Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
As a creative writer and lover of literature, I always turn to the written word for inspiration, comfort and to get my fill of art. Sometimes I will come upon a story that will change the way I think about life, or a character that will inspire me to step out of my comfort zone. I’m an avid reader, mostly of literary fiction, because I can’t get away from stories–so much so that I have been writing short fiction myself for six years. When I think about literature and the huge impact it’s had on my life, I can’t help but think back to the moment when I was introduced to it. It all started with poetry.
The first time I read Romantic poet William Wordsworth’s poetry, it literally took my breath away. His ability to put what he sees and feels into words is genius. He writes a lot about nature and our connection to it; he describes how we can turn to nature in times of trouble. Nature moves him like nothing else in the world can.
These days we have piles of bestselling novels on our nightstands and we read popular and classic storybooks to our kids before they sleep, but somehow poetry gets pushed aside. In honor of National Poetry Month, let us bring ourselves and our children back to the building blocks of literature: poetry!
It’s important to encourage ourselves and the rest of our family to take the time to read poetry, to instill in ourselves and our loved ones an affection for the written word. Poetry stimulates our senses because it highlights sensory details and images. The focus is not on the plot or character development, but rather on the words themselves. Each word evokes an emotion and activates the five senses of touching, hearing, seeing, smelling, and tasting, transporting the reader to different times in their life, and triggering specific memories. Poetry teaches us to slow our reading in order to absorb and understand each detail or image that the poet is trying to convey. Reading poetry should be an essential part of every child’s education because it promotes reading out loud, careful enunciation and reading comprehension. It also helps adults slow down and appreciate life’s beauty. Plus, kids love poetry’s rhymes and rhythms!
As the building block of literature, poetry should be included in children’s school curriculum and home activities to sharpen their minds and push them towards using their imagination. This is important for children’s development, no matter how young they are.
Here are some authors and children’s poetry books that I recommend:
Shel Silverstein: Some of my favorite collections by this author are Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back, and A Light in the Attic.
Jack Prelutsky: I read “A Pizza the Size of the Sun” over and over again as a child! He has so many great poems!
Mary Ann Hoberman: Her newest collection of poetry, entitled Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart was just published. It encourages children to learn poems by heart and say them aloud. It is part of the “I’ll Read to You, You Read to Me” series.
Encourage your kids to put these on their wish lists for their birthdays and other holidays. Bring poetry into your family life and activities, and watch your family’s and your own imaginations take flight–one word at a time!