Happy World Poetry Day! Today is the perfect day to celebrate children's books for their exceptional rhythm and rhyme.
Reading children's books is a fun way for the whole family to honor the poem in one of its most playful forms. We are so excited to celebrate World Poetry Day with you because we know how important poetry is for all of us!
Beyond its importance and usefulness as a learning tool for kids, it's beautiful, magical, and has the power to evoke feelings, memories, and more. Poetry also offers a unique space to express yourself, whether reading or writing it. Though these messages sound like abstract topics to teach a child, they're really things that just come naturally over time, as long as you commit to a reading routine. All the more reason to continue reading with your child as much as possible!
Introducing children of any age (babies and toddlers included) to poetry is an exceptional way to help develop phonological awareness and encourage children to read with the fun sounds and rhythm. Reading poetry aloud to your children (captivating illustrations are must) will enchant them into learning repetition and rhyme. And remember, nursery rhymes are a wonderful place to start for babies and toddlers.
What's so important about phonological awareness?
Phonological awareness is the ability to learn and understand letters, words, and their correlating sounds. Since poems and children's books are designed to rhyme, blend different sounds together, incorporate repetition, and entertain children, they're a great tool to understanding language and communication. Chanting, singing, or simply hearing poems is an effective way to introduce children to language patterns and how language and text connect. A child will then organically learn to identify sounds and parts of words, making natural connections. Poetry allows children to play with language and explore the many forms of speech.
We have a few ideas and activities for you and your children to explore the power of poetry! The tips below are best for children ages six and up, but don't forget to share a rhythmic book or nursery rhyme with your babies and toddlers today. (Yes, even singing counts!)
Tips to hop on the poetry wave with your kids:
1. Check out our very own Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4Kids.com, a great resource for kids to explore a "funny poetry playground" and discover how fun poetry really is. You'll find a handy poetry thesaurus for reference (great for parents and teachers too), and tons of other great tools and lessons. Poetry4Kids is a helpful place to start for young boys and girls who may be reluctant toward reading and writing poetry.
2. See the poetry in things! For example, sing a favorite song with your little one and point out the fact that song lyrics are a form of poetry. Then write down the lyrics and explore the poem's structure, form, and perhaps repetitive nature. Or, use photographs to inspire poetry writing. Pull out old scrapbooks, family vacation photos, etc. and write down a line for what you see.
3. Take a poetry walk. Celebrate poetry by observing our beautiful world. Find a scenic or interesting location for a poetry outing where you can record various sensory images (an important part of poetry). Parks, museums, and historical spots produce creative results! You and your child can write down one line for each interesting happening, and at the end of the outing, put together your lines in a poem and see what fun you come up with! Be sure to display it on the fridge or bulletin board when you're done.
4. If you're a poetry enthusiast yourself, create a poem Mad Lib activity for you and your child to do together! Here's how: choose a poem that you especially love (and that's somewhat easy to understand for your child). Remove one or two words from each line, choosing words that represent a variety of parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.), print it out on a new piece of paper, and fill in the blanks with new words that correspond to the command. Have fun with it, be silly, change it up! Remind your child that they're indeed a poet. If you love poetry, this activity is as much for you as it is for your little one!
5. Pick out children's books that celebrate rhyme, rhythm, and repetition! This is pretty easy to do because most children's books are written to be read aloud together. However, there are certainly books that rhyme or flow more rhythmically at a more obvious pace. So, read aloud today and celebrate beloved children's stories for their sound, sense, and expression! (This activity is appropriate for all ages!)
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Happy World Read Aloud Day: Raise your child to be a lifelong reader and an eager learner by reading aloud to your child!
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
First and foremost, it's never too early to start reading aloud to your child, or even to the bump in your belly! Reading to your little one, or simply reading together, no matter your child's age, is one of the most organic ways to bond with your child.
Furthermore, reading aloud helps develop your child's literacy skills at a young age. From vocabulary to phonics to comprehension, storytelling, and interaction with the printed word, reading books to children is a powerful tool for any parent looking to instill an early love of reading and learning!
If your child is getting ready to enter preschool or kindergarten, reading aloud together is a great preparation for this big, exciting change in his or her life. By reading books and stories aloud as often as possible, you're already introducing them to the importance of reading and getting them ready to start on their amazing journey of education.
If you have a baby or children and you're still feeling a smidge nervous to read aloud to your child (yes, it's normal!), choose books with a natural rhythm or rhyme to them. Perhaps practice when you're alone if you think it would help, and make sure you put yourself in a comfortable situation. Despite any sort of nerves you may feel, your child will be delighted and enthralled by the sound of your voice, even if you stumble over words or mispronounce a character's name. Go for it! You'll get used to it and learn to love it, we promise!
Every Parent Needs to Hear Some Positive Reinforcement…
• Babies love, love, love the sound of your voice! They also love to look at colorful pictures. Reading a book with your baby in your lap is one of the easiest, and most natural, ways to bond.
• Even if you think your child is too old to be read aloud to, think again! Reading aloud is great for older kids who are just starting to read aloud at school as well as voice their opinions in class. Take turns reading chapter books aloud, or let your child read the chapter book to you. Your child is never too old to enjoy a good book read aloud. Even though they may fight it at first, fight back and read aloud anyway!
Before You Read
• Start by turning off all distractions. This includes phones, televisions, laptops, etc.
• Find a comfortable place to read—a special rocking chair, find a seat on your favorite comfy couch or chair, or make a nest by the fireplace. Find somewhere that you can call your special reading spot.
• Commit to a routine time (morning or evening) and do your best to fit in reading aloud whenever possible. Reading aloud for at least 15 minutes each day will really make a positive difference in your child's development, as well as enhance their willingness to learn and read as they grow.
• Before you start reading the book you or your child has picked out, ask your child what they think the book is about. Show them the cover, read about the author, and look at some of the pictures together. Let them observe the book's details before you start. Compare your hypotheses once you've finished the story!
While You Read
• Get into your reading character. Use the book's cues to dress up or dress down your voice as appropriate. It's important for your child to hear you reading with changes in your voice and at a varying pace.
• Remember to use the correct tone, volume, and animation as you see fit. Incorporate sounds if you feel so inclined! There's no reason to hold back! Read with confidence and expression! Reading in a funny, intense, or loud voice to accommodate the tone of the book will really help your child get into the story, and they'll love it!
• Make sure you read slowly enough so your child can still soak the story in and have enough time to process the pictures and artwork.
• Let your child hold the book and/or turn the pages. Urge your child to point out pictures they like or things they find interesting in the illustrations or words.
• Encourage your children to ask about the characters, pictures, or words. Or, if they're reluctant, ask them questions about the story. Take the time to discuss the story afterward by asking your child about certain parts of the books, especially if there is a prominent lesson or powerful message (in most cases there is!).
After You Read
• If you have time, scan the book before you and your child get together to read and see if you can find connections to your family's personal experiences. You can then discuss them after you've finish the story!
• If you end up reading a story your child is particularly familiar with or it's already one of their favorites, challenge your child to tell you the story and praise them for their retelling!
Reading stories aloud is such a productive and happy way to enjoy books on a personal level together. Happy World Read Aloud Day!