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Poetry for Young People

November 17, 2017

Poetry can be just as beneficial as fiction/nonfiction books when it comes to learning how to read. Check out this series to start exploring poetry with your child!

Once a week I spend an hour of time with my “little sister” from the volunteer program “Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.” It has been a joy spending time with her and watching her grow academically through the years. This is especially so in the case of reading.

A few weeks ago we sat down in the school library together and spent time reading various books that she had picked out. At one point during our reading time the librarian handed us a book of poetry as a recommendation. I began to flip through the pages and asked my little sister whether she had ever read poetry before. I was so surprised to hear her say no.

Rhythm, Rhyme, and Repetition 

I get it, poetry can be pretty intimidating. It is understandable that the more abstract form of writing may not seem as welcoming as the fiction or nonfiction books sitting on the shelf. However, do not assume that poetry is any less beneficial for children on the road to learning how to read. The rhythm, rhyme, and repetition of poetry can help children in areas like their language, cognitive, and social development, as well as literacy development in general.

Series: Poetry for Young People

A fantastic series of children’s poetry books to begin exploring is called Poetry for Young People. Created by Sterling Publishing, Poetry for Young People takes poetry from some of the world’s best poets and transforms it into beautifully illustrated children’s books. They have books featuring poets like Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, and my personal favorite: Maya Angelou.

 To further emphasize the power of poetry, here is an excerpt of a Maya Angelou poem included in the book. This is the first stanza from “Still I Rise”, one of Angelou’s most famous works:

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise”

Note the rhythm and rhyme as you read. If you were to keep reading the poem you would also notice the repetition of the phrase “still I’ll rise.” That covers your three "R's" that are essential in literacy development, and not to mention that the message of the poem is incredibly powerful and positive for a young reader too.

Get Inspired!

I can still remember receiving my copy of Maya Angelou’s Poetry for Young People from my grandmother when I was ten years old, the same age my little sister is now.  I’m excited to share one of my favorite collections of poetry with her, and I hope that you are now inspired to pick up a copy of Poetry for Young People to share with a child in your life too. And of course, don’t worry about where to find one:  the library always has you covered.

Check out the selection below or the Nashville Public Library online catalog to see if there’s a copy at a branch near you. 

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