How to encourage a love of poetry in children
Attends upon the motions of the winds
Embodied in the mystery of words
‘The Prelude’ by William Wordsworth
Poetry-lovers will tell you that poetry is one of the higher forms of literature, citing the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare and the Romantics, among countless others, as the most treasured writers of the English language. Indeed, poetry inspires a type of creativity and lyricism rarely found in other literary genres. Still, poetry is less widely read than novels or even drama. In honour of world poetry day, then, I want to share just how beneficial it can be to interest your child in poetry, as well as tips on how to do so in the first place.
Exposing children to poetry early can give them a head start when it comes to appreciating poetic rhythm and sounds. Hearing the lyricism of the lines will not only accustom your child to understanding poetry, which will prove helpful later down the line in the school years, but will also help to improve the fluency of their speech, which will eventually carry through into their writing.
Poetry is inherently built on imagery and emotion – as a literary form, then, it is a vital tool in encouraging your child’s creativity and empathy. Through poetry, one can read about any topic imaginable – from the siege of Troy to visions of nature, even to the innermost thoughts of a pig (incidentally, I would highly recommend ‘The Pig’ by Roald Dahl, and many of his other poems, to all children). Poetry unlocks other experiences, distant lands, and new worlds, and so too will unlock your child’s imagination.
So: how do you get your child interested in poetry to begin with?
Poetry’s inherent aurality is a great place to get started – capitalise on sounds and rhythms by reading poems aloud to your child, or by helping them to read themselves. Watching others recite poetry, particularly the authors of the poems themselves, will inspire an understanding and, hopefully, an appreciation, of how the writing originated. Poetry can even be a multimedia form, existing in songs and classical music, or even in art (the work of William Blake is a good example of the latter). Encouraging your child to appreciate poetry in its many forms is a good way to spark interest. And finally, the trick to reading poetry effectively is little and often. Everyone has a poem or two that really sticks with them, but rarely are they plucked from a long stint spent trawling through an anthology. Our favourite poems come to us organically, so don’t overload your child with lots of heavy verse in the hope they’ll become the next Shakespeare. Thoroughly reading a poem a day, or even a week, is a great place to start. Encourage them to re-read the poem and read it aloud. Maybe they will be inspired to draw a picture about the poem, or have a go at writing their own. Any way of getting a child enthusiastic about poetry can only be a good thing – so, which poem will you choose to celebrate World Poetry Day?
This post was written by Liberty Nichols, English & Humanities Tutor at Carfax Tutors