Thursday, April 14, 2011

Children's Literacy Through Poetry

It is the job of poetry to clean up our word-clogged reality by creating silences around things. ~ Stephen Mallarme
April is Poetry Month in the USA. This month or any month would be a great time to borrow some poetry books from the library, or research some good poetry collections for kids. Lorraine Marwood mentioned some in her guest article here at The Book Chook, Encouraging Kids to Read and Write Poetry, and I want to share some of my own old favourites with you today.

Children's Literacy Through Poetry Books

One of the many wonderful things about poetry is its brevity. Maybe you have no time for a longer read-aloud, or your youngster is in a hurry to be off somewhere. Keep an anthology of poetry handy and dive into it with your child when you can. Those minutes really add up over days and weeks with children's literacy.
A poem takes a short while to peruse, but a lifetime to ponder. ~ Susan Stephenson
Another reason I love poetry is that it really does encourage us to slow down and reflect. So much communication in our lives nowadays takes place at light speed, but poetry can be savoured and relished, as we tease out meaning from its carefully chosen language.

When I was at school, my teachers had us learn poetry by heart. I am so grateful to them! I truly believe this is a great way to internalise wonderful rhyme, rhythm and language. There are many times when something happens in my life, and certain lines of poetry will pop into my head, perhaps helping me understand or comforting me, or giving some much-needed perspective. As a teacher, I had my students perform poems, and because they asked me to read some so often, we learnt them by heart too.

My bookshelves contain around 100 books of poetry. Here are a very few Book Chook favourites:

A Ute Picnic  Perfect for Australian kids, or kids who'd like to learn what it's like to BE an Australian kid.

Someone is Flying Balloons- Australian Poems for Children selected by Jill Heylen and Celia Jellett

Putrid Poems compiled by Jane Covernton

Hairy Tales and Nursery Crimes by Michael Rosen

Rhyme Stew by Roald Dahl

When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six by A.A.Milne

I Saw Esau edited by Iona and Peter Opie

Hist Whist collected by Dennis Saunders

Do you have any favourite children's poetry books? We'd love you to share them in comments.

If your kids find some favourite poems, why not make a Poe-Tree to display those poems, or maybe write some of your own? For even more fun with poetry, read on!

Children's Literacy Through Poems in Your Pocket

April 14 is this year's choice for celebrating Poem in Your Pocket Day in the USA. I've always been fascinated by this special day, and think it's a wonderful idea. Kids enjoy having a special paper in their pockets printed with a favourite verse, and many write their own original poems for the day. Is now a good time for your family to start this tradition?

The website,, has poems for you to download, print and tuck into your pocket. It also has ideas for holding your own Poem in Your Pocket "event":

Start a "poems for pockets" give-a-way in your school or workplace
Urge local businesses to offer discounts for those carrying poems
Post pocket-sized verses in public places
Start a street team to pass out poems in your community
Add a poem to your email footer
Post a poem on your blog or social networking page
Text a poem to friends
~ from

Here's a Book Chook favourite snippet from or your kids might like to explore poems from sites I mentioned in Online Inspiration for Young Poets.

ReadWriteThink has a classroom activity for Poem in Your Pocket Day that you might find useful.

Bookmaking With Kids has some delightful itsy-bitsy book projects, perfect for small pockets. Do take a look - I think your kids will enjoy these!

Which poem will I be adding to my pocket? Several. Thanks to Brenda Power of Choice Literacy I discovered the lovely poem Be Still in the World by Charles Ghigna. Thanks to Greg Pincus of Gottabook, I discovered A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer. In case I meet children, I have a couple of Australian animal poems from Silly Galah by Janeen Brian in my pocket.

If you're lucky enough to know a young poet, you might be interested in my article, Online Inspiration for Young Poets.

Do you have a favourite poem you'd like to carry in your pocket on April 14?

{This post is part of Poetry Friday held at Random Noodling.}
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