There was a time in my life when I thought, “Poetry? Ugh,” but only because I fear what I do not know. High School English required that I learn the different types of poems and write poems accordingly. Reading poetry was a challenge for sure. Understanding some poets’ style required some creative thinking, something I didn’t seem to have then. I think I wanted to understand poetry, but it was mostly the image of poetry clubs with dimmed lighting, people wearing black clothes and sun glasses, and speaking in hushed groovy tones that appealed to me.
Then in college I took a creative writing class, again I was taken on a journey through poetry. I was still baffled by certain styles, but this time around I appreciated the challenge and embraced the opportunity to again try my hand at writing different types of poems. I must say, my favorite is still ballad.
It is my curiosity with poetry that has inspired this month’s article. I learned that in 1996, April was declared Poetry Month; so, let’s take a closer look at an often forgotten literary genre, poetry.
Rhythm and rhyming are essential beginning steps to achieving literacy. Integrating these steps begins in infancy, when simple rhythms and rhymes are introduced through song and board book. Something about having a new baby inspires wacky little rhymes and songs. I have found that whatever the age or reading level, children benefit significantly from the benefits of poetry.
Timothy V. Rasinski (2002) proclaimed that although integrating poetry into daily reading is a great way to promote fluency, it is often one of the most neglected aspects of literature. In 2007 the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat presented research about poetry that is well worth noting.
- Poetry awakens our senses
- Paying attention to the language and rhythm of poetry builds oral language skills
- Well-developed oral skills equals higher achievement in literacy skills
- Performing poetry, not just reading and writing it, supports literacy development
Poetry can help develop a child’s vocabulary through the introduction of new words. Memorizing poems is both beneficial and fun. Rasinski suggests that reading rate, efficiency, and fluency can be developed through repeated readings of particular text, especially poetry. Poems should be readable and intriguing. Additionally, poems should be performed to further nurture reading fluency. Performing poems requires the reader to practice and repeatedly read the poem.
Poetry has the potential for hitting high on the fun meter when integrated into daily life or through a yearly tradition. Here are just a few ideas for embracing poetry:
- April 18th is Poem in Your Pocket Day. It is a day set aside by the Academy of American Poets to encourage people of all ages to choose a favorite poem, or a new one, and carry it with you for the day, share it with others, or memorize it.
- Start a poetry reading group if your library or community doesn’t already have one.
- Organize a poetry party in the classroom. Rasinski recommends a full blown party reminiscent of an open night mic at a club, with a warm beverage and snack, dim lights, and finger snapping instead of clapping.
- Write a poem
- Buy a book of poems
- Pinterest has a plethora of poetry based ideas
- Check out a favorite author’s website, such as shelsilverstein.com for fun and games
So, what is your favorite poem or book of poems? I have always enjoyed the poems written by Shel Silverstein, particularly Sick and Boa Constrictor. Those are both fantastic poems to perform. Whether you dust off a book of poetry that has been sitting on your self or you buy a new book or even search the internet for a poem, take time this month to fall in love with poetry and bring it into your home.