WHY POETRY? Building Literacy Skills with Poetry

haven’t always enjoyed poetry. In fact, I’m still not a big fan of most poetry written
for adults. (Don’t tell my friend, Nancy, the poet!) It wasn’t until I started
reading poetry written for children that I developed an appreciation. Kids’ poetry is so much more direct and doesn’t leave you scratching
your head, wondering what it’s all about.


Poems feel good in
the mouth and mind
. The rhythm pulls us in. Think about how popular
rap music is and you’ll get a sense of how important rhythm is to the young. To
adults too, but we don’t always pay attention.

Poems can
I love onomatopoeia and so do kids. Words with onomatopoeia sound like what
they mean: cuckoo, meow, swoosh, hiss, thud (my personal favorite).

Poems often
Repetition is a great confidence builder as kids just
know what will come next. Reading confidence is a good thing!

Poems can
have alliteration.
Like seven slippery snakes slid along the
. Say it out loud. Doesn’t it just beg to be said and heard? It
shows words have style.

Poems can be
silly and
. Silly and fun are very good things. They open us up to
possibilities, like the wonders of reading.

Poems can be
serious and
in ways that feel right.
Kids going through hard times or changes can see how others view their
situations without being judged or overly in-their-face.

Poems can be
See below for tips for being social with poetry.

Poems can be
If you are a less than enthusiastic reader, short is good.

Poems can
help children with phonological awareness
– the ability to hear the sounds of language. Poems, especially rhymes
and nursery rhymes, help kids hear the similarities and differences in words.
Rhyme helps children understand that words that share common sounds often share
common letter sequences. Rhyme also helps children break words into smaller
parts and recognize smaller parts in words.

Poems can create visual
, which is important as children learn to read. Being able to
see the “pictures” made by poems can transfer to other reading, too.

Poems help
build cultural
. Nursery rhymes have been passed down from generation to
generation. It is a way to connect the past with the present.


poetry has a lot to offer us as we strive to create enthusiastic and capable
readers. Next week, I’ll have tips for how to use poetry with your kids.




What to Read When by Pam Allen

This is a
wonderful resource for books and ideas for how to use them for kids birth to
ten. There is a nice section of 50 emotional themes (adoption, bullying,
grandparents…) for helping find a book for your child’s situation.

How to Get Your Child
to Love Reading
by Esmé
Raji Codell

This is also
a wonderful resource for finding books to match kids’ interests and situations. 

Early literacy:
poetry and young children


The 3 Rs of

from Early Literacy Connection

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