Poetry and the Young Child

If you are a dreamer, come in.  

If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...

If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire,

For we have some flax golden tales to spin.

Come in!

Come in!  - Shel Silverstein (Where The Sidewalk Ends)

As a child I was an avid poetry reader, specifically the fun and whimsical poems of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. I enjoyed the sing-songy nature of Silverstein’s words and the clever stories he would make up with limited phrase. As I grew older, my mother, wanting to encourage my interest in great literature would pay my brother and I, a dollar a poem we  memorized and could recite back to her. Looking back, I’m not sure if bribing us with money was the proper approach to get us to appreciate great poetry- but I can say that after many years, I can still recite many of the poems I memorized so long ago and still carry a deep fondness for Frost, Poe, Nash and many other poets because of my introduction to poetry as a child. With April being National Poetry Month, I felt it only right to provide some of my favorite children’s poetry books, links and other essentials so that you too may introduce poetry into the lives of young children (hopefully without the use of monetary bribes).  :)

Benefits of Poetry
Poetry is another expressive art form. For children it can open the mind and the soul and help young children to understand the world around them in a different way. Poems are a wonderful way to keep a child interested in stories and to introduce them to new and unique areas of language they may never hear anywhere else.  Language like juxtapositions, cadence, irony, figurative description, pattern, repetition and much more. 

Poetry also helps develop critical thinking skills in children of all ages. 

What Can You do While Reading Poetry with the Children?
When reading poems to children:
1) Dialogue with them,
2) Ask them open-ended questions about the poems you are reading. 
3) Help them develop their own story telling skills by asking them "what happens next?"

Poetry fills the spirit and encourages maximum creative expression. It can truly be a joy to bring poetry into the lives of young children.

For a list of websites and quick links to recommended books visit our Literacy and Books Section here!



Summer Langille, M.A, Early Childhood Education Specializing 0-8 Years

Summer has been working with children for almost 15 years. The oldest of four she’s always seen herself as a caregiver. She started off caring for children as a nanny for many years. She received her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University and has a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education specializing in birth to age eight from Long Beach State. She’s worked with infants all the way up to elementary aged children in center-based care, private school care, home-based care, back-up care and afterschool care. She was a lead teacher for an infant program and more recently a two year old/preschool program. She even had a brief stint as a brownie girl scout troop leader. She’s passionate about quality care for children and thinks the environment plays a large role in how a child learns effectively. She loves art, blocks, music, fairy gardens and picture books and wants all caregivers of children to know how important their job is to the children they care for. Summer is currently home with her baby, navigating this new role as Mama. She blogs about her family at www.summerplayshouse.com.