For National Poetry Month or any time of the year, read poetry daily to your kids. It doesn’t have to be poetry specifically written for kids either.
Unfortunately, my kids weren’t excited about the whole poem a day idea of mine. At all.
So first, I found poems they would like and second, found poems they would understand.
But even that was harder than I thought. Here’s what worked to get my kids engaged in poetry.
1. Poetry Books for Kids
I checked out a LOT of poetry books from my library’s poetry section to find poems my kids would enjoy. (Note: I recommend using books vs. the internet because there are fewer poems on the internet due to copyright issues.)
You can do this, too. Start with a subject or topic of interest such as animals or sports. Choose funny poems or poems whose language creates vivid images in your mind. Find your own favorites and share those, too.
It’s fun to sit with your kids and a stack of books. Have them skim or read the books and find what resonates with them.
NOTE: When you’re picking out anthologies, look to be sure the poets include females. There are tons of dated anthologies with poems written by only old white men poets. While they are all fine poets, there are so many amazing female poets that get neglected. It’s something to consider.
Some of my favorite poetry anthologies for kids include:
Poetry Speaks to Children with a CD of poems read by the poets, edited by Elise Paschen, illustrated by Judy Love, Wendy Rasmussen, and Paula Zinngrabe Wendland
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat, edited by Nikki Giovanni with a CD!!
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Not an anthology but also a favorite poem-loving book:
My favorite novel in verse about poetry is Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. AWE-mazing and might just get your kids writing poetry!
–> I highly recommend the books with CDs. Poetry is meant to be heard, not just read.
2. Memorize Favorite Poems or Phrases
Read to find poems that you really love.
Copy down the entire poem on a notecard or small piece of paper.
If the poem is particularly long, copy down with a favorite phrase. This worked MUCH better for my kids to start.
Then, try to memorize your poem or phrase.
It’s a blast to randomly talk about your frabjous day or how so much depends on a red wheelbarrow…
3. Poem in Your Pocket Book
I’m enjoying the Poem In Your Pocket For Young Poets book edited by Bruno Navasky. The poems include selections from both male and female poets, many of them I’m hadn’t read before. Because the poems are rich in sensory images, they’re ripe for illustration which is a fantastic way to get kids to think deeply about the meaning of the poem.
Tear out a poem for your kids to read each day. This is HARD stuff so check out how making illustrations can unlock the meaning of the poem. See my post on unlocking poetry with art.
3. Poetry Apps for Kids
I’m so happy about the Pocket Poetry app because my kids LOVE technology so tying in tech with poetry means poetry a chance of getting through.
Sure enough, since we downloaded the app, JJ has been checking the day’s poem and if she likes it, reading it to me. YEAH!
Poetry Apps for Kids:
These apps might just get your kids reading and writing poetry.
4. A Poem a Day
We’re using a small bucket for our poems of the day. Every day, I pick a poem to read to each child and let them keep it for the day. If they don’t like it, they return it to the bucket and get another.
JJ is writing down poems she likes from the app. Hooray!
Would this work for your family? Try it for a month like we are. April is a great time to do this because, as you know, it’s National Poetry Month.
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Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!