Why Poetry Matters
Do you like to read poetry, or maybe write it?
When I was a teenager I found that poetry helped me deal with my emotions and angst. If something scared me, I wrote a poem about it, if something angered me, I wrote a poem about it, if I had a crush on someone, I wrote a poem about it. Needless to say, during my teen years I wrote a lot of poetry!
And although poetry isn't for everyone, if we introduce it to children at a young age we can actually help them learn to read, develop memory and brain power, enjoy playing with words and give them an outlet to help understand, and express emotions.
Many nursery rhymes and children's stories are written in a poetic way because it has appeal to children. The sing-song manner of the story has a flow that helps a child figure out words and makes the story easy to remember so kids can repeat them on their own. This is a first step in the reading process because it associates the words with the story, and allows them to "read" on their own as a way to practice the concept of reading. Since poems are often shorter than a story it is less intimidating for a beginner reader to start with a poem.
Poetry can show kids how fun language can be and how writing can be a form of play, which then allows them to enjoy being part of poem reading and writing. When we play, learning is more fun, and easier too. Playing with poems can inspire this learning fun by showing kids how to give writing a beat.
Book recommendation: Little Chicken
This book is a re-imagining of the classic tale where a lie goes wrong. This rhyming version shows kids how a little lie can spread and cause more problems than it gains.
Because poetry is often written from a place of emotion it can help kids begin to understand emotions of others. Empathy is a great tool for social interactions, and can also be applied to helping them understand themselves. Getting inspiration from a picture, or an event, to write a poem means that there is some observation and discovery needed to find the words to create the poem. These observation and discovery skills are important tools to have in life for a variety of situations; tools that are important to help grow in kids.
Poetry is an art, and like everything creatively captured it is open to interpretation. Not all poems will connect, or be enjoyed. But that is yet another good skill to impart on children. First, that creativity is a personal appeal that they can discover for themselves. Secondly, everything in life creates different perspectives - that doesn't make them bad or good, it just gives us a chance to learn to decide what things we like, and what things we don't.
A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.” —Dylan Thomas
Poetry is a great way to help us remember things that are important. This is part of using mnemonics in our lives. Visit the blog post Mnemonics for more insight to how this works.