Sunday, July 15, 2012

Captivate Children with Stories that Include Poetry

Young children can learn so much from reading their favorite books with a loved one. They learn by listening and participating in a way that actively encourages their imagination. If a child sees reading as a fun activity from the start, he will usually enjoy reading as he gets older. The use of simple poetry can bring a story alive in a way that an "only prose" story cannot. A repetitive poetic refrain can captivate. A child will often take "ownership" of a short verse and want to be the one who "reads" it. The clever use of fonts (different size letters, color and shape) also can enhance a child's enjoyment of the story (with a request for a re-read the next storytime or bedtime). Anything from making flashcards to acting out the new words can be fun ways for children to learn and remember the new vocabulary. Searching for synonyms and antonyms in the poem can be turned into a fun scavenger hunt. For example, draw attention to an unusual or new word and talk about words with similar or opposite meanings. See how many words the child can find that she doesn't know and do the same thing. It can be fun to search for nouns, adjectives, and verbs in the child's favorite poems as well. In my newest children's book, The Labyrinth, I incorporate a small verse that is repeated five times at key points in the story. This delights children. "Oh, Mean Ol' Bean, How he did scheme. To be rid of the Queen, That was his dream." For young children, the rhyming and natural rhythm draws them into a story. Adults get caught up in the fun of it as well. Who doesn't still remember, "red fish, blue fish, one fish, two fish," or "a person's a person no matter how small?" Seuss and many other wonderful authors offer children so much. So, join in the fun and find books to read that include poetry and rhymes.

Thomas Weck is a creative and captivating national award-winning author of children's books, including the popular Lima Bear Stories: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, The Cave Monster and The Labyrinth. Learn more at

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