National Poetry Month: 30 Ways to Celebrate—A Poem a Day and More

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Plant the seeds and help grow a love for poetry in your kids this April and all year long. Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

Help kids of any age become aware of or deepen their appreciation of this literary art form. The Academy of American Poets lists 30 ways to celebrate poetry on their website. Memorize a favorite poem, organize a poetry reading for your friends or at your school, or visit a poetry landmark, like a poet’s former residence or a place of inspiration to poets like the Brooklyn Bridge or a hike on a mountain trail.

For Teens and Older Children

Visit the Library of Congress’s Poetry 180 site: This site is devoted to a poem for every day of the school year, for high school students. All of these poems are intended to be read aloud, as a means of increasing appreciation of this art form. Encourage your teens to read poems aloud to you or each other. Ask what they did or didn’t like about a poem you read together.

Focus on specific themed-based poetry: The Library of Congress has materials devoted to certain themes, including immigration and migration, work and industry, and social change. Kids can sample poems from different themes, and reflect on which theme interests them the most and why.

Start a poetry notebook: Kids can write some poems of their own in different styles of poetry.

For Younger Children

It’s never too early to introduce your baby, preschooler, or younger child to poetry. Make it a playful learning experience. Get ideas for celebrating poetry with younger children from the Reading Rockets’ poetry page.

Enjoy nursery rhymes together: Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early readers all can appreciate nursery rhymes read aloud or recited to them. Toddlers, preschoolers, and Kindergarteners also would enjoy repeating one rhyme and practicing to memorize it. Talk about rhyme and rhythm—beat out a rhythm to a poem on a toy drum or a drum made from recycled materials. Draw pictures of favorite nursery rhyme scenes.

Explore nature on a science and poetry walk and learn about haiku: Spring is a great time to investigate the wonders of your backyard, neighborhood parks, or a nearby state or national park. Then try some haiku, which typically focuses on the natural world.

Pick up a book of children’s poems: Visit your local public or school library and check out books of children’s poems. During National Poetry Month, the librarians may set up a special display to showcase a selection of their favorite poetry books. At home read the poems aloud to your kids. Early readers might be able to read the poems or parts of the poems aloud to you.

Be a poet: Ask your child to make up a poem of his or her own or some rhyming lines. Children who can write may write it out themselves. For younger children, write it down for them—capture their original creations and record the date. Invite them to illustrate their poems, too.

This feature is based on a blog post that originally appeared on free.ed.gov, a site that is now retired. Please visit ed.gov/FREE for more information.


Last Modified: 12/01/2015