Have you ever read poetry aloud to children? How did they respond? Did they smile? Did they squeal? Were there questions? Were they bored? Did they wiggle in their chairs and stare at you with vacant eyes?
Well, it isn’t always easy to predict how children will respond to poetry. Michael Rosen – popular children’s poet and novelist – says that to arouse the interest of children, teachers must start reading poetry along with them and make these sessions as enjoyable as possible. Children seem naturally drawn to rhyme, rhythm and humour – all of which is often there in poetry. So why do they lose interest over time? Ask yourself what kind of poems children are being exposed to.
Often, as part of the school curriculum, children come across poems that they find hard to relate to. It’s important in these cases to guide them toward poems that will appeal to them, poems that they can have fun with.
Below are a few guidelines that will help you choose poems for young children. Choose poems that:
- are witty or goofy
- rhyme or have a good sense of rhythm
- have nonsense words
- have onomatopoeic words (words that mimic the sounds or actions they describe. eg. swish, flutter, whisper, etc)
- have repetition of words or sentences
- that evoke imagery
Below is a list of fun poetry books that will help you show children the wacky and witty side of poetry.
- Oluguti Toluguti: Indian Rhymes to Read and Recite by Sandhya Rao & Radhika (ages 3 to 5)
- Catch That Crocodile! by Anushka Ravishankar (ages 5 to 7)
- Miles of smiles by Bruce Lansky (ages 7 to 9)
- This Book Makes No Sense: Nonsense poems and Worse Edited by Michael Heyman (ages 9 to 12)
- Science Verse by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith (ages 12+)