Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month!

by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership

There was a young child homeschooled.
She found there were all different rules.
When she tried raising her hand
Her dog jumped up to land
Right onto homework – not cool!

Poetry can add humor and fun to your new family routines and safe ways of learning. Encouraging children to work on schoolwork when the grown-ups may be trying to work at home can be challenging. Poetry can be an enjoyable diversion and a way to stretch your kids’ imaginations.

April is National Poetry Month, so right now you can find many resources online. You’ll find books of poetry collections to buy or read online, authors reading their own poems, and ideas for writing poetry with kids.

Poems are a way to play with words. Some poems rhyme, others are verse, some have a rhythm, others are don’t at all. Poems can be funny and other poems can be serious. Try writing some poems with your children and see what you all create. Here are some standard forms, but all rules can be broken when it comes to poetry!

Limericks: Like the example above, limericks are made of 5 lines with a set rhythm scheme and are usually silly. The first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other and are longer. The third and fourth lines rhyme and are shorter. Limericks were made popular in the 19th century by Edward Lear. Look up some of his work online and say them out loud to catch the limerick beat, then try your own!

Haiku: This is a Japanese form of poetry that is made of just 3 lines. Typically the first and third lines have 5 syllables and the second line has 7 syllables. Haikus are often about nature or a moment in time. They don’t have to rhyme. Here is a “What am I ?” haiku from http://www.kidzone.ws: Green and speckled legs/Hop on logs and lily pads/Splash in cool water.

Acrostic: This poetry form creates a word puzzle. Take any word or phrase and write down the letters that spell it out vertically. Each letter will be the beginning of one line of the poem. Now brainstorm ideas that describe your word. An acrostic poem using the word POEM could be: Pencils are ready/ Open your mind /Everyone can do it/ Many words can work.

Free Verse: This is a great form if your child has an idea or a feeling and some words that describe it. Break up the words into groups of 2, 3, or 4 words per line and see how the emphasis of the words or meaning may change.

Find more resources for word play and poetry with children online. Family Reading Partnership is a community coalition that has joined forces to promote family reading. For examples of poems on their website visit www.familyreading.org/resources/ and look under Family Book and Reading Activities.

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It’s National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month in the US. Do you have a poem you remember and can recite? “Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle…” or “Twinkle, twinkle, little star…” Poems can bring us right back to the time when we first learned them and they are a way to hand down family traditions to our own children.

Poetry can take many forms. There are jump rope rhymes, European Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and African Talking Drum rhymes. There are Japanese haikus with short lines. There are silly limericks, serious verses and catchy songs. Read some poems together, or even write your own, and discover what types of poetry you and your child like best.

Poetry books have their own section in the library. Apart from the children’s picture books, books of poems are located in the children’s 811 shelves. Ask your librarian to show you the way there.

Rhythm and sound are important in poems. Many use rhyming words, but not all poems do. Here’s a poem that does both: “Mix a Pancake” from the book “Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young” collected by Jack Prelutsky. “Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan; Fry the pancake, toss the pancake–catch it if you can,” by Christina Rossetti.


Words in poems are like colorful strokes of a brush that paint pictures in our mind’s eye. Poems often describe moods, environments, colors, sounds, and textures. You can feel the heat and smell the earth in the words of the poem “Farmer” by Carole Boston Weatherford, from the book “In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers.” “A plot of weeds, an old grey mule. Hot sun and sweat on a bright Southern day. Strong, stern papa under a straw hat, plowing and planting his whole life away. His backbone is forged of African iron and red Georgia clay.”

Poems are an escape from the ordinary way of using language and introduce new vocabulary– words that aren’t used in common speech–with your child. From “Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems” by Lee Bennett Hopkins, here are the poems for two letters of the alphabet. Both introduce some advanced vocabulary. “O: Ornithologists. Teachers of flights and tweets and reasons for putting out suet.” “P: Pencils. Magical implements waiting for stories, poems… to pop out from head to lead.”

Poems are a way to pass on language from one generation to another. Do you remember the poem “Mud,” by Polly Chase Boyden? “Mud is very nice to feel, all squishy-squash between the toes! I’d rather wad in wiggly mud than smell a yellow rose! Nobody else but the rosebush knows how nice mud feels between the toes.”

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Filed under children's books, family reading, poetry