I love to read poetry! Trying to uncover the poet’s theme and discovering the different types of figurative language used by the poet are just some of the reasons of why I enjoy this genre. To me, poetry is very much like an onion. Each reading of the poem requires the scholar to peel off another layer—only to discover more meaning and more questions to solve. However, writing poetry can be intimidating, especially if comparing one’s writing skills to poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. I have to wonder, How does one become our nation’s Poet Laureate? Each of these esteemed poets must have started somewhere; certainly, they explored different types of poetry such as haikus, a type of Japanese poetry, or experimented with a variety of rhyme schemes: couplets, triplets, and quatrains?

As parents, we want our children to value and gain insight from all genres of writing. Acquiring knowledge of both the history and culture found in poetry is another way to achieve a greater understanding of worldviews. I also believe students should personally experience the composition of poetry, which is the most simplified, condensed form of rhythmic, emotion-provoked writing. Now the final question is, How do we teach our children that writing poetry can be fun?

First, it is important to realize that writing poetry is developmental. Typically, most children, during their early elementary years, do not start off by writing poetry loaded with figurative language and complex meaning. Children first need to be immersed in literature, particularly books that encourage rhyme, rhythm, and new vocabulary.

Even though many question the true meaning behind nursery rhymes, these entertaining little poems are pleasing to every child’s ear. Their easy rhymes and foot-stomping rhythms make reading time more enjoyable. Some of these have even been put to catchy tunes. In fact, after reading these poems to my own children for the last twelve years, I find myself putting my own music to these Mother Goose rhymes. It is not unusual for me to start a nursery rhyme and stop in the middle, leaving one of my children to finish a line from the poem. If the child ends up putting in a different rhyming word, that just allows him or her to experiment more with the English language! We also do a lot of reading these poems aloud together, known as choral reading, which encourages children to hear how phrases are being said and definitely improves reading fluency.

Reading the works of other poets, such as Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss, will also develop a child’s ear for rhythm and rhyme. For those of you who have a designated homeschooling room, consider putting up a word wall. Any time an unfamiliar word emerges from reading, write that word on an index card, discuss the meaning, and brainstorm examples to connect this new word with your child’s vocabulary. Later, your children can use these words in their own poetry constructions.1

Example 1

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star                                   Sprinkle, Sprinkle, Little Drops
By Jane Taylor                                                          By Jake and Jonah Padgett

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,                                     Sprinkle, sprinkle, little drops,
How I wonder what you are.                                  How I wonder when you’ll plop.