There is a scourge on children's literature, and it is bad poetry -- sing-songy, not-quite-rhyming lines rife with an uneven number of syllables. But it doesn't have to be this way. The world is full of great verse -- A.A. Milne, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Edward Lear... You get the idea.
Sure, reading William Blakes' "The Tyger" might require a mental stretch from your kids (and maybe you, too) but that's a good thing! Plus, great poetry is simply fun to read!
Poetry (like its cousin, music) is ancient, which is probably why children have such a natural affinity for it. Still, it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are four:
- Read it Morning and Night: Try reading poetry before bedtime or while your child is eating breakfast. Those two times work really well for listening.
- Make it Available: Keep a poetry anthology on the dresser or in with the cookbooks. Adding poetry into your daily routine will make it, well, routine!
- Don't Overthink It: Don't feel like you must pair every poem with activities or discussions of new vocabulary words or anything "schoolish." Just read and enjoy them!
- Repeat: When reading a poem, go through it twice in a row if the kids allow it. This is especially important with the short poems.
To help you started on your good poetry adventure, here are three daffodil-ly poems to chew on.
Nursery Rhyme from The Little Mother Goose
Daffy-down-dilly has come up to town
In a fine petticoat and a green gown.
"Daffodowndilly" by A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour: "Winter is dead."
"I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud" by William Wordsworth
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed---and gazed---but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.