First, one line, a fleeting thought
Then, a verse! I take my shot
Soon, a stanza—four whole lines
My words make a poem that shines!
While there is no shortage of children’s prose, finding poetry that is both accessible and meaningful for young readers is a bit more challenging. Often, kids grow up with a certain disregard for poetry and, come high school, don’t know what to make of it—simply because they were never exposed to the lengthy and beautiful tradition of writing poems.
Instead of springing Robert Frost on ninth graders and expecting them to instantly adapt to Shakespearean iambic pentameter, why not introduce children to poetry from a much younger age? We may not notice it, but poetry is everywhere. Why keep kids in the dark when they could discover the passionate world of rhyme, rhythm, and reality?
If you really think about it, we are surrounded by poems. That car jingle you just heard? A poem. Celebrating your cousin’s nuptials? The wedding emcee read a poem to the happy couple. Listening to the radio? Music is poetry. Even the song you used to memorize the periodic table of elements can be considered, in a way, poetry. The rhymes and rhythm of poems help you experience and remember what the writer is trying to convey.
So, again, why aren’t we giving children books full of poems to help them understand emotions and discover new experiences and learn to read between the lines and relate to kids across the world? Why aren’t we teaching them about rhymes and verses and intonation? I don’t expect elementary teachers to hold semester-long lectures on Macbeth or classical Chinese poems. But why not try children’s poetry collections like Recess in the Dark by Kalli Dakos?
Recess in the Dark is a unique collection of poems detailing how students live in the Canadian North from a child’s perspective. Teach kids to imagine something beyond their personal experiences with the help of Erin Mercer’s incredible illustrations!
Don’t miss Kalli’s next poetry collection, Our Farm in the City (coming 2021).