Several weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of including nursery rhymes when reading to young children. Along those same lines, introducing children to poetry at a young age can help foster a life-long love, not only of poetry, but also of words and reading. Incorporating poetry into your regular reading habits isn’t as daunting as it may sound. Many picture books are already written in rhyming verse, so chances are, your child already has some experience with it. Quite a few well-known poems have even been adapted into a picture book format. The Owl and the Pussycat and Casey at the Bat are two famous ones. Other popular adaptations include The Spider and the Fly, Wynken, Blynken and Nod and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
If you’re still unsure where to start, Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are perennial favorites. They’re smart, laugh-out-loud funny, and usually pretty short. Other well known authors and poets have books that have been written specifically for, or adapted for, children, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes, and Maya Angelou.
Reading poetry should be fun and enjoyable for both you and your child. Browse the poetry section of your library for more books. Remember, the goal isn’t to analyze it. Listen to and enjoy the words and imagery. Then, if you or child wants to, discuss it as you would any story you’ve just read.