Maybe you’ve already been to the library a million times. You’re still reading with your kid every night and they’re doing some independent reading of their own, so you’re doing just fine, but you want to shake things up and challenge them a little more. Here’s an idea: Memorise a poem together.
Memorising and reciting poetry out loud is a great introduction to public speaking, it builds language skills and confidence, and it’s something they will carry with them through life, language arts teacher Erin Medeiros writes for Edutopia:
Poems contain mysteries and complexities that reveal themselves slowly — and sometimes even suddenly — over time. I often rehearse previously memorized poems to myself and marvel at their subtle surprises years after I first encountered them.
Plus, it can be a fun bonding experience. There’s a book called The Donut Chef that I used to read frequently to my son. It has a beautiful cadence and reads like a rhyming poem. Years later, whenever one of us eats a glazed doughnut, we can’t help but recite the ending, which has become an inside joke for us: “The doughnut chef, he’d never guessed; Of all the flavours he did test, that most folks love a glazed the best.”
You can start with a book of poetry (you can’t go wrong with Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends; “Sick” was one of my favourite poems as a kid) or find a poem online together that you both love. On Poetry4Kids.com, you can search poems by topic or year level, classic or funny. (Might I suggest “I Think My Dad is Dracula” by Kenn Nesbitt?) Poets.org also has a whole section for kids, as does the Poetry Foundation.
Once you’ve both memorised it, perform your poem for friends and family. And then, if you kid is feeling extra literary, encourage them to try writing one of their own.