Poems for children are more important than you might think.
As well as being great fun to read with children, they stimulate the development of language skills and actually influence how easily and how well a child learns to read.
That's why I think it's so important for parents to read poems with their little ones and why I worry that this seems to be almost - almost - a thing of the past.
As a primary (elementary) school teacher, I see many children who start school without being read to and without any real experience of nursery rhymes - the simplest types of poems for children.
These children struggle to learn to read and so - very sadly - usually don't go on to enjoy the wonder of books and the world of imagination that reading opens up for us all.
So on these pages I discuss why it's important to read poetry with kids, which poems are good to read and how to get started.
I'll also share some short, kid-friendly poems suitable for reading to children from the time they're born right through to the school years.
Feel free to skip straight to one of these pages for more info:
Interestingly, educators and psychologists have known for a long time that babies seem to be born with an innate love of rhyme and of rhythmic language.
There's a theory that this is because the rhythm echoes the first sound they hear and associate with feelings of security and love - their mother's heartbeat. It's a difficult theory to prove but it does seem to make intuitive sense.
Whatever the reason, babies love hearing the language of poetry and rhyme and sharing poems with them from an early age actually helps them develop language.
Acquiring the language skills he needs to communicate in the world is one of the most important tasks of early childhood and the process begins on the day a baby is born. From his or her very first moments, your baby is listening to the sounds of the world around him.
As he grows, he’ll start to respond with sounds of his own and these sounds will eventually become recognisable words. The more language a baby or young child hears – and the greater the variety of language – the better his own language skills will be.
Reading nursery rhymes and poems to babies is important because it exposes a child to language he may not otherwise hear. Over time, listening to nursery rhymes and poetry adds to a child’s understanding of the world, builds phonological awareness, enriches the vocabulary and inspires the imagination.
That, in a nutshell, is why I've written these tips to help parents and carers introduce their little ones to poem for children.
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