April, a month that brings sunshine and spring flowers, is also a month dedicated to poetry. National Poetry Month takes place every April to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.

National Poetry Month was established in 1996 to highlight the legacies and achievements of American poets. The month of April is now the largest literary celebration in the world. Poetry is defined as a form of literature that expresses feelings and ideas while using a distinctive style and rhythm. There are a variety of different poem types based on the format, rhyme scheme, and subject matter. Some examples of poem styles are a Ballad, Limerick, and a Haiku.

Each April, literary organizations come together to increase the attention towards poetry and support poets and poetry. The Academy of American Poets were inspired after seeing the success of Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March.

Kids probably start out loving poetry from the first time they hear a Mother Goose nursery rhyme, and later, by reading The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham. And yet, as they get older, many children seem to lose interest in poetry. As adults, we should do everything possible to change that.

Why Poetry?

  • Poetry not only develops language skills, but also has rhythm and sounds that work together for more effective communication. Many of the world’s greatest speakers—Martin Luther King, Jr.; Winston Churchill; Franklin Roosevelt; Barack Obama—have a rhythm and musicality to their speech which increases the power of their message.
  • Poetry breaks the rules. Kids don’t often have permission to disobey the rules of English, but poems can break away from sentence structure and can include made-up words, allowing kids a liberating means of expression. The loosening of rules is beneficial to English Language Learners, allowing them to express themselves outside of grammatical confinements.
  • Poetry helps develop memorization skills in children. Older kids often have problems memorizing, whether it’s multiplication tables or the Gettysburg Address. Little kids, though, are able to memorize nursery rhymes almost as soon as they can talk. If you can keep kids memorizing poems as they get older, that skill will serve them well throughout their lives.
  • Poetry teaches the economy of language. By creating poems with a specific structure, like a sonnet, limerick, cinquain, or haiku, children have to think about each word, finding the most effective way to communicate their ideas, while staying within the poem’s strict form.

The worst thing to do is to make reading or memorizing poetry feel like a chore or like a punishment. There are apps available which will read poems to your kids on your phone or tablet. Or, you can find entertaining poems online for kids to listen to or read themselves.

Whether you’re a poetry lover or you’re new to the poetic art form, find a poem to inspire you during April’s National Poetry Month.