Poetry is often overlooked when teaching children. Sure, the old nursery rhymes are great but true poetry should be learned at a young age. Most poetry is about global truths. Life, death, love and freedom are predominant. From the silly to the scary to the serious, poetry is something all children should be exposed to.
- Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky – A great poem for young children, the imaginative words and fast rhythm make this a great introductory poem.
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost- ‘Miles to go before I sleep’ may be one of the best known quotes of poetry ever used. Frost’s simple and yet beautiful poem is short and sweet; just the right size to memorize.
- The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost – Another poem by Frost, the tale of two roads may be lost on young minds, but they will appreciate it more as they get older and have difficult decisions to make.
- Sonnet 18: Shall I Compare Thee to a Summers Day by William Shakespeare – A short and sweet love poem; no child’s education would be complete without a mention of the Bard. The old English wording may confuse them at first, but some discussion on the subject matter will help them to grasp the idea.
- Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Emily Dickenson – A mournful poem, and yet one which would not frighten children with the imagery of death. The peaceful journey and calm manner described in the poem lend itself well to discussions of eternity and the hereafter.
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas – Another poem about death, this one is opposite to the gentle acceptance of Dickenson. ‘Rage against the dying of the light’ is a war cry to death, fighting against it with every ounce of power. The duality of these two poems should be compared to help children understand the different ways of dealing with difficult emotions.
- A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes – A very different type of poetry, filled with questions. Just like children, the poet has more questions than answers and this short poem compresses the struggle to find oneself into eleven short lines.
- Invictus by William Ernest Henley – The poem of independent spirit, the idea of being the ‘master of one’s fate’ is one that will ring strongly with children.
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou – The desire for freedom comes through clearly in this poem. Children will identify with feeling trapped in circumstances and wishing for something more.
- The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe – Too long of a poem to be memorized completely, The Raven is still a masterful work, well worth mentioning. A creepy, dark poem that’s best told in a dimly lit room at night, Poe’s work will have kids straining to hear the raven themselves.
These are but a few of the many, many classic poems that children should learn about. Some are more complex, other simpler, but these ten should be a good start. Whatever your child’s age, there is never a wrong time to discuss the importance and beauty of poetry.Taken From Full Time Nanny