April is National Poetry Month and, if you haven’t already, now is the time to get kids involved. While there are tons of ways to celebrate, it’s all about finding the right thing for you (or your kids in this case). But don’t think poetry is just complicated Shakespearean sonnets or lofty ramblings by William Blake —Dr. Seuss made poetry lovers out of all of us from a very young age.
“Kids naturally play with language; they respond instinctively to the sounds and rhythms of words. Sound and rhythm are heightened in poetry, making it the perfect vehicle for this kind of engagement. In addition to building their vocabularies, this playfulness builds a sense of ownership and delight in language,” says Katherine Litwin, the Poetry Foundation’s library director.
Introducing kids to poetry they enjoy has many benefits, and some go beyond developing their love of language. “Poetry doesn’t always follow a linear form, so understanding it requires a more flexible kind of thinking. Each poem establishes its own unique order and rules, and understanding that order can translate into a greater ability to recognize and understand patterns of all kinds,” adds Katherine.
“Wayne the Stegosaurus,” a poem by U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt, adapted for Motionpoems by Aran Quinn and Jeffrey Dates of The Mill
Wondering where to start? Our favorite place is the Poetry Foundation’s YouTube channel, Ours Poetica (you can also find a smaller selection of videos on their website). Our top picks for your little ones? “Wayne the Stegosaurus,” “Poorly Dressed,” “To Catch a Fish” and for slightly older kids, “We Real Cool.”
Another fun option is to download the Poetry Foundation’s app and let kids play with the poem aggregator. Not only is it a great way to discover work from new writers, it’s fun for the whole family (and rather addictive!). And if you are looking for more educational resources, take a deep dive of into their teaching poetry online collection, there are helpful materials for kids aged 2+ as well as lots of advice and tips for remote learning — something many parents could probably benefit from right now.
Still looking for ways that you and your kids can celebrate National Poetry Month? Here are 30 more ideas to get you started.
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Casey Gillespie is the editor-in-chief of SPACES magazine, but she doesn’t only write about design. Fashion, beauty, art, culture, luxury and wellness are favorite topics as well. Her work has been featured in Elle, The Telegraph, Furthermore, London Evening Standard, Haute Living, Sphere, Belmond, Modern Luxury and more. And when she is not pounding it out on the keyboard, you’ll find her hiking the trails in Marin County with her husband and French bulldog, Henry, or drinking wine and eating cheese. But probably drinking wine and eating cheese.