Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 40 – Poetry Made Simple. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a college graduate!
Poetry is one of those things that most people either love or feel like they don’t understand. Perhaps you fall under both of those categories! When it comes to teaching our children poetry, we might feel ill-equipped. Your bias likely comes from the way it was taught to you and you are loathed to make your children hate poetry. But I’m here to tell you that everyone can learn to enjoy poetry!
Charlotte Mason said: “Poetry is a criticism of life; so it is, both a criticism and an inspiration; and most of us carry in our minds tags of verse which shape our conduct more than we know.”
I’m going to give you a very simple technique, a challenge really – it’s so easy it will work with just about every homeschool method. Just read a poem aloud each day. That’s it. Super simple!
Choose a book of poetry and read a poem every morning. Don’t worry about teaching the poems. That isn’t necessary right now. Just read them. Enjoy the way the words fit together, the rhythm and rhyme of the language. That’s it. It’s very simple really.
When you have gotten into a good habit of reading poetry, then you can expand on it. You can then choose one poet to study and read their work. I stick to the poem-a-day method but just focus on one poet’s work. You can read about their lives as you enjoy their poetry. This helps to give your children a feel for their style.
When your child is a confident reader, you can have poetry readings. Have them choose a poem once or twice a week to read to you. Poetry makes for fantastic memory work! You can choose a poem to have them memorize and practice daily until they know it by heart. Then they can recite it for their friends and family. These are both great ways to build public speaking skills!
I know some people like to do the whole poetry tea-time thing, but for me that overcomplicates things. I want to make this super easy. You don’t need to throw a whole party to enjoy poetry. We are trying to inspire our children, not Instagram. Just read a poem together each morning. It’s a fantastic way to start your homeschool day!
Here are some of my favorite poetry resources:
Growing up, my favorite book was A New Treasury of Children’s Poetry collected by Joanna Cole. I read this book cover to cover on a weekly basis for years. I’ve read my battered copy to my own children. This book introduced me to Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes and it contains some of my absolute favorite poems. It’s sadly out of print now, but there are other great collections that aren’t that you can enjoy. Or you can possibly find an older copy on e-Bay!
Poetry Speaks to Children is a fantastic collection that introduces a great range of poets and styles. One of the things I especially like about this book is that it comes with a CD so you can listen to the poems being read aloud, several by the poet! This is a great starting point if you are new to poetry. It’s a varied and fun collection that will help you to introduce your family to poetry, painlessly.
Words With Wings: A Treasury of African American Poetry and Art is a gorgeous collection. This book does double duty as poetry AND art appreciation. There is stunning artwork by Black artists that pairs with every poem. This is a great collection to pair alongside an American History curriculum!
A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms is a fun collection that gives you a poem to read for different forms. These are wonderful to help inspire your child to write their own poetry. You can read the poem, discuss the form, and then try your hand at writing a poem in that form!
When you are ready to delve into individual poets, you can’t go wrong with the Poetry for Young People series. There are many to choose from and give you a good feel for a poet’s style. I also really appreciate that they include a biography, so you can read a few paragraphs a day before reading their poetry. By the time you complete the book, you will have explored a bit about their life and read a good amount of their work.
My final recommendation is one for you, particularly if you are averse to poetry. It’s called Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder and I promise, it will help you to find the beauty in poetry again. Zapruder believes that poetry is for everyone and that it doesn’t need to be dissected, nor do we need to be made to feel like we cannot understand it. His book really helped me to find a love of poetry again, and even inspired me to pick up a pen and write my own poems. Something I hadn’t done since I was an angsty teenager!
Poetry doesn’t need to be complicated or challenging. It can just be a beautiful and simple way to begin or even end your homeschool day. I hope that I have inspired you to read poetry with your children. I challenge you to read a poem a day together. Of course, I can’t promise any miracles, but I can guarantee that you will find a new appreciation for poetry!
I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!
Until then, happy reading!
Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.