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Parents, pick poetry during Children's Book Week | @guardianletters


With next week being Children's Book Week, I would like to put in a word for poetry in the hope that parents will pick up a book of poems at bedtime. Evidence shows that many children first discover poetry through their parents. I myself dipped into my father's books of poetry that were left lying around when I was child. I can still remember being moved by the music of the words and the pictures created in my mind.I'm not suggesting the poem replaces the story, but a poem read aloud casts its own spell and can hold children enthralled, awakening in them a new awareness and love of language. Poetry never forgets its roots in song. Children love the sound and associations of words; the surprise of images; of getting their tongues around the music of vowels and consonants. Pre-schoolers and older children enjoy the chance to feel the rhythm of the words through clapping, stamping and other movements. We can all remember the rumbustious enjoyment of nursery rhymes.

Libraries are currently promoting Children's Book Week and they usually have a great selection of poetry for children and parents to enjoy together. Nevertheless it strikes me as a bit of a shame that for older readers, poetry is found in a separate section in the library or bookshop whilst children's poetry can be found with picture books, fiction and non-fiction on the children's shelves. Might that be a barrier in itself to encouraging parents to pick up a book of poetry for their own and their children's pleasure?
Grace Nichols
Judge, Foyle Young Poets Award 2014

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