Plant the seeds of poetry and help your kids grow a love of rhymes, sonnets, ballads, and all forms of poetry. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. This year marks the 25th anniversary of this annual celebration.
It’s easy to help kids of any age become aware of or deepen their appreciation of this literary art form. Memorize a favorite poem, organize a virtual poetry reading for your friends, or visit a poetry landmark such as a poet’s former residence or a place of inspiration to poets like the Brooklyn Bridge.
For Teens and Older Children
Introducing your child to poetry can start at any age! Here are a few activities and resources to help your teen or older children become more familiar with poetry.
Visit the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 site: Designed for high school student to hear or read a poem every day of the school year, this is a great way to engage and encourage students to appreciate poetry. Encourage your teens to read poems aloud to you or each other. Ask what they did or didn’t like about a poem you read together.
Focus on specific themed-based poetry: The Library of Congress has materials devoted to certain themes, including immigration and migration, work and industry, and social change. Kids can sample poems from different themes and reflect on which theme interests them the most and why.
Start a poetry notebook: Encourage students to write poems of their own in different styles of poetry: rhymes, ballads, limericks, haikus, sonnets, or odes.
Go on a global exploration: EDSITEment explores poetry across the world in different cultures and lists various lessons and resources on poetry.
Go beyond Earth’s atmosphere to the stars: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has an entire activity, Planetary Poetry, to help students learn about and understand poetry using STEM and NASA resources.
For Younger Children
It’s never too early to introduce your baby, preschooler, or younger child to poetry. Make it a playful learning experience. Get ideas for celebrating poetry with younger children from the following resources.
Enjoy nursery rhymes together: Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early readers can appreciate nursery rhymes read aloud or recited to them. Toddlers, preschoolers, and Kindergarteners also can enjoy repeating a simple rhyme and practicing memorizing it. Try talking about rhyme and rhythm—beat out a rhythm to a poem on a toy drum or a drum made from recycled materials. Draw pictures of favorite nursery rhyme scenes.
Explore nature on a science and poetry walk and learn about haiku: Spring is a great time to investigate the wonders of your backyard, neighborhood parks, or a nearby state or national park. Then try some haiku, which typically focuses on the natural world.
Pick up a book of children’s poems: Visit your local public or school library and check out books of children’s poems. During National Poetry Month, the librarians may set up a special display to showcase a selection of their favorite poetry books. At home read the poems aloud to your kids. Early readers might be able to read the poems or parts of the poems aloud to you.
Be a poet: Ask your child to make up a poem of his or her own or some rhyming lines. Children who can write may write it out themselves. For younger children, write it down for them—capture their original creations and record the date. Invite them to illustrate their poems, too.