- Darcie Caswell
April is Poetry Month, the perfect time to share the beauty of poetry with a child. If you are an adult who enjoys poetry, you are probably already regularly reading poetry with the children in your life. If you are an adult who is either intimidated by poetry or simply doesn’t enjoy it, I urge you to take a look at poetry written for children. I often enjoy children’s poetry much more than that written for adults. I like the humor, wit, and silliness of children’s poetry, as well as the simplicity of the more serious poems.
Adults may sometimes think of poetry as being in a separate category of reading, but many children, especially young children, have not yet made the distinction between poetry and prose and only care about whether they like a book or not, no matter what form the writing takes.
There is an abundance of poetry written specifically for children, and I urge you to find some that your child will connect with, whether it is funny, rhyming poetry, free verse about animals, or stanzas about trucks. Incorporate poetry into your child's regular reading, not only in April, but all year long. It's easy to do, and you may find that you enjoy it as much as the children.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
In this picture book, young Daniel sees a sign advertising “Poetry in the Park” but doesn’t know what poetry is, so he asks his animal friends. By the end of the book, Daniel has several descriptions about what poetry is, and understands it enough to write a poem of his own to share.
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard
Individual poems about a variety of large vehicles: street sweeper, garbage truck, backhoe, dump truck, and more. The cheerful and charming rhymes describing the work of each truck and how useful they are will be thoroughly enjoyed by small fans of big machines.
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka
Don’t be fooled by the title; this is not a collection of poems about concrete. It is a collection of “concrete poems or shape poems.” Creative placement of words and individual letters on the page create a visual that works with the words of the poem to thoroughly convey the meaning of each work. Text of the poem about the Big Dipper is placed to form the outline of the constellation. The poem about hopscotch is read from bottom to top, as a person would progress through hopscotch, rather than top to bottom. Fun, sly, sometimes a puzzle to figure out.
Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems by Julie Paschkis
Short poems about animals, both exotic and domestic, presented in facing pages with English on one side and Spanish on the other. The animals splash, stretch, slither and swim as they come alive in both verse and lively illustrations.
Hypnotize a Tiger by Calef Brown
Silly rhymes about a mixed bag of subjects, from school to animals to mythical creatures. Often short and snappy, the rhythm and rhyme of these poems will have children memorizing them to repeat to friends and family to get a laugh.
Lullaby and Kisses Sweet selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
A selection of short, sweet poems for the youngest children, about things children know a lot about, such as breakfast, bath time, bedtime, and blocks. A charming introduction to poetry for toddlers, with simple illustrations they will enjoy examining while an adult reads the verse.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
Beginning March 20 with the first day of spring, poems titled by date explore changing seasons, from the first crocus blooming to buzzing summer bees, noisy fall leaves, and a quiet first snow of winter.
Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems by Nick Cannon
Entertainer Nick Cannon pens poems for children about their own lives, both real and imaginary, from helping a friend to brushing a tiger’s teeth. Filled with emotion, humor, and positive inspirational messages.
This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.