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.
Don't worry, though, I'm still keeping things simple (as is my usual M.O.).
How the Poetry Challenge Works:
Every week features 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 (Tips: How to memorize poetry)
- 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 (Poetry writing ideas here!)
- 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.
If you'd like to print this out, I have a printer friendly copy here --> A Child's Thought poem
Here is the full poem if you want to go all out:
At seven, when I go to bed,
I find such pictures in my head:
Castles with dragons prowling round,
Gardens where magic fruits are found;
Fair ladies prisoned in a tower,
Or lost in an enchanted bower;
While gallant horsemen ride by streams
That border all this land of dreams
I find, so clearly in my head
At seven, when I go to bed.
At seven, when I wake again,
The magic land I seek in vain;
A chair stands where the castle frowned,
The carpet hides the garden ground,
No fairies trip across the floor,
Boots, and not horsemen, flank the door,
And where the blue streams rippling ran
Is now a bath and water-can;
I seek the magic land in vain
At seven, when I wake again.
The rest of the POETRY READING CHALLENGE:
Week 2: Emily Dickinson
Week 3: Edward Lear
Week 4: Christina Rossetti
Week 5: William Shakespeare
And try out the Poetry Writing Challenge!
My favorite books (affiliate links) with poems perfect for kids: