Children's poetry is poetry written for, or appropriate for children. This may include folk poetry (for example, Mother Goose rhymes); poetry written intentionally for young people (e.g. Shel Silverstein); poetry written originally for adults, but appropriate for young people (Ogden Nash); and poems taken from prose works (Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling).
Poetry is usually one of the first types of literature presented to a child in the form of nursery rhymes or lullabies. Poetry is universal throughout the world's oral traditions as songs and folklore passed down to younger generations. Written poetry first began appearing in the 15th century mostly religious to provide moral instruction. The eighteenth century saw the development of the concept of childhood, and a separate genre of children's literature, including poetry, began to emerge.
Introducing poetry to children helps develop their literacy skills by developing vocabulary through rhythmic structure of the stanzas which give context to new and unknown words; phonemic awareness through pitch, voice inflection, and volume; memorization through patterns and sequences; self-expression through the creativity and emotion of the words; physical awareness of breath, movements of the mouth and other gestures as they align to the rhythm of the poetry. Scholars also see that poetry and nursery rhymes are universal throughout cultures as an oral tradition.
Notable children's poets
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- Allan Ahlberg (b.1938) is one of Britain's best-loved children's writers. The author of over a hundred books.
- Francisco X. Alarcón (1954–2016) first started writing poetry for children in 1997 after realizing there were very few books written by Latino authors. His poems are minimalist and airy, and often published in bilingual editions.
- Valerie Bloom (b.1956) is a Jamaican-born poet and a novelist based in the UK.
- Roald Dahl (1916–1990) is one of the most successful children's writers in the world: around thirty million of his books have been sold in the UK alone. Dahl's collection of poems Revolting Rhymes is a re-interpretation of six well-known fairy tales, featuring surprise endings in place of the traditional happily-ever-after. Dahl's poems and stories are popular among Children because he writes from their point of view - in his books adults are often the villains or are just plain stupid!
- Paul Fleischman (b.1952) is best known for his collection Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, winner of the 1989 Newbery Medal.
- Nikki Giovanni (b. 1943) is one of the world's most well-known African-American poets. Her work directly addresses the African American experience in Spin a Soft Black Song and others.
- Charles Lamb (1775–1834), best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764–1847).
- Edward Lear (1812–1888) was the first to use limericks in his writing, authoring A Book of Nonsense in 1846 and featuring silly poetry and neologisms.
- Brian Moses (b.1950) is one of Britain's favourite children's poets, for both his own poetry and the anthologies he has edited, and he has performed in over two thousand schools across the UK and Europe. He is a Reading Champion for the Literacy Trust.
- Jack Prelutsky (b.1940) - Author of such works as A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems, Jack Prelutsky was selected the inaugural Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation in 2006.
- Michael Rosen is a broadcaster, children's novelist and poet and the author of 140 books. He was appointed as the fifth Children's Laureate in June 2007, succeeding Jacqueline Wilson, and held this honor till 2009.
- Dr. Seuss - wrote many Children's poetry books including The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.
- Shel Silverstein - author of such works as Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic, Silverstein also wrote The Giving Tree.
- Jean Sprackland (b.1962), is an English poet, the author of three collections of poetry published since 1997.
- Roger Stevens is a performance poet, author, musician and artist. His poems have appeared in more than one hundred anthologies.
- Robert Louis Stevenson - author of such works as A Child's Garden of Verses.
- Jane Taylor (poet) (1783–1824) co-wrote the ubiquitous Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star with her sister.
- Judith Viorst (b. 1931) is known for her humorous observational poetry and for her children's literature.
- Gez Walsh is a performance poet and stand-up comedian best known as the author of the cult classic children's poetry book The Spot on my Bum.
- Jacqueline Woodson (b. 1963), writer of Newbery Honor-winning Brown Girl Dreaming, an adolescent novel told in verse.
- "Children's Poetry | Encyclopedia.com". www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
- "The Case for Children's Poetry". University of Cambridge. 2011-10-11. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
- Nikolajeva, María (editor) (1995). Aspects and Issues in the History of Children's Literature. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-29614-7.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- "5 Benefits of Poetry Recitation in a Child's Literacy Development | Scholar Base". scholar-base.com. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
- "10 Wonderful Children's Poets You Should Know". Literary Hub. 2017-05-10. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
- Once upon a time, there was a man who liked to make up stories ... The Independent (Sunday, 12 December 2010)
- Brewton, John Edmund. Index to Poetry for Children and Young People, 1964–1969. New York: Wilson, 1972.
- Index to Poetry for Children and Young People, 1976–1981. New York: Wilson, 1981.
- Sell, Violet, Dorothy B. Frizzell Smith, Ardis Sarff O’Hoyt, and Mildred Bakke. Subject Index to Poetry for Children and Young People. Chicago: American Library Association, 1957, ISBN 0-8389-0242-1.