WHY POETRY? Building Literacy Skills with Poetry



Building Literacy Skills with Poetry


April is National Poetry Month. To get you started thinking about poetry and why it can be important for literacy and life, here are some thoughts. Some are from me, others from the resources listed below.


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 have onomatopoeia.

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 have repetition.

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 sidewalk. Say it out loud. Doesn’t it just beg to be said and heard? It shows words have style.


Poems can be silly and fun.

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


Poems can be serious and private 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 short.

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


Poems can help children with phonological awareness.

This is 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 images.

Visual imaging 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 literacy.

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


Resources Used


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 and poems to match kids’ interests and situations.



Early literacy: poetry and young children  from Examiner.com

The 3 Rs of Poetry from Early Literacy Connection


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





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