Having strong English skills is a crucial part of your child’s development. Although, understandably, a lot of focus is given to English language learning during a child’s early years, there are certain aspects of the English Fcurriculum that can often go overlooked.

One of those areas is the realm of poetry and prose. Whether it’s due to the fact that poetry is often misunderstood, mistakenly perceived as boring, or simply not allocated enough teaching time in a curriculum, much more emphasis is placed on reading and learning from longer narrative fiction or non-fiction works.

However, poetry has a lot to offer when it comes to learning the English language. Below outlines some of those benefits and suggests some great works that you can use to increase your child’s awareness, feelings for, and appreciation of poetry.

A chalkboard with "new skills" written on it. Poetry for kids is just one way to improve English language skills.
Poems for kids can teach children new skills when it comes to language learning. (Image: CC0 1.0, geralt, Pixabay)

Poetry Books For Kids

Poetry books can be a fantastic way to introduce children to the world of poetry and illustration. This is because poetry books provide a collection of different poems for children that readers can explore and learn from.

What’s more, when it comes to teaching children about poetry, the more poems you can expose your child to and read aloud to them, the better!

This is because poetry as a whole can bring a wide range of literary benefits to a child. For example:

  • Poetry books can be a wonderful way to develop a child’s reading and writing skills, even from an early age;
  • Poetry helps children understand grammatical rules that form the English language, helping them learn how to write; and
  • Poems tend to take less time to read compared to works of fiction or non-fiction, so they’re a great learning tool for kids who struggle to hold their interest in written works, such as a book of poems.

Given all the benefits that poetry can bring to a child’s English education, not least the improvement to their poetry writing skills, it’s worth making sure that you take the time to find poems that will most appeal to your child and resonate with them most, whether they are free verse poems, silly or nonsense poems, a haiku, or poems with a lot of rhyming words or alliteration.

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This is because, when a child is engaged with a poem and the story it is telling, they are more likely to pay attention to the poem in its entirety and get the most out of the poem’s pronunciation, syllables, sentence structure, and word order as possible.

As a result, when looking for poetry books, try to think about the types of poems your child would like, whether they have a preferred poet or poet laureate, and whether they seem to enjoy shorter or longer poems. Also, think about whether you'd be happy to read the poem out loud.

By taking such considerations into account, you can choose a poetry book or piece of verse that will really appeal to your child, whether that’s a long poetry book by A.A. Milne or a short collection of beautifully written limericks.

Equally, if you’re struggling to find some inspiration when looking for new poems or famous poems, or want to know which poetry books would be suitable for your child, you can always reach out to your child’s preschool or primary school teacher for their hints and tips on what poetic books could appeal.

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Additionally, you could ask an English tutor on sites such as Superprof for their input. Superprof has a wide range of tutors that specialise in a range of subjects, including English. This means that if you’re looking for an English specialist that has experience teaching young children about literature and poetry, a search on Superprof should match you with a relevant tutor.

For some initial ideas of poetry books you could read with your child, however, try the following:

  • The Complete Poems of Winnie-The-Poo by A.A. Milne
  • Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl; or
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

Once you’ve gone through an initial selection of books, you can then progress on to other poetry books, or maybe even move on to individual poems by a specific poet, such as the Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll.

An image of a grammar book. Grammar can be taught through poems for kids
Poems for kids can help develop a child's grammatical awareness. (Image: CC0 1.0, X posid, Public Domain Pictures)

Poems For Kids

While poetry books may be a great way to introduce kids to poetry and improve their literacy, it’s by no means the only way of doing so.

Indeed, if you’re not sure whether your child will love poetry, or are looking to start introducing them to a range of poems, then sometimes it may be better to just read one or two individual poems or tales with your child, rather than have them progress through a whole book, which some children may find overwhelming.

When it comes to finding individual poems that your child might enjoy, there are a few ways you can help pick out a suitable selection:

  • Think about whether your child enjoys particular types of poems, whether that’s funny poems, short poems, a sonnet or two, a limerick, or haiku poems;
  • Take into account whether your child would enjoy poems about a particular subject, such as dinosaurs; or
  • Consider whether your child would respond well to particularly famous poems crafted by renowned poets.

When it comes to poetry for kids, it may be good to read your child works such as:

  • Macavity, the Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot;
  • The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear; and
  • Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne

Naturally, these poems are famous for a reason, and they are often engaging, well-written, and tell an interesting story. What’s more, you may have read some of these poems when you were young yourself, which means that there should be an added incentive to endear your child to the poem when you do recite it to them.

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Alternatively, if your child has shown a preference for particular types of poems, such as funny poems, then some good poems to try could include The Dentist and the Crocodile by Roald Dahl or Mrs Mitchell’s Underwear by Dennis Lee.

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Of course, if you’re looking for more inspiration for other poems suitable for children, then you could also reach out to a Superprof English tutor for their advice on which poems would best suit your child’s needs and help develop their English skills.

A barn owl. The owl and the pussycat is a famous nursery rhyme by Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussycat is one of the most famous nursery rhymes for kids. (Image: CC0 1.0, jeanvdmeulen, Pixabay)

Nursery Rhymes For Kids

As an alternative to poems, one great way to help develop your child’s listening skills is through the use of nursery rhymes.

Typically sung to young children, nursery rhymes are a great way to promote English language learning and the art of wordplay, while also encouraging social cohesion by singing nursery rhymes as a group, whether that’s as a family, or in a group at preschool.

Nursery rhymes were a common feature of many of our childhoods and for good reason. Nursery rhymes have been around for a very long time, with some even going back as far as the 13th century. Of course, there are some more modern nursery rhymes that have become popular over the past century or so, but the most common and popular nursery rhymes were generally written between the 16th and 18th century.

As such, singing nursery rhymes can be a great way to share in a piece of musical and linguistic history, and it’s always a wonderful feeling to pass on knowledge of a nursery rhyme that you were sung as a child to your own kid.

Nursery rhymes also come with their own set of educational benefits for children. Although they still have the short length and unique sentence structure that many poems have, nursery rhymes also offer educational benefits through the repetition that is present in them.

Repetition can be a great way for children to remember specific words and is a fantastic way to build your child’s vocabulary.

If you’re looking for inspiration on which nursery rhymes would be good to sing to your children, then some of the most popular nursery rhymes are:

  • Baa, Baa, Black Sheep;
  • Ring A Ring O’Roses;
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat; and
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

You can also find many more popular nursery rhymes online through a quick google search, so there are plenty of opportunities to introduce your child to different nursery rhymes.

If you are looking for ways to improve your child’s English language skills, whether that’s their reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills, then it may be worthwhile reaching out to an English tutor at Superprof for some extra help. Superprof has tutors with experience in teaching young children who understand the learning needs of primary school age children and beyond.

Just enter your postcode and the subject you would like help with to be matched with local tutors in your area. So why not give it a try today?

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