Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Classic Post: Why Is Teaching Poetry Important?

This is a post on poetry and the Common Core that originally ran in March 2014. Check back frequently for more Common Core-related topics!

Poetry can help children learn to read by developing pre-reading and reading skills. It can introduce new vocabulary, improve fluency through increased rhythm skills, and build phonetic knowledge through familiarity with rhyme.Today we're focusing on why it is important to teach poetry, introducing it to students in even the lowest grades. As the Common Core State Standards are implemented in more and more states, poetry becomes part of the curriculum beginning in kindergarten. Kindergarten students need to learn how to recognize poetry when they see it (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.K.5), and the best way to get them to that point is through lots of exposure!

Rhyming is an especially helpful aspect of poetry when it comes to learning to read. When students can recognize rhyming words (through activities that can be jumpstarted by poetry, such as creating lists of them), it improves their handle on which letters can correspond to which sounds, as well as which word "shapes" repeat in words that sound the same at the end. These skills become part of the basic framework off of which children learn to read.

Poetry can also contribute to speaking and listening skills. Through reading poems aloud and hearing them read by others, students become more familiar with the cadence of the language. They naturally absorb the concepts of meter and beat, and tapping these things out also can be a fun way to incorporate physical learning.

Poems also tend to be shorter than most other types of written works, making them less daunting to read for struggling or easily intimidated students. Students who have never before finished reading something will be delighted to learn that they just read "a whole poem" by themselves!

Coming soon, we'll have poetry cards available as part of our Zoozoo Into the Wild series. This series currently contains three genres of books—fiction, informational, and wordless—with eight animals. There is one book from each genre for each animal. When the poetry cards are released, there will be a snippet of poetry on each card, with a card for one of each of the same animals. Pictured to the right are two sneak previews: the card for the frog, and the card for the tiger. Keep an eye out for these fun additions to your poetry collection!