April is a busy month. There's Earth Day, of course, Easter (I don't celebrate it, but the kids and I feel compelled to color eggs), Arbor Day, and most importantly, my husband's birthday (35, if you're wondering; I'll get there myself in another six months). It's also National Garden Month and National Poetry Month. I'll probably touch on all of these topics at some point this month, but the focus of this post is National Poetry Month.
Poetry, in my opinion, is a magical thing. A lot of people, particularly young people, seem to think that poetry is stuffy or boring or somehow highbrow, but poetry is for everyone, and is possibly the most fun anyone can have with language. Most of us just don't realize how much poetry affects our lives--what is a song, after all, but a poem set to music? If you love music, then you love poetry. (If you don't love music, I'd love to hear more about your home planet sometime.) A well written poem creates its own music when you read it out loud. Poetry can be a great way to express yourself, and reading poetry with kids can spark creativity. Writing poetry is a challenge; expressing feelings or observations in a few words, with or without a specific rhythm, teaches brevity and clarity. Choosing just the right word helps build vocabulary.
If you're a teacher, librarian, or parent, I hope you'll take some time to celebrate National Poetry Month with the kids in your life. The Academy of American Poets have some great resources on their National Poetry Month web site, including curricula and lesson plans; tip sheets for teachers and librarians; Poem-A-Day; and the Free Verse Photo Competition (really fun--if I were a teacher, this would be an assignment for my class). You should also check out Poetry 180, a Library of Congress web site that provides "a poem-a-day for American high schools" and the Children's Poetry page of the Poetry Foundation.
I'll be writing some posts on resources to share with kids. Do any of you have favorite books of children's poetry that you remember from childhood? If so, leave a comment about it on this post. It needn't be a formal book of poems--perhaps you remember a favorite picture book that had text written in verse?