tips for Getting Started Reading Poetry in the Home
- Read just one poem in the morning at breakfast or at the beginning of your day. You could also end your day this way. Pick one poetry book and slowly work you way through it, one poem at a time. Is that even sound too stressful? Just do once a week. Maybe it could be a Sunday morning tradition?
- Want to have some fun with it? Do a poetry tea time everyday. Get tea for yourself and all the kids (doesn’t have to be tea, it can just be milk or water). Now just read some poems! Be relaxed, have fun.
- Let the kids pick out poems to read. In our homeschool curriculum, A Gentle Feast, it has a poetry tea time once a week where the kids get to pick the poems to read. We have a part of our house dedicated to all the children’s poetry books I have accumulated and the kids get to go each pick out a book and choose which poems they want to read. They can’t even read them yet, but I read their selection. This helps them get excited and helps them have some ownership in reading poetry.
Hopefully through reading poetry to your children, you will come to love and appreciate it afresh. I really believe your whole family will benefit from a regular diet of poetry. And who knows? You may even find yourself buying a poetry book and reading it just for yourself!
Want to dive deeper into the importance of poetry?
Teaching Rhyming and It’s Importance: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/teach-rhyming/
The Mental Benefits of Poetry: https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/how-poetry-affects-human-brain.htm
A Gentle Feast: https://agentlefeast.com
What is Poetry Tea Time?: https://homeschoolon.com/poetry-teatime/