Poetry is one of those topics teachers seem to either love or hate. Students seem to feel the same way. However, Common Core and state reading standards are emphasizing figurative language more than ever. Not only do students have to learn how to read poetry, they also need to learn to compare and contrast it with other types of literature. Whether you love it or hate it, you need to teach it. So what’s the trick to making poetry fun and enjoyable for both teachers and students?
In order to get students comfortable with poetry, teachers need to read it to them. But who should you read? For many adults, poems are remembered as long and difficult pieces of writing they had to dissect in high school. However, today there is such a wide variety of poets out there to read that teachers couldn’t possibly fit them all in! A few poets write books specifically aimed at children, but my students have also enjoyed reading the classic poets as well. Teachers should take the time to read a variety of poets and earmark poems they feel are especially interesting or that they feel their students would enjoy. This will also help teachers to select a variety of poetry styles and topics, so that every students hears at least one poem that appeals to them.
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4. Nikki Grimes
7. Joyce Sidman
By chance I found Got Geography! one year when we were starting our poetry unit. Now, you already know I am a sucker for all things social studies, but this collection of poems was a huge hit with my class. The topics were accessible, and many of the poems were clever (see, sucker for clever.) Many of his poetry collections integrate history or science. From my experience, these are well-liked by students.
12. Your Choice
In the end, I feel that it’s important for teachers and parents to read books and poems they love to their students. When you really love something, you give off an infectious energy. Students know you love it, and it hooks them into the poem or book. (If you dislike it, that shows, too, so be careful.) Find a poem you love and share it – and explain why you love it. Encourage students to bring a book or book of poems they love!. The best way to get students to care about your class is to include them.
I enjoyed Alana Katz’s Take Me Out to the Bathtub and Little Cat’s Luck. What is your go-to poet or book of poems to you read to your students? I would love to know who you enjoy reading!