Ready Set Go to Kindergarten

Poetry and Preschoolers...a Match Made In Heaven

Nicolle Bellmore Pierse - Friday, April 05, 2013

Early poetry is about the expression of love”-Morag Styles, Professor of Children’s Poetry, The University of Cambridge

Reading the simple quote above made my heart happy.  It reminded me of rocking my babies and rythmic chants to get them to sleep.  Did you know humans across cultures and languages do this very thing?  That is because rhythm and rhyme were among the earliest forms of communication via oral storytelling.  It seems we have lost some of that to television, video games and computers. 

However, April is National Poetry Month and the perfect time to celebrate the long history of oral language.  It is never too early to start reading and reciting poetry to children.  Children are naturally drawn to the rhythm and rhyme inherent in poetry.  In the process they are developing early literacy skills!  Poetry serves to expand vocabularies, introduce different themes and emotions, and stimulate imagination.  It also lays the foundation for the development of critical thinking as purpose is discussed. And, let’s face it…poems are fun!

I will admit that I am personally partial to Shel Silverstein.  His simple verses run the gamut from silly to inspiring but all reach the inner poet of a child.  This is one of my favorite verses by him:

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

The important thing is for us to get in the habit of reading poetry with children.  Start your day with a poem.  Plaster them on your walls.  Use them to transition kids to the next activity.  Just make them a part of life! 

Here are a few suggestions of poetry books to start building your poetry library:

  • The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes by Iona and Peter Opie
  • Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear
  • Talking Like the Rain by X.J. and Dorothy Kennedy
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shell Silverstein  
  • Father Fox's Pennyrhymes by Clyde Watson
  • The Fish Is Me!: Bathtime Rhymes by Neil Philip
  • Night Lights: 24 Poems to Sleep On by Denys Cazet
  • Tortillas Para Mama and Other Nursery Rhymes: Spanish and English by Margot C. Griego, Betsy L. Bucks, Sharon S. Gilbert and Laurel H. Kimball

Do you have a favorite poem?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

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