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What Are the Different Types of Poetry for Kids?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are many types of poetry for kids, and almost any poetic form may be enjoyed by children as long as the subject matter is age appropriate. Some types that are particularly popular include narrative poetry, humor, and short forms such as limericks. When sharing poetry with kids, it's a good idea to choose poems with vivid language and understandable vocabulary. Much of the best poetry for kids often rhymes, deals with topics they can relate to, and has a rhythmic structure. Whenever possible, poetry should be read aloud, since many rely on the sound of the language for their beauty.

Some poets do specialize in poetry for kids, but children can enjoy poetry written by anyone, even those who usually write for an older audience. The best poems to share with kids use language to "paint a picture" in a vivid way, or to tell a story. It's important that the vocabulary not be too sophisticated and difficult, since it's difficult to truly enjoy a poem if you don't understand the words.

Types of poetry for kids that are often popular include narrative pieces, humor, and short rhyming poems like couplets and limericks. A narrative poem tells a story in verse and it often rhymes, although rhyming is not required. Humorous poems can utilize any format, and the main purpose is to make the reader laugh. Many poets who write specifically for children utilize humor that the kids can relate to, with some classic examples in the works of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein. Many children are first drawn to poetry by these humorous works that make them laugh.

Short forms are another important example of poetry for kids, which can be funny or can deliver a simple clear idea that appeals to kids' imaginations. The couplet is the shortest form, with just two rhyming lines. Limericks are a bit longer at five lines written in a metrical verse, and usually tell a very short, funny story. Nonsense verse is also popular, with words that are made up or have double meanings, and can be any length with widely varying subject matter.

There are a few other features that are shared by a great deal of poetry for kids. Much of it rhymes, and many children prefer rhyming poems over free verse. Another important feature of good poetry for children is that it deals with a subject the child can relate to and understand, and it should be age appropriate. A lot of kid's poetry also has a rhythmic structure, so that, when read aloud, it has a beat.

When sharing poetry with kids, it's best to read aloud whenever the situation allows it. Much poetry is meant to be spoken, and derives a lot of its charm from the sound of the spoken words. It can be a great idea to re-read poems many times, and encourage the children to join in which is a practice known as choral reading. Children can even be encouraged memorize the poems for recitation or to try writing poems themselves.

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Discussion Comments
By Adai99chi — On Feb 13, 2014

My 12 year old grandson is reading the poem Beowulf. I am concerned about the appropriateness of this poem for this age due to the explicit violence that it contains. He suffers from ADHD. Any comments or advice?

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