Tiny Owl Children & Poetry campaign begins
Poetry can have a profound and almost magical effect on people. One line of a poem can transport us to somewhere else entirely. Writing and reading poetry can help children develop empathy skills, aid literacy, and is fun! With the launch of our latest poetry book Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me we have started a campaign to explore ways that we can encourage children to get involved with poetry. If you’re a parent, teacher or poetry lover then we hope that this campaign will help inspire you to bring amazing poetry to children.
We contacted children’s poets and experts and asked them:
How can we encourage children to discover and embrace poetry for themselves?
To start our campaign we have a fantastic response from John Lyons
We must be the spark that ignites the flame
The answer to which is vital in approaching the development of children’s appreciation of language as a means to express their feeling about the environment, social and otherwise, in which they live.
Within the phrases, we encourage children and discover……..for themselves is embedded an approach in answer to the above question. We, the adults, parents and teachers, with our own enthusiastic interest, should be the spark that ignites the flame for poetry in children at an early age.
This process could begin during ‘bedtime story’ time, in the first instance, with picture books which contain light, amusing poetry with bright easily recognizable pictures that tell a story. As we may know from our own experience this could be an emotional bonding time and it should also be a fun occasion; and adult sensibilities in gauging the child’s attention span, should dictate when to cease the reading session and continue it another time. Soon, a favourite book could be established, representing a tangible initial success.
At an older age when children get into reading for themselves, they could be introduced to a good children’s book shop, where books with poems are attractively and brightly displayed. Taking the lead from the children’s interest, together you could choose books. The psychological advantage of this is to instil in them a sense of owning with pride books of their own. At this point in the process, youngsters should also be encourage to use both school and public libraries. It is always possible at this stage that children may take to writing their own poems or stories. This should to be encouraged.
In writing this little piece, it occurred to me that there could be formed some sort of ‘association’ between publishers, poets they publish, schools and Parents’ Associations. Also, Primary Schools and publishers should connect with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), if they have not already done so. I also do believe that a more frequent use of living poets in Primary Schools should be made. From my own experience, young children in schools are really excited and enthusiastic when a practising, published poet visits their school to work with them.
John Lyons is a Trinidad-born poet, painter and illustrator living in Cambridgeshire.
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