Recently I spied my son Adi going through my book of poems. He seemed to derive great pleasure reading new words and rolling them on his tongue and was trying to recite them in a sing-song way. He in fact took the book for show and tell at his school and all the kids and teachers were terribly excited. For most kids it was their first exposure to any kind of poetry and I am glad to say that now they are hooked and will read any set of verses they see written anywhere!

Poetry is the food of love, it has been told time and again. I could not agree more. In this case, I would go as far as to say if you want to fall in love with a language, read its poetry first. It brings out the beauty of the language in a different format. And it is an excellent introduction to literature.

As kids learn to appreciate words in a language, it becomes a sort of friend to them. And what better way to get kinds interested than to sing it in a jingle or a rhyme? The child may not understand the poem, but he/she might find its rhythm and metrical structure delightful. Children in fact relate to poems in a different way because they find it easy and fun to recite.

When a child is introduced early on to poetry, they will learn to love it for a lifetime. Most of us without realizing it expose our children to rhymes, whether they be from a book or made up nonsensical ones of our own. And we know most children’s books are written with some form of poetry in them to make them more palatable to read.

These are some of the benefits of poetry on children:

  • It enables them to appreciate the sound and imagery of language.
  • It explains how to capture the essence of a concept using minimal words.
  • It enables them to think beyond the written words and delve into its inner meaning.
  • It enriches their vocabulary as they discover new words used creatively.
  • It offers them a chance to understand their place in the big scheme of things as it provides a new perspective of the world around them.

Reading poetry often, aloud, is very comforting for a child. There is a theory that poems resonate in the body by reacting with its natural rhythms. Heartbeats and breathing rates can apparently be affected by listening to poetry. This physical connection it makes with the body can regulate the child’s sense of cadence.

Parents and schools need to ensure that a firm foundation of poetry is given to children to ensure their lifelong language development. After all, its not just the food of love, but also that of an enriched life!

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