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Poetry for Children


Poetry for the dinner table, memorized or just read, is a great way to bring everyone together and help your kids develop an appreciation for the written word. Here are a few suggestions for different age groups:

Poems for Elementary Aged Children:

• Gelett Burgess
• Mother Goose
• Dr. Seuss
• Shel Silverstein, “A Light in the Attic” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”
• Robert Louis Stevenson, “A Child’s Garden of Verses”
• Ogden Nash, any collection (“I don’t mind eels/except as meals/and how they feels”)

Poems for Middle Schoolers:

• Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Paul Revere’s Ride”. Though the rhyming gets a little predictable, it is, nevertheless, still a wonderful adventure story.
• Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son.” Takes middle-schoolers out of self-absorption to see how their mothers see life.
• Ernest Laurence Thayer, “Casey at the Bat.” It still works!
• Dylan Thomas, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” It is a magnificent prose-poem, not so much about Christmas as about the magic of childhood – funny, poignant, rich language.

Poems for High Schoolers:

• A Shakespeare Sonnet, i.e., #30 “When to the Sessions.”
• Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.”
• From Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Marc Antony’s “Friends Romans and Countrymen…” soliloquy or from Henry V, Act 3 Scene 1, “Once more into the breech…”
• Shelley, “Ozymandias.” A good one to memorize.
• Sir Patrick Spens, Jesse James, and Frankie and Johnny (all by anonymous authors). Each tells a story in ballad form, which appeals to all ages.


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