Depending on the age of the child, the word might draw a blank look, an unhappy expression, or a dark scowl!
But, if we do this right, from the beginning (and yes, it may be too late for some of us!), we can grow our children into poetry.
Young children naturally love the rhythms and word patterns of poetry — nursery rhymes, and books with phrases that repeat over and over again. If we matter-of-factly keep interesting and age-appropriate poetry before them as they grow older, they just might consider poetry one more form of literature that they enjoy reading.
Here are four ideas for keeping poetry “matter-of-fact”:
- Start young while the interest is high. Many books aimed at young children use a rhyming scheme. And they love it! This is also a good time to have them memorize a poem or two.
- Work through a poetry anthology as a family. Each day during family read-aloud just read one poem as an appetizer before the main course. If possible, group the poems by poet. There is a familiarity that develops this way.
- Add several well-known poems to your reading list. Keep it simple. After reading a poem your child can simply narrate what he read. Discussions will likely follow!
- The older student can cover one poem each day from a book of poetry by a particular poet.
Keep in mind the age-appropriateness of the poems you select. Nothing will turn off a young person quicker than a sonnet read too early!
At some point, you may want to incorporate poetry study. But first, simply have fun sharing poems you enjoy with your children.
Poems and Prayers for the Very Young by Martha Alexander
Poetry for the youngest includes favorites by Christina Rossetti, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Browning, and many others. Perfect for quiet-time reading.
Several very good options in the public domain:
- The Real Mother Goose illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
- Mother Goose illustrated by Kate Greenaway
- The Little Mother Goose illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
Perennial children’s favorite.
Pooh always waxes eloquent to the delight of the young and the old. Besides those poems scattered throughout the Winnie-the-Pooh series of books, his collection of poems can be found in When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six.
Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Farris
Copyrighted in 1957, this collection of poems has been a long-time favorite on homeschool shelves. Contains over 700 poems grouped by interest (family, play, pets, humor, patriotic poems, etc.). The index of authors in the back makes it easy to group the poems for reading by poet.
Required Poems for Reading and Memorizing
Forget the “required” part — simply enjoy this free little gem. Poems are arranged by author.
Poems Every Child Should Know edited by Mary E. Burt
Poems selected for their value. “Children should build for their future—and get, while they are children, what only the fresh imagination of the child can assimilate.” In the public domain.
Graded Poetry Readers Series
Free series that takes the child from Mother Goose and Edward Lear to Homer and Herbert.