raising a poet
ways to spark a love of poetry in your child
y love for reading developed early, as did my love for writing. It began one night with a simple poem my older sister had written. It was a poem written in Spanish about a bird who had hurt one of its wings and could no longer fly.The bird fell from a building and died on the side walk of a busy street where no one took notice.That poem, although distressing, had great depth…and at the age of eight I was able to draw a distinct connection with the metaphors it was presenting.To me, the bird was a symbol of shattered dreams helplessly trying to gain some footing in a broken world. It was then that I realized symbols and metaphors were everywhere and something inside of me clicked. From that day forward, all I wanted to do was read and write more. I was around nine or ten years old when my teacher first introduced me to Shel Silverstine’s Where the Side Walk Ends, and after devouring it in just a few days and hungering for more, I quickly moved on to reading the works of Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and several sonnets by William Shakespeare. Each rhyme was like a song to me. Each verse so skillfully and purposefully placed. As an English major in college, I grew to love and appreciate several different genres, yet there was just something about poetry that really connected with me. If you have read this far, chances are poetry has somehow connected with you too.Who knows, perhaps you may be a talented poet yourself? If you are, the question is then, how do we transmit this love of poetry to 24
By Elizabeth M. Coreas
our children? How do we share this art with them in such a way that they can appreciate it, and perhaps even write it too? Well, you are in luck. Here are some suggestions I hope will help.
Introduce it. Poetry is not something most children are naturally drawn to. It cannot just be waved to from across the hall. It is sort of the elegant great aunt of genres that requires a formal introduction. For preschoolers, Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss are a fantastic start.The rhyming words found in books like The Cat in the Hat create a fun and appealing way for a young child to be engaged. Not only that, but rhyming books have also been known to help children develop their language and literacy skills by expanding their phonemic awareness. Now I know what you must be thinking.What about for older kids? The ones who hate English class, and are no longer interested in reading about roses being red and violets being blue. Encourage them to read poetry by modern day poets. A neat way to do this is with spoken word poetry, the art of oral story telling using dramatic performances to enhance your words.Take them to poetry slams and let them watch poet’s freestyle. By introducing them to the various forms of poetry out there, they will be able to see how the right play on words can have a momentous outcome.
Let them read your work. One of the beautiful things about poetry is that it is so versatile, anyone can do it. Allowing your child to read
Sarah and Sofia Coreas share an early love of poetry just like their mother.
something you wrote lets them know that if you can do it, they can too. Show them how you once wrote about being happy or sad and how you managed to describe those experiences using similes and metaphors. One line in a poem I wrote when I was twelve read: “My life is like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs…just when I think I reach the top, my world comes crashing down.” I think I wrote that after being punished by my parents for not cleaning my room.
Have fun making up songs. Have you ever noticed your ability to learn lyrics almost instantly after hearing a song for the first time? Not many people can do that, but poetic souls are usually very keen to picking up lyrics. If you have a child that picks up lyrics quickly and is constantly learning new songs, he or she may just share your poetic heart! If you think about it, all songs are pretty much poetry set to music. So why not have fun making up some songs together? After all, one match quickly lights another!