Poetry Challenge for Kids

When I shared my list of culturally diverse poetry books earlier this week I issued a casual challenge for National Poetry Month (April). Today I’m issuing a more formal poetry challenge for kids to encourage you to share the joy of reading poems as a family.

Join the weekly poetry challenge for kids and parents. Perfect way to participate in National Poetry Month.

Don’t worry, though, I’m still keeping things simple (as is my usual M.O.). If you want to make sure you don’t miss each week’s poem, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

How the Poetry Challenge Works:

Every Friday I will share a different, classic poem. (See below for today’s selection.) Read this poem with your kids at least once a day during the week. You can read it at breakfast, at bedtime, on the bus, or whatever works with your schedule and family life. That’s it! Are you old hats at poetry? Check out the extension activity selections below.

FAQ: (Just kidding, since this is the first time I’ve ever mentioned the poetry challenge so none of these questions have been asked, yet, much less “frequently”)

What if I don’t like the poem? Choose a different poem. There is no rule that says you have to choose the poem I supply. After all, I am only choosing poems in the public domain, so I don’t get in copyright hot water. I’m also choosing short poems so no one feels overwhelmed and even poetry newbies can play along. Do you have a favorite poetry collection at home? By all means, pick a poem from that book each day.

Why do I have to read the same poem every day? I hope you won’t balk at reading the same poem 7 times in a row. You are probably aware that kids like to hear the same material repetitively. That’s because it’s good for their brains! Just think of all those Thomas the Train books you’ve read a gazillion times, and these poems are a million times better! (Not to mention shorter.) Listening to the same material over and over allows your kids (and you) to find new meanings.

How old do my kids have to be? At least one day old.

All I’m doing is reading a poem? Isn’t that a little, well… basic? I don’t think there’s anything basic about repetitive reading of poetry at all. Repetition unlocks understanding. However,  if you want to do more with the poem, by all means do so. Speaking of which…

Poetry Challenge Extension Activities

If you want to add a bit more meat to the challenge try out these ideas.

  • Memorize the poem
  • Read a bit about the poet (online or get a book from the library)
  • Discuss the structure, grammar and punctuation of the poem
  • Write a poem on the same topic
  • Read more of the poet’s work (since these are all public domain poets, you will find poems just with a little Google search)
  • Start a conversation about the poem’s topic
  • Build a spine poem on the same theme

This week’s poem

I’m starting off with a poem I loved when I was a kid because it described perfectly the happenings inside my brain. It’s by Robert Louis Stevenson, whose classic collection, A Child’s Garden of Verses (affiliate link) belongs on everyone’s shelf.

A Child's Thought poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. Join the poetry challenge.

If you’d like to print this out, I have a printer friendly copy here –> A Child’s Thought poem

I hope you follow along with the challenge. If you don’t already follow us on Facebook, I’d love for you to join our community over there. We will be checking in during National Poetry Month with more great poem selections.

Alternatively, for more poetry ideas follow my poetry Pinterest board.
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Poetry and Rhyme Books for Kids on Pinterest.

Let me help you find books for your kids and keep them (almost) effortlessly entertained. Receive a printable bookplate when you sign up for our Weekly-ish Newsletter.


  1. Jill says

    My boys (6 and 8) enjoyed this poem. I look forward to next week’s. (On a side note, I picked up several of your poetry recommendations for the library and the concrete poems in “A poke in the I” touched their funny bones with its bits of irony.)

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Comments like yours, make my day! Thank you for telling me that. I hope you continue to enjoy the poem each day until next week!

  2. Amy says

    Just want to say thank you for this idea, along with all of your other great posts. You have enriched my family’s life in many ways.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      It’s funny, because I’ve never been really into poetry either (despite loving literature and theater) but decided to make a greater effort when it comes to my kids. I’m not all the way there yet, but I’m getting there!

  3. says

    I drove myself crazy trying to find this in A Child’s Garden of Verses (the only book in which I indulged by buying multiple copies, all with different illustrators), only to realize you never said it was actually in there!! Nonetheless, it has several similar poems with the same theme. Needless to say, I love them all.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      Oh my goodness, I’m sorry! I found it in a general anthology that includes poems by different poets. “Poems and Rhymes” published by Anness. I don’t like the illustrations in this one, but I found it at the library.

  4. Leana S says

    I’m doing the poetry reading challenge with my 4 year old son. We started the poem by E. Dickinson, but this morning he asked me to read him A Child’s Thought. I was busy preparing breakfast and asked him to wait a second. Before I knew it he was “reading” a poem to himself! My jaw dropped to the floor and I held my breath through the whole poem. I haven’t tried to memorize the poem with him we would just read it almost every day, sometimes a couple of times a day. I know he has a great memory and he is learning to read, so it was probably a mix of both, but in that moment I was amazed and proud of him, I also see the benefits of reading poetry together every day and how fun and thought-provoking it can be.

    Since I’m writing here, the first time I read him “A Word” he just sat in silence and then slowly said: “O-o-o-kay” as in “I don’t know what you’ve just read.” But then he wanted to read it again and we talked about it.

    Thank you for putting all these ideas together to help me have more fun reading with my children.

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      That is so wonderful! I noticed my kids easily (more so than I did!) memorized the poems. The Dickinson and Stevenson poems are so different, I’m not surprised at his reaction! :) Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how it is going for you!

    • Erica MomandKiddo says

      We love Double Happiness! Spoiler: It’s going to be on my next favorite picture books of the year post.

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