The benefits of poetry for kids - (Children's garden of verses by Robert Louis Stevenson picture )

Literacy and the Benefits of Poetry

Let’s talk about the benefits of poetry and how it can help our kids become better readers, as well as, over all learners.

Poetry sometimes feels like a lost art, doesn’t it? Where it was once memorized, written, discussed, and accepted, it has now become antiquated and unappreciated.

While we could discuss the reason for this shift, I would like to turn our focus onto this great genre of literature and share with you some of the wonderful benefits of poetry.

So you can begin to incorporate it into our homeschools and family reading time and begin to reap these benefits as well.

First of all, let’s start at the beginning of poetry and talk about the important role that nursery rhymes play.

benefits-of-poetry (starting with nursery rhymes)

Poetry Starts With Nursery Rhymes

My freshman year of college I had to take an academic seminar class which was a how-to-do-college course. Most of it was common sense and should go without saying, like keep track of your assignments, do your homework, turn in your homework, go to class, and things of that nature. 

However, one of the most meaningful things I remember from that course, was a test we took to demonstrate our knowledge of common nursery rhymes. After the pop quiz, the teacher read a list of statistics about how children who grew up knowing these basic rhymes were typically more advanced in their reading skills as well as, reading comprehension!

I have to give my mom and my grandmother all the credit for my score on the test, because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have known what little Jack Horner was doing in the corner or what frightened Miss Muffet away.

But now, as I’m teaching my own children, I’m seeing that there is meat to those statistics. And I’m glad my mom and grandmother took the time to teach me those early poems.

There are tons of benefits of reading poetry! As we read and memorize poetry with our kids, they are picking up language fluency, rhythm of speech, and vocabulary they wouldn’t have otherwise acquired.

Let’s explore these benefits of poetry!


7 Benefits of Poetry

1. Poetry Teaches Rhythm of Speech

The first benefit of poetry is that it teaches the rhythm and flow of speech. Little nursery rhymes that are read frequently are often memorized and repeated. Through this, children learn by default, the natural flow of words, inflection, and expression that they will later need to interpret written and oral language.

2. Poetry Enhances Vocabulary

An over-simplified feast of words provides no real sustenance for curious and growing minds. Don’t be afraid to speak new and interesting words. With each encounter with a particular word and new contexts given, a child’s understanding grows. Poetry offers a huge selection of new vocabulary!

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word,
sometimes I write one, and I look at it,
until it begins to shine.”

-Emily Dickenson

3. Poetry Passes Culture to the Next Generation

Another one of the benefits of poetry is that it passes culture and tradition down through the generations. Many of our common nursery rhymes, poems, and scriptures stem from historical events, interesting people, and memorable moments that serve as a reminder of our heritage.

Each of these poems give us a sense of belonging and confidence in our identity.

4. Poetry Creates an Empathy for the Arts and the Author

Poetry is not something that continually gets bigger and better. It is, and always will be, a quiet art that takes time and reflection to truly acquire and appreciate.

By starting our kids young, we can build an appreciation for this type of literature that will benefit them their entire lives. By starting early it will teach our kids an awareness of the feelings and thoughts expressed by a any given author.

5. Poetry Fosters the Use of Imagination

Poetry fosters imagination. We have been reading through A Child’s Garden of Verses and my kids have taken to Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “My Bed Is a Boat”. My daughter told me the other day that she was pretending that her bed was a boat, while adding her own twist of ideas and adventure.

This is an example of ways that kids are inspired to create or imagine after they’ve been exposed to poetry. The words and ideas stick in their minds and it begins to affect the way they learn and play.

6. Poetry Inspires Good and Noble Ideas

Poetry can inspire goodness in ourselves and our children. If carefully chosen, poetry can teach us all lessons of honesty, goodness, admiration, beauty and other characteristics that will illuminate our minds with wholesome ideas on which we can build knowledge.

Because as we know, right thinking leads us to a place of good decision making and admirable actions.

“When’er a noble deed is wrought, when’er is spoken a noble thought, our hearts, in glad surprise, to higher levels rise.”


7. Poetry Offers Enjoyment

One of the last benefits of poetry is that it offers enjoyment. Poetry can connect with our emotions in many ways that other genres of literature cannot. While it expresses joy, brings nostalgia, offers comfort, and other emotions it also can simply entertain us with its rhythm and rhyme.

What are the first books you want to share with your kids? Probably your favorites from your childhood, right? The ones that were read to you when you had nothing else to do but to cuddle up with someone you loved and listen. There was no stressing about form or sentence structure– it was for the pure enjoyment of hearing. By giving our kids this foundation, we let them aesthetically experience poetry, making their first exposure pleasurable and meaningful.

benefits of poetry - poetry books for kids.

Poetry Books To Get Your Started

Are you ready to start some poetry with your kids? If so, be sure to check out this 10 Great Books of Poetry for Kid list!

Two of our favorite poetry books for kids are A Child’s Garden of Verses (which is a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems) and A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa. (Amazon affiliate links)

The slow art of poetry can be challenging because it requires the habit of tuning our full attention to complete observation.

But perhaps with a little extra focus we can learn to enjoy the goodness, beauty, and knowledge the poetry has to offer to our children and ourselves.

    What is your favorite poem and why?

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    1. English being my second language, I literally picked up interest in English or reading through Poetry. It always left me wanting more… Then I started journaling in poetry form( I would write lines to express how I was feeling). To me poetry was art of expression. I have enjoyed teaching my little ones the beauty in poetry.

    2. Poetry is so important for young minds, and thank you Jessica for providing the list of books from these authors. I really like “I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth. Have a beautiful day Dear, hugs, Terri xo.

    3. It’s great that you mentioned how poetry could teach lessons of honesty, goodness, admiration, beauty and other characteristics that would illuminate the mind with wholesome ideas on which to build knowledge. I’ve been quite tired of my usual reads nowadays so I am thinking of branching out to other things, like poetry. I heard there’s a pretty good Puerto Rican poet so I’ll probably read her works on my free time.

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