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How to Get Your Kids Into Poetry

As a parent, encouraging your kids to read and write poetry can be incredibly rewarding for both you and your little ones. Poetry is a great avenue for developing a kid’s vocabulary, creativity, emotional expression, and more. But a kid’s first introduction to poetry matters; by introducing them to fun, lighthearted poetry activities first, you can slowly build up an appreciation for the art form and all its complexities. To help you get started, here are some kid-friendly ideas for helping foster a lifelong love of poetry in your children.


1. Start Silly

Poets like Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, and Mother Goose are still popular with children for a reason: they’re silly! And kids love to laugh. When introducing your child to poetry, start with fun, lighthearted poems to catch their attention and keep them entertained. Poems like “Be Glad Your Nose is On Your Face” by Jack Prelutsky, which invites the reader to imagine their nose pasted in silly places around their body, or “Sick” by Shel Silverstein, with a surprising punchline, are great for this.


2. Read out loud together.

Rhythmic, rhyming poems are great for kids. Reading poems aloud with your kids helps them hear the musicality of language, and the sing-song quality can be soothing and satisfying to young ears. Plus, encouraging your kids to read these poems aloud to themselves can help them with their vocabulary and articulation. For poems that are especially fun to read aloud with children, try the nonsensical “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll or “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards. Bonus points if you read them theatrically, paired with physical movements and expressive voices.

3. Encourage your kids to practice simple poetry forms.

Once your kids are old enough to write, encourage them to try out simple, kid-friendly poetry forms. Some of the best introductory poetry forms for kids include:

  • “I am” poems: “I Am” poems are autobiographical poems, which often follow a specific template of prompts such as this one. This is a great form to help kids get to know themselves, learn to express themselves, and remember themselves at their current age when they’re older. 
  • Acrostic poems: In an acrostic poem, such as “Elizabeth” by Edgar Allen Poe, the first letter of each line forms a word, and that word is the subject of the poem. The simplicity and flexibility of acrostics make them one of the most popular forms for kids. 
  • Haikus: Haikus are 3-line poems where the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the last line is 5 syllables. Since they’re so short and can be written about any subject, they’re a good quick form to get kids thinking about poetry.


4. Create “found” poetry with magazines or magnetic poetry kits.

Childhood is a period of exploration and discovery. One way to make poetry an age-appropriate activity and nurture your child’s exploratory spirit is through found poetry. Similar to a scavenger hunt, found poetry is the process of taking words or phrases from other sources and rearranging them in different ways to form an entirely new poem. You can do this with magnetic poetry kits, recycled newspapers and magazines, or other texts, but no matter how you approach it, it’s a great way for your children to start thinking critically about words and their meaning-making possibilities. 


5. Pair poems with other activities and adventures. 

Poets don’t have to lock themselves inside, chained at their writing desks. Poetry can be an excuse to go outside and explore new things. To help your kids see poetry as an expansive activity, take them out on an adventure, such as a nature walk or camping trip, and encourage them to write a poem about their experience. One way to do this is to play the “I Spy” game and look for things that rhyme—trees and bees, roses and noses, sparrows and arrows—and try to write a poem using those words.


6. Follow their interests.

One of the best things about poetry is that you can find a poem on nearly any subject. Think about your child’s current hobbies, interests, and routines, and look for poems that you can pair with their everyday life. For example, if your kid likes bugs and other crawly creatures, they might like the poem “A Worm in My Pocket” by Jodee Samano. If they’re at the age where they’re still a bit scared of the dark, show them “Being Brave at Night” by Edgar Albert Guest. By choosing poems that are relevant and relatable to your child, you can help them see poetry as an essential part of their life. 

Looking for more inspiration to get your kids interested in poetry? Check out Five Fun Ways to Introduce Poetry to Kids or Sweet and Silly Kid-Friendly Poetry Collections.