Today Roger McGough, one of my favourite children’s poets is celebrating his 80th birthday. He has published over 100 poetry books that children of all ages instantly love. His ability to bring the humour and detail of everyday life alive has made him a favourite with teachers and parents over the years.
As parents we can think of poetry as big words, complex themes and hidden meanings, this was my experience growing up! However, I have discovered that poetry can be the quick go to when time is short, it can engage even the most reluctant reader, and it can make you all laugh and create a feel-good factor in your home.
4 ways to enjoy poetry at home
- Find short poems based on your child’s interests and life experiences.
- Read poems over and over again, perform them in different voices and play about with the rhyme and rhythm.
- Find clips of your favourite poets reciting their poetry and join in.
- Encourage your child to play with words, by nature they will be curious and interested in language and how to manipulate it. You can make funny words and sounds something to treasure by having a book to collect these ideas and write them down.
There are many fantastic First Poetry books and anthologies of poems for young readers, here are a few of my tried and tested favourites.
If your child likes humour and wordplay, for example, Pamela Butchart, Roald Dahl, Dork Diaries then try the poet Michael Rosen.
If you have an observant nature and animal lover, Pie Corbett and Valerie Worth’s poetry that will appeal to your reader. The attention to detail in the beautiful illustrations of ‘Animal Poems’ by V Ward encourages children to re read it often and find something new and interesting each time.
For older children, 9-12 Benjamin Zephaniah writes funny, thought-provoking performance poetry. His poetry often engages the reluctant reader as Zephaniah raises big issues in a humorous and sometimes melancholic way, Children feel included and empowered to try and make the planet a better place, and as a result, they often have a lot to say.
It is hard to recommend Roger McGough’s best poetry books as he really does write something for everyone, a good place to start however could be a new book published by Puffin which has collated 80 of his poems to celebrate his 80th birthday – and you have guessed it, it is called 80
The Book Trust has published an article with Roger McGough explaining why children need poetry in their lives, how he became a poet and as a treat he reads three of his poems. You can check it out at https://www.booktrust.org.uk/whats-happening/blogs/2017/november/my-poetry-wasnt-accepted-at-first-roger-mcgough-turns-80/
I would really love to hear what poetry your children love and what place poetry has in your home, please share in the comments.