Why do children love poems?

Most of us approached storytelling through rhymes. The first stories we have been told as kids were probably poems. Why do kids love poems? Are rhymes important for the child development? Indeed, they are.

“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight
nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the
best readers by the time they’re eight.”

[Fox, M. (2001). Reading Magic. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.]

Rhymes are important for language development, cognitive development, social/emotional development and physical development. Let’s explore this in detail.

1) Language Development:

Rhymes make it easier for kids to learn new words. Learning new words appears effortless, because the rhytmical structure of the stanzas creates a familiar context for unfamiliar words. Moreover, reading rhymes aloud or repeating rhymes helps them practice pitch, voice inflection, and volume. It may seem trivial to a grown up, but the level of coordination required to master all the variables of voice is extremely complex.

“Poetry provides a relaxed and pleasent way for students to practice language skills”

Source: Nancy L. Hadaway, Sylvia M. Vardell and Terrell A. Young. The Reading Teacher Vol. 54, No. 8, Embracing Pluralism Worldwide, Part 2: Classrooms in the U.S. (May, 2001), pp. 796-806

2) Physical Development

This brings us to the impact of rhymes on physical development. Breath coordination, tongue and mouth movements, are made easier by the musical structure of the rhyme. Rhymes create a perfect environment for children, because it looks like right things happen easily. Rhymes help you understand when you need to breath, and for how long, with no need of theory of explanation. The physical awareness developed through rhymes can be naturally applied to prose as the kids grow older.

“Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and use the individual sounds or phonemes in spoken words.

Helping children understand rhyming is one key skill of phonemic awareness” (Block & Israel, 2005)

3) Cognitive Development

Through rhymes and poems, children understand that there are words which are similar in sound but with different meanings. They learn what a pattern is, and become capable of recognizing patterns. They understand, through patterns, what a sequence is. They have fun memorizing rhymes, thus practicing their memory both linked to audio and visual events. (Listening to someone reading rhymes, or reading themselves). Memory, patterns, and sequences are also extremely helpful for approaching math and new languages.

“Working with teachers in sharing poetry across the curriculum have shown us that students need to practice developing their oral fluency and that they find poetry a particularly unintimidating and fun way to do it “

(Hadaway, Vardell & Young, 2001)

4) Social/Emotional Development

This is a dimension that we particularly care about. Our apps‘ goal is to help kids not only to become passionate and proficient readers, but also to know more about themselves, and about their emotions. We want them to be able to establish healthy relationships with kids and grown ups around them. Rhymes encourage kids’ sense of humor, and sharing rhymes with their family creates space for inside jokes, and for an emotional attachment to the stories kids read together with their parents. When children feel lonely, or need comfort, they can easily recall the rhymes they shared with their parents and feel cherished, also if they’re not with their family in that exact moment.

For Valentine’s day, we featured “Romeo and Juliet” in rhymes on Timbuktu Magazine. It’s an ironic, interactive version of William Shakespeare’s tragedy that will give you a great opportunity to discover this timeless story with your kids, to have fun learning the rhymes, and to change its finale to a much happier one! Here’s how the story begins:

One day, in the streets of a city

Well known for being savage and pretty

Two gangs made a very big mess,

that caused all their neighbors distress.

The Prince of Verona declared:

“Just stop now or, well, be prepared.

I’ll kill those who will break the peace,

all fight must immediately cease!”

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