Why Poetry for Kids is so Important

From nursery rhymes to poetry at school, have you ever wondered why poetry is such a big part of children’s lives? In this article Patsy Lyons from Tara Book Company explains why poetry for kids is important and how it helps children learn about life.

Why Poetry?

A child’s first introduction to poetry is generally listening to the rhythm and rhyme of the nursery rhyme recited by Mum or Dad. This is often a child’s earliest memory and it’s one to be treasured.

The repetition of rhymes, riddles and songs nurture early development of language, sound and listening skills. It engages the child’s imagination and teaches the child that poetry can be expressive and fun.  Encourage your child to respond and participate in the rhyme, riddle or song.  Clap hands, dance, dream, say it together, fast, slow, share it, or keep it all to yourself.

Poetry at School

When a child starts school the teacher builds on the vocabulary fostered at home. Children are then introduced to a wider range of poetry, i.e. ballads, lyric, humorous etc.  Poetry can be described as a form of language, with a concentrated and often sparse choice of words that convey emotions through tone, punctuation and imagery. Poetry can be very powerful.

Poems can have several meanings and may need to be read a few times to get the deeper meaning. Reading it aloud can add to the understanding and pleasure. Children can learn a lot about life and people through poetry, poems can challenge their personal views and give them a broader prospective on the world around them.

While children sometimes find poetry pedantic, we all know a poem we learned off by heart at school, (even if it’s many years ago).  And who doesn’t remember “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “miles to go before I sleep.”

Types of Poetry

Let’s take a look at some of the different types of poetry available:

Lyric Poetry

The most common type of poetry, lyric poetry is a short poem expressing the poet’s personal thoughts or feelings. Sonnets, elegy and ode are forms of lyric. The Poolbeg Book of Irish Poetry for Children is a wonderful collection which includes some of our wonderful Irish poets, Padraic Pearse, WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Patrick Kavanagh

Concrete Poetry

This is where the layout of the poem tells you something about it, i.e. poem about a dog the words are shaped like a dog.  Love that Dog is one of my favourite books; it has all the essential elements.  It’s a story told in poem, as the story unfolds we find it’s humourous, surprising, sad, engaging and imaginative.

Metaphysical Poetry

Original, striking, witty, images from all sources.

Narrative Poetry

This type of poetry tells stories, and there are 2 main types: Epics and Ballads.

Some Good Poetry books to get started with

Nursery Rhymes 0 – 4
Michael Foreman’s Nursery Rhymes
Nursery Rhyme Treasury Hardback Usborne

Humourous 4 – 8
Smelly Jelly Smelly Fish by Michael Rosen
An Animal Alphabet by Christian Stevens
Worms Can’t Fly by Larry and Ashling O’Loughlin (father & daughter)

Collections 8 – 12
The Poolbeg Book of Irish Poetry for Children
Something beginning with P
Irish Poems for Young People

Older children 12+
Uncharted Voyage  Loretto Secondary School
Cloud Busting  by Malorie Blackman

Related: 20 Tips to Support a Reluctant Reader and What To Do if Your Child is an Avid Reader

taralogo06Tara Book Company is based in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway.

They are highly committed to fostering and encouraging a love of reading in children, and to supporting and promoting Irish authors and publishers.

Visit them online at or tel: (091) 777005

Do you have a favourite poem or poetry book that you like to share with your child?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

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This website was created by Jill Holtz and Michelle Davitt, both of whom are mothers of young children. Jill and Michelle decided to create this resource themselves, and launched in 2007.