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 LearningTip #43:
Help Children Find and Enjoy
The Poetic Side of Life

By Joyce Melton Pagés, Ed.D.
Educator, President of KidBibs

KidBibs' LearningTips
Virtual Bookstore!

For the convenience of our readers, KidBibs offers the following related resources through Amazon.com:

Kids' Magnetic Poetry Book and Creativity Kit including Word Tiles, Shapes, and Magnetic Board by Dave Kapell, Sally Steenland, and Judith Viorst

Dinosaur Dinner, With a Slice of Alligator Pie:  Favorite Poems by Dennis Lee

Night Lights and Pillow Fights Two:  The Box Set by Guy Gilchrist

The New Kid on the Block,   A Pizza the Size of the Sun, and A. Nonny Mouse Writes Again!  Poems by Jack Prelutsky

Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

If I Were in Charge of the World:  Poems for Children and Their Parents  by Judith Viorst

If You're Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand:  Poems About School by Kalli Dakos

My Black Me:  A Beginning Book of Black Poetry by Arnold Adoff

Neighborhood Odes by Gary Soto

I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor

The Circle of Thanks: Native American Poems and Songs of Thanksgiving by Joseph Bruchac

Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry by Ashley Bryan

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom

Joyful Noise:  Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

Meet Danitra Brown by Nikki Grimes

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes

Learning About Poetry

Writing a Book from the Inside Out by Ralph Fletcher (appropriate for 9- to 12-year-olds)

Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight by Bernice Cullinan, David Harrison, and Judy Lynch

Explore Poetry by Donald Graves

Awakening the Heart by George Heard

An invitation.  That's what poetry often is.  It is an invitation into the joys, sorrows, passions, experiences, and beliefs of the poet.   Through rhyme, rhythm, imagery, alliteration, metaphor, and many other literary devices, the poet---young or experienced---communicates what s/he believes and invites the reader to share his or her ideas. 

April is National Poetry Month.  On the web site of  FavoritePoem.org, Robert Pinsky, the 39th Poet Laureate of the United States wrote:

"If a poem is written well, it was written with the poet's voice and for a voice.  Reading a poem silently instead of saying a poem is like the difference between staring at sheet music and actually humming or playing the music on an instrument." 

In other words, poetry is meant to be said and heard--in the classroom, in the living room, in the car, everywhere!

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of classroom and family poetry opportunities.  It includes instructional strategies, family ideas, several types of poetry, links to poetry resources on the World Wide Web, and a list of popular children's poets and some of their books.

Types of Poetry

Instructional Strategies

Family Poetry Fun

Children's Poetry Sites

Popular Children's Poets and Some of Their Books

Other Poetry Resources

Types of Poetry

Poems take as many forms as the poet can imagine. In fact, young poets have many options to consider when expressing themselves.  They include:

Formula poems provide other opportunities for children to express themselves.  They may be written as a whole class, in small groups, or individually.  They include:

Biopoem  *  Geopoem  *  Acrostic Poem  *  Diamante 
Cinquain  *  Haiku



Line 1  Your first name
Line 2  Four traits that describe you
Line 3  Sibling of (or son/daughter of)
Line 4  Lover of... (3 items)
Line 5  Who feels... (3 items)
Line 6 Who needs... (3 items)
Line 7  Who gives... (3 items)
Line 8  Who fears... (3 items)
Line 9  Who would like to see... (3 items)
Line 10  Resident of (your city); (your road name)
Line 11  Your last name only



Line 1  City, state, country, or continent
Line 2  Four traits that describe the topic
Line 3  Home of (famous landmark or famous person)
Line 4  Lover of (food, sport, etc.)
Line 5  That feels..
Line 6  That needs...
Line 7  That gives...
Line 8  That fears...
Line 9  That would like to see...
Line 10  State, country, continent, etc.


Acrostic Poem

Words are arranged in a poem to disclose a hidden word or message that can be discerned by reading down the first letters of the poem's lines. Examples of children's acrostic poetry for the word, READING, are located on the web site of Sue Pandiani's third grade North Star Classroom.



A five-line unrhymed poem following this format:

Line 1    Two syllables
Line 2    Four syllables
Line 3    Six syllables
Line 4    Eight syllables
Line 5    Two syllables



Seven-lined unrhymed poem that appears in a diamond shape.

Line 1    Noun that is the subject of the poem
Line 2    Two adjectives describing the noun
Line 3    Three verbs:  -ing, -ed, -s words that relate to the subject
Line 4    Four nouns: two nouns relate to line 1 and two nouns relate to line 7
Line 5    Three verbs:  -ing, -ed, -s words that relate to the subject
Line 6    Two adjectives describing the noun in line 7
Line 7    Noun, contrasting or opposite of the noun in line 1

hot, sunny
swimming, playing, boating
popsicles, lemonade---cocoa, chili
sledding, ice skating, skiing
cold, windy



Haiku is a short unrhymed poem based on a single image.  Traditional Japanese haiku focused on nature.  These poems consist of 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 three-line pattern.


Poetry Sites for Teachers

Poetry Teachers

Poets.org Lesson Plans and Resources

Authors in Schools


Children's Poetry Web Sites



Children's Poetry

The Block:  Poems

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems


Dennis Lee

Dinosaur Dinner, With a Slice of Alligator Pie:  Favorite Poems


Jack Prelutsky

The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders

It's Raining Pigs and Noodles

My Parents Think I'm Sleeping

For Laughing Out Loud:  Poems to Tickle Your Funnybone

The New Kid on the Block, audio cassette

The Dragons are Singing Tonight, audio cassette

A Pizza the Size of the Sun

Something Big Has Been Here

A. Nonny Mouse Writes Again!  Poems


Shel Silverstein

Where the Sidewalk Ends

A Light in the Attic

The Giving Tree (Spanish edition also available)

Falling Up


Gary Soto

Neighborhood Odes

Canto Familiar


Judith Viorst

If I Were in Charge of the World:  Poems for Children and Their Parents

Sad Underwear and Other Complications:  More Poems for Children and Their Parents


Other Poetry Resources

The University of Toronto offers a database of 2,350 English poems by 368 poets in its Representative Poetry Online web site. This database is searchable by poet's name, title, and first line. It also includes a variety of other poetry resources.


Poetry delights and inspires.  It challenges and provokes thinking.  Indeed, poetry is an essential part of the language, literacy, and learning of children.   Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that poetry is often the invitation into literature and ideas that promotes more reading, writing, and thinking.  What could possibly be better?