Children's Literature

Instructor: Chi-Fen Emily Chen, Ph.D. 陳其芬

Department of English, National Kaohsiung First University of Science and Technology, Taiwan


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Poetry for Children

 Please read Chapter 8 and Chapter 6: Mother Goose Books from Russell, D. L. (2009). Literature for children: a short introduction.

Teaching Poetry to Children

"Lovers of poetry are not born, but made through patient and careful nurturing."

 Russell (2005, p. 188)

Part A.  Children's Poetry Preferences

Part B.  Strategies of Teaching Poetry to Children

Part A.  Children's Poetry Preferences

According to Fisher & Natarella's (1982) and Terry's (1974) studies on children's poetry preferences, they found that

  • Most children preferred narrative poems over lyric poems.

  • Limericks were the favored poetic form; free verse and haiku were not well liked.

  • Children preferred poems that had pronounced sound patterns of all kinds, but especially enjoyed poems that rhymed.

  • Children preferred poems with regular, distinctive rhythm.

  • Children liked humorous poems, poems about animals, and poems about enjoyable familiar experiences.

(cited in Lynch-Brown, C. & Tomlinson, C. 2005. Essentials of Children’s Literature, 5th edition, p. 49)

Such studies, however, can be dangerous if we rely on them entirely to determine what poetry we will share with children. We should try to broaden children's experience by providing them with a wide variety of poetry, but these findings can be used as a good starting point to select poems for children who have little experience with poetry.

Part B.  Strategies of Teaching Poetry to Children

  1. Reading Poetry Aloud to Children

  • Poetry should be introduced first and frequently to children in an oral form. Most poetry is best read aloud. Moreover, children's oral language is the basis for their later acquisition of literacy.

  • Teachers need to practice reading the poems ahead of time and frequently. Keep in mind that poetry should be read for its meaning and enunciated words clearly. Pay attention to the poet's punctuation and slow down your normal reading pace to give full value to each sound.

  • Some poems need to be performed and dramatized. Using your voice to make special effects, such as variations of volume, pitch, and speech rate, and even a dramatic pause.

  • Brief encounters with one to three poems at a time are best. Too many poems in one sitting may overwhelm students or make the reading tedious.

  • After reading the poem, be sure to announce the name of the poet so that children discover the writers they especially enjoy.

  • Some poems warrant discussion. Children can take the opportunity to tell how the poem made them feel or what it make them think about.

  1. Choral Poetry

  • Choral poetry consists of interpreting and saying a poem together as a group activity. Children enjoy this way of experiencing poetry because they have a participatory role in the activity.

  • Short, humorous narrative poems are good first choices.

  • Options for reading a poem chorally include unison, two- or three-part, solo voices, cumulative buildup, and simultaneous voices.

  • Poetry selected and arranged for dramatic choral readings on a particular theme infuses an interesting variation into choral poetry.

  • Incorporating action, gestures, body movements, and finger plays can produce more interesting and enjoyable presentation.

  1. Learning to Write Poetry

  • Children need to be very familiar with poetry of many kinds before they should be expected to compose poems.

  • Teachers often start the writing of poetry as a collaborative effort. The class brainstorms for ideas and then composes the poem in groups or pairs.

  • Children's poetry follows no absolute rules; perfection of form should not be a goal. They should be reminded that poetry is a form of communication and that they should think of an idea, feeling, or event to write about in their poems.

  • Teachers can encourage children to compile personal and class anthologies of their own poems or their favorite poems.

  • Teachers can encourage children to model the works of professional poets by attempting imitation of a whole poem or of specific techniques.

  • Teachers can read aloud many poems of one poetic form, and then analyze the form to reveal the characteristics of its structure. See some poetry writing websites for children:

Poetry writing with poets from Scholastic.com

Fern's Poetry Club from PBS Kids

Poetry writing from CanTeach.ca.com

How to write poems from Poetry Zone

 

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