Hudson Valley Parent

HVP May 2018

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32 Hudson Valley Parent n May 2018 explore literature and creative writing is more important than ever," says Milby. "How often do we encounter children who can recite Frost, Longfellow, Poe, Dickinson? Not often enough, these days." Milby makes an excellent point. Studying poetry, analyzing poems, and engaging in creative writing both in schools and in homes has been declining in recent years, and according to Milby, "needs more attention in our modern age of electronics and media distraction." Bettina "Poet Gold" Wilkerson, Poet Laureate of Dutchess County, echoes a similar sentiment. She says, "Kids are stimulated by so many different things nowadays, we often don't know what is on a child's mind. Poetry can help give a voice to what is on their mind in a way that helps adults hear them." Todd Poteet agrees. "Writing has helped my daughter's confidence soar by giving her a voice. At such a young age, she knows that what she says is important," he says. If only every child could experience similar feelings of empowerment! Start from birth Although not yet readers or writers, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers can still benefit greatly from regular exposure to poetry. Reading books of poetry to very young children stimulates language development in a fun and engaging manner. Poet Gold remarks, "When very young children hear rhyming words and the rhythm of poetry, their eyes light up." Positive experiences with literacy early on put children at an advantage in school. Additionally, listening to the rhythm and rhyme within poems can aid in vocabulary acquisition, and improve memorization skills as well. Gold insists, "Poetry teaches little ones about body language, interpretation of sound, inflection and how something is read, not just what is read." No other literary genre offers comparable takeaways just from reading it aloud. The benefits of exposing babies, toddlers and preschoolers to poetry are extensive. According to Gold, sharing poems and stories written in verse with the youngest children can have profoundly positive effects on a child's overall development. This also fosters engaging parent-child interactions that everyone can enjoy. Keep the creativity going School age children in kindergarten and first grade are in the throes of learning to read and write. Older children develop competency in their literacy skills, and can likely read with increasing independence, make connections to what they read and start to read for meaning. As kids grow, they can also write simple stories and possess vivid imaginations as well. According to Milby, "Young people have a natural, organic curiosity toward writing and self-expression. Children are drawn to rhyme and can learn much through song and chant." First grade teacher from Hopewell Junction Kathi Spinella agrees. She often reads books written in verse aloud to her students during her daily literacy lessons. She makes sure to choose engaging books with age- appropriate humor, such as her students' current favorite, The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. Spinella says, "Students anticipate rhymes and chime in with the words, which aid in their learning about language. They are unaware they are actually learning." That is a testament to the power of poetry. Frame poetry as a challenge for middle schoolers According to Poet Gold, middle school aged children are most resistant to learning through poetry. Often, by framing poetry lessons or the creation of original poems as either a "challenge" or with some other sort of purpose, kids this age will likely give more focus and effort to Poetry Recommendation List Ages 0-4: • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault • Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andrae • Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss Ages 5-8: • Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox • Rainy Day Poems by James McDonald • The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson • Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein Ages 9-12: • Addie on the Inside (The Misfits) by James Howe • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson • Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissinger • Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander Ages 13-17: • Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds • Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott • Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen • Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank POETRY FOR KIDS (Continued from Page 31)

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