The Power of Poetry

The Power of Poetry, p.3

To best take advantage of poetry's benefits, make it a part of your child's daily life, says Kristine O'Connell George, the Agoura, CA-based author of several award-winning books of children's poetry, including Little Dog Poems, Old Elm Speaks, and the upcoming Book! She recommends five fun ways to weave poetry into your child's world.

1. Create a basket of poems. When you come across poems you like, jot them down on small pieces of paper and toss them into a pretty basket or box. The next time the kids are anxiously awaiting dinner, let them pick one poem for you to read to them.

2. Give poems as birthday-party favors. Help the birthday girl or boy choose special poems for particular friends: Paul Janeczko's collection, Very Best (Almost) Friends: Poems of Friendship, is a great place to look. Write the poem on colorful paper, have your child decorate it, roll it into a scroll, and tie it with a fancy ribbon.

3. Grow a poet-tree. Pick a tall, branchy houseplant at the local greenhouse (ficus trees work well) and decorate it with paper ornaments bearing verses that celebrate the wonders of the natural world. (Look for nature-themed poems in the Margaret Wise Brown collection, Mouse of My Heart.)

4. Tuck a poem into your child's lunchbox. Use food-oriented rhymes to inspire picky eaters -- George suggests Lee Bennett Hopkins's anthology, Yummy! Eating Through a Day. Or choose simple child-friendly verses, such as those found in Karla Kuskin's The Sky Is Always in the Sky, just to remind a child that you're thinking about her.

5. Get vocal. Tape-record favorite poems in your family's own voices -- after all, poetry is meant to be read aloud. The youngest children can chime in on the refrains or recite simple nursery rhymes; let older kids make up their own. Take the tape in the car for read-alongs on long trips, or send it to Grandma and Grandpa and ask them to return the favor!

Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the September 2001 issue of Child magazine.

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