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Make Poetry Fun for You and Your Child

national poetry month logoApril is National Poetry month and hopefully your children have been engaged in multi-sensory poetry related activities at school to help the genre come alive.  If you cringe at the thought of reveling in poetry, take breath and realize that your exposure to poetry may not have been a fit for your learning style.

Dyslexic children or other reluctant readers may find poetry absolutely unapproachable on the written page.  Yet there is a simple solution to help unlock the joy of poetry even for the most reluctant of readers:

Read the poem out loud.

Poems by design lend themselves to multi-sensory exploration.  Let your child, dyslexic or not, hear the poem while they look at the words and use their finger to follow along.  Sound, sight, touch.

A classic to read to your younger children would be anything from Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silversteen.  Curl up together and giggle at the silly words, silly pictures and silly ideas you will find in the poems.  You can even act out some of the poems, but pick carefully. (I recommend Hug of War so you can sneak in some quality hugs with your poetry reading).

Older children may be unwilling to read poetry out loud with their parents.  But that shouldn’t be a barrier for an older reader who would benefit from a multi-sensory experience.

The American Academy of Poets has made a fantastic website for poetry exploration It has thousands of poems, classics to modern day poems to explore – and many of them are accompanied by a recorded reading.  Your older child simply clicks the speaker icon to start the recording, then they can follow along with the written words, scrolling to keep pace with the recording.  Sound, sight, touch – for older readers.  Be warned, the site includes poems for adults so be sure to pre-read to make sure the content and language are appropriate for your child.

Use National Poetry Month as a reason to join a community of poetry readers.  By reading and maybe even discussing the poems out loud, you and your children can explore and maybe even enjoy the genre.  Poetry doesn’t have to be obscure or stuffy, there are just too many ways poets communicate.  Breaking down the reading barrier opens up ideas and thoughts for all readers, dyslexic, reluctant or avid.

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