Poetry gives a child a tool for conveying emotions and pictures with words in a way prose falls short. With few words a person can create a world or an adventure, express emotions or feelings, and communicate desires or dreams, vividly. I have never been very good at writing poetry, but all of my children have amazed me with their ability to create wonderful poems.
There are many formats for poetry which enable even the feeblest of us to master a pretty good poem. Tanka, Cinquain, Limerick, and Haiku are simple formats that can be used to create wonderful poems. But the best way to enjoy poetry together when your children are young is to read it to them.
We started with nursery rhymes and short humorous poetry books. There are so many great books available for children chock-full of poetry. The kids liked Tommy De Paola’s Mother Goose and Shel Silverstein’s Falling Up when they were young, but as they grew they turned to longer works. Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll is a family favorite.
Initially, we used poetry at home to strengthen reading aloud and memorization skills. It also gave us an opportunity for presentation. The kids would recite for friends or at our annual home school talent night.
Later, it became an enjoyable activity for all of us. My husband, unbeknownst to me, had a plethora of poetry stored in his memory from his own childhood and would recite to the kids for fun. He made them laugh with the sillier ones. We all memorized the Jabberwocky and even performed it together – acting it out like a play.
Many famous classic works are actually poems written by great authors like Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Tennyson, etc. Poetry is dynamic and develops a depth of understanding that little else can bring about.
In high school all three of my children took a writing class which enhanced their poetry writing skills. They were encouraged to enter contests and won awards. My son had one of his poems published and my daughter won an award for one of her poems.
So my advice to you is to read and enjoy poetry with your family. I’ve included the Jabberwocky so you can begin today. Enjoy!