Pass the Poetry, Please!
Why We Must Share Poetry With Our
Dr. Susan Knell
Pittsburg State University
“…nothing---no thing---can ring
and rage through hearts and minds
as does this genre of literature.”
---Lee Bennett Hopkins
“…most important, it can be a
source of love and hope that
children can carry with them the
rest of their lives.”
--Lee Bennett Hopkins
Emmy Fite I always started
with nursery rhymes to
introduce my children (my own,
those for whom I babysat, and
students I taught) to poetry. It's
a "gift" that stays with them
forever and can be passed
down to their own children. (I
feel the same way about books
that repeat a passage over &
over throughout its pages, or
songs that repeat refrains )
These rhymes, poems,
passages, and songs become
their "security blanket "
throughout life. :)
Chelsea Glynn I always tell my
students that poetry is a way to
attempt to capture those
moments and feelings that
churn deep inside of you.
Whether it's an incredibly happy
moment or one of despair,
poetry is an outlet to try to
funnel those feelings into words
that can connect to others. From
silly to sincere, there's a poem
for everyone to write, and the
beauty of poetry is that it's as
unique as the poet who penned
Ann Suzuki Foos They are
fun to read and it help young
readers with fluency!
Charlene Lingo They touch
feelings that otherwise would
Connie Taylor Peace They
love listening to the words of
songs. I use this to help them
understand the importance
voice, diction, and style. Then
we learn about about concise
and full of imagery they are.
Then we talk about how poetry
is meant to be read aloud. Then
I wonder if it is meant to be read
aloud, why is it on the NC State
Sherry Jopp Turnbull Poetry
helps students express the
imagery in their heads and
develop a love of the sounds
and fluency of language.
Dotty Wooley Have you
noticed that every president
chooses a poet to read
something profound to the
people in our great land ! I was
quite young, but I still remember
Robert Frost reading a poem at
John Kennedys swearing in.
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Promising Poet Award
Why Children May Learn To Dislike
• Teachers who don’t appreciate poetry tend to ignore
• Children are asked to memorize poetry
• Heavy-duty analyzing of a poem’s structure and
• Learning only certain poetry forms
• Making children write poetry during poetry units
How Teachers Can Build an
Appreciation for Poetry
• Find light, humorous verse from Silverstein,
Prelutsky, and others
• Use humorous poetry as a bridge to more
• Make poetry a part of everyday routines
• Read poems aloud regularly, just for fun
• Share poems that are personally delightful
Building a Poetry Collection
What I Know For Sure About Poetry
• Listening to and writing poems should be
pleasurable, not painful.
• The more a child hears a variety of poems
read and are immersed in it everyday, the
more appreciation they’ll have for it.
• Modeling is crucial. Children need to hear you read
poems you like. Only read aloud poems you love.
• Never read a poem without practice. Your voice
should give meaning to the poem.
• De-mystify a poem. Avoid line by line analysis.
• Poetry teaches kids to read.
• Poetry makes us laugh.
• Poetry is the ultimate genre.
• Poetry will give voice to the experiences of
Teachers have a responsibility to know
the world of children’s poetry. They
have the ability to turn ambivalence
into enthusiasm, thus building in
children a lifelong appreciation.
Tried and True Ways to
Incorporate Poetry Into Your
Make poetry a part of your daily routine: in
the morning, after lunch, or whenever you
choose. This should be a comfortable, easy
period during the day to look forward to.
* Have poetry read-in times. Provide a notebook for students to
sign up to read one of their favorite poems. This activity will be
successful only after you've been reading
poetry to them for a while. Model by signing up yourself and
sharing your favorite poems.
* Set up poetry anthologies on a table or low
shelf where children will have easy access
* Have a "Poet-tree" on your wall or door. Make or buy
a tree shape, then have students look up poems to be
written and illustrated and then hung on the tree. The
tree can be left up all year and you may ask students to
look for poems of certain themes, seasons, or certain
poets. Be sure to have students write down the poet's
name and also write down who illustrated the poem
(Which is them!). You can save the poems each time
you change them and at the end of the year give them
back to the students to compile into their own poetry
Create a "Poet of the month" using a bulletin board and a
tabletop display to highlight a particular poet each month. Tack
up biographical information and examples of his/her
work. Older students can research information or write to
publishers asking for any pictures and information that can be
sent. The tabletop would include anthologies or books of poetry
by the poet, recordings of the poems, and objects that might
relate to some of the poems.
* Take "Poetry walks" around the room. Have poems
tacked up on the wall around the classroom. Each day
take the class on a walk to visit a certain poem. Read
the poem to them, have them read with you or
individually. You may spend a few minutes discussing
elements of the poem or maybe a certain reading skill
the class can learn through them. But don't spend too
much time analyzing poetry. You want students to
learn to love poetry, not to hate it
* Have a "Poetry Break!" Ring a bell and have
everyone stop what they're doing while
you read a favorite poem or two. It gives a
needed break for everyone and is fun!
Provide a "Poetry jar". Place a clean glass jar on a table
in your poetry comer. Put a different object in the jar at
the beginning of each week. Then ask students to 'look
for poetry that mentions or describes the object Leave
a pencil and paper beside the jar for those who want to
sit, observe, and then create their own poems. Set
aside time at the end of the week for children to share
poems they have found or written.
Seasonal sonnets can be created each month be having students
find poems that are characteristic of that time of the year or
that feature holidays and events that will take place during the
month. Have students copy the poems onto a clean sheet of
paper, frame them with colorful construction paper, and display
on a classroom wall.
* Tie in poetry with other forms of
literature. After students have finished
reading a book, ask them to find a poem
that reflects the book's subject or theme.