From Nursery Rhymes To Sonnets: Why Poetry For Kids Is Important


October 20, 2019

poetry for kids

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From nursery rhymes to sonnets you studied 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.

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Poetry might not automatically come to mind when you think about books and kids but there are some really good reasons why poetry for kids helps them and engages them.

Why Poetry For Kids is Important

A First Introduction To Poetry

baby reading book

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

students in class tips for buying school books

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 perspective 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, elegies and odes are forms of lyric poetry.

poolbeg book of irish poetry

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

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech 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 humorous, surprising, sad, engaging and imaginative.

Metaphysical Poetry

These are original, striking, witty, images from all sources. Example of these are haikus, lyrical poems and limericks.

Narrative Poetry

This type of poetry tells stories, and there are 2 main types, Epics and Ballads. Check out these great examples of narrative poetry. Roald Dahl’s poems such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood and the Bad Wolf are fun narrative poems to share with your child.

Some Good Poetry Books To Get Started With

You can view the full range of poetry books on Tara Book Co here. But here are some by age to get started with.

Nursery Rhymes for ages 0 – 4

a sailor went to sea

A Sailor Went to Sea, Sea, Sea by Sarah Webb

nursery rhymes by margaret tarrant

Nursery Rhymes illustrated by Margaret Tarrant

Humourous 4 – 8

jelly boots smelly boots michael rosen

Jelly Boots Smelly Boots by Michael Rosen

watch out for sprouts

Watch Out For Sprouts by Simon Bartram

Poetry Collections for ages 8 – 12

poolbeg book of irish poetry

The Poolbeg Book of Irish Poetry for Children

owl and pussycat anthology

The Owl And The Pussycat Anthology

will you be my friend gabriel fitzmaurice

Will You Be My Friend? by Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Poetry for Older Children aged 12+

the works

The Works 1 and The Works 2

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

Over to you now. What was your favourite poem as a child? Any views on poetry for kids? Tell us about it in the comments below.

From nursery rhymes to sonnets why poetry for kids is important

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