Our family loves to read poetry. We read all kinds of poetry. I like to have at least one poetry basket out for my three-year-old. We also have poetry books, we like to perform or recite poetry on our family fun nights and occasionally we will write poetry. The theme for our next Friday Family Fun Night is Michael Rosen, my children love his writing.
You will know Michael Rosen from We're Going on a Bear Hunt. He has also written books for older children and for adults. Our favourite Michael Rosen poetry book is A Great Big Cuddle: Poems For The Very Young!
I know poetry is fantastic for rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, and vocabulary but what I love most about A Great Big Cuddle is the word play. It sinks into your subconscious, when walking out in the rain today Otto and I started to make up our own poems using similar word play, it's fun and young children love it.
"Itty-bitty ⋅ Bat ⋅ Tittle-tattle ⋅ Tat
Shilly-shally ⋅ Shout ⋅ Dilly-dally ⋅ Out" - excerpt from Mr. Hobson Jobson Says:
Tap, tap, tap
Nap, nap, nap" - excerpt from Tippy-Tappy.
Our favourite poem is Lunchtime.
The poems vary in length and complexity, they are all humorous. Young children often can't memorise a whole poem but they may be able to remember one line or one stanza and be able to anticipate where it fits into the poem, like with Oh Dear.
Montessori families with young children should note there are some imaginative, fantasy type illustrations like (friendly) monsters, animals eating, dancing, etc. The poems however are relevant to young children.
Another poetry book that we really enjoy is Here's A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry - compiled by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters. Good poetry books for very young children are hard to find. This is a collection of around sixty poems for young children. Poets include A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh), and Margaret Wise Brown (Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny). The focus of Here's A Little Poem is the child's intense delight in daily experiences and routines. Take for example The Swing.
Here's A Little Poem is divided into four themes: Me, Myself and I, Who Lives in My House, I Go Outside, and Time for Bed. The poems are fun and comforting. Most of the poems are short and rhyming. For those, like me, who don't really like many traditional nursery rhymes, this provides lots of rhymes we can read or sing to young children.
There are two more poetry books that we use a lot. Both are by Nosy Crow and are anthologies selected by Fiona Waters. Both are in 'a poem a day' format. Both are heavy, substantial poetry books that look and feel exquisite. The first is I Am The Seed That Grew: A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year.
This contains one poem a day about nature. I love nature poems, poems that ignite the imagination while also educating our young children about the world around them. These anthologies are fantastic for exposing children to a wide range of poets, and poetry types. This is based on nature and seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. It doesn't mean that we can't enjoy it in the Southern Hemisphere, we can switch the dates or choose the poems differently, they don't need to be read in order.
Includes poems by Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and William Shakespeare.
The second poem a day anthology we read a lot is Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright!: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year .
"There are poems to make you think, poems to make you laugh, poems that you'll want to share and some that will stay with you forever." - Lousie Bolongaro, Head of Picture Books, Nosy Crow.
While there are some seasonal poems, this is more neutral in terms of seasons/hemispheres. Includes poems by Lewis Carroll, Margaret Wise Brown, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and William Blake.
These two anthologies are wonderful resources for children. They are beautiful.
Again, the poems vary greatly. All of the poems are uplifting and overwhelmingly positive.
My older chil(I would recommend for5-6yrs+) and are good for naturalists, environmentalists.
Two poetry books on our shelves for older children (from 5-6yrs+) are Poems from a Green and Blue Planet by Sabrina Mahfouz and All the Wild Wonders: Poems of Our Earth compiled by Wendy Cooling. Poems from a Green and Blue Planet doesn't have illustrations but it contains many lovely poems.
You might also like to read my previous article Poems & Stories to Love and Memorize - at Three Years+.