When my son Emile was young he was really good at writing poetry. I think he liked reading poetry because they were short and sweet. As a boy of few words he could sometimes get a bit overwhelmed with writing but he found poems manageable.
Emile especially liked funny poems. His teachers used to say how much his poems amused them and he also loved reading Michael Rosen’s funny poems for kids. Books that make children laugh are great for encouraging them to read more. In its Kids And Family Reading Report, Scholastic found that 70% of children wanted to read books that made them laugh.
Children’s poetry is also a great way for them to communicate how they feel. In the National Literacy Trust’s first-ever survey on children’s poetry, 67% of kids and young people said that writing poetry was a way of expressing themselves.
Poetry and reading development
As my son Emile discovered, poetry can feel easier to manage than lots of words. One of the great things about reading poetry is that you don’t have to tackle a whole book. A poem can make learning to read less daunting and motivate children to keep going.
And that’s good news because there are lots of benefits of reading poetry. It can aid language development, build literacy skills, help children develop their memory and also encourage creativity. One particular reason why children should read poetry is it helps them develop their phonological awareness – how different words sound – which provides a solid foundation for reading.
Reading poetry aloud
Reading out loud is a great way to improve literacy – and there are some extra benefits of reading poetry aloud. When children voice the rhyme and rhythm of a poem it gets them used to different word sounds and introduces them to same-sounding words that have a different meaning. And because children’s poems like Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dr Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat are such fun to read aloud, children can naturally build their vocabulary without feeling pressured to learn.
I’d love to read Emile’s childhood poems again. As it’s World Poetry Day this month perhaps I’ll have a root around the loft to see if I can find any. Now that he’s 18 I’m not sure he’ll want to see them again – though who knows, it might inspire him to start writing poetry again. I’ll let you know!