Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Stuff and Nonsense! How to get your little bookworms loving poetry and verse - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

The late great Spike Milligan - a new literary hero for Charlotte

Children can't resist cleverness. Whether it's the subtle twist in a children's story, or the devil in the detail in a piece of illustration, kids can't help but admire folk who write and draw children's books. 

Of course, it goes without saying that they also develop huge respect for folk who can twist, turn and manipulate the English language to make them giggle and chortle, particularly in rhyme. 

During our latest library visit, Charlotte was really worked up about locating a book she'd spotted at school. "It's called 'The Works' Daddy" she exclaimed insistently, like I'd instantly have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all books called "The Works". 

Her second clue was more helpful though. "It's the book with the Ning Nang Nong in it!"

My poor addled brain could remember the Ning Nang Nong poem but I'd temporarily mixed up my nonsense poets and mistakenly thought it might be an Edward Lear poem (thank goodness mum was there to help us find a big fat Lear anthology, which we eventually borrowed even though it wasn't really what we were looking for!)

Charlotte digs into a fantastic Edward Lear anthology before breakfast!

I had Spike Milligan nagging at the back of my brain and of course most folk will know that Mr Milligan the Milligoon himself had penned "Ning Nang Nong" and other hilarious rib-tickling poems for children. Alas we came home empty handed but did at least find said poem on the internet later on.

Nonsense poetry is truly a fine art and though Charlotte turned her nose up at "Twas Brillig and the Slythy Toves", we enjoyed digging through the poetry books at home to find the finest works of such literary poetry luminaries as Milligan, Lear, Lewis Carroll and our fave Twitter superstar chum Colin West (do drop by his website, it's absolutely chock full of gloriously funny poetry). 

As soon as children discover that they can come up with their own rhymes, they take to poetry like ducks to water. Even the most hardened book-dodging adults if pressed will be able to name (or even recite off by heart) a favourite rhyme, which shows how fantastic poetry is for engaging readers at an early age and keep them reading well into adulthood. 

Lear's amazingly inventive bird illustrations. Gorgeous!

It's not too difficult to nurture a love of poems and rhymes, after all, there's a huge number of children's picture books that resort to rhyme to carry a story, so the chances are you're already halfway there! 

So what else can you do? How about some of the following...

  • Limericks (though keep 'em clean, obviously!) - Edward Lear discovered the joys of limericks and came up with some corkers during his literary career. 

  • Word Clouds - Get a piece of paper and draw a huge cloud on it. Get children to shout out words that rhyme so you can write them down, or if they can write themselves encourage them to get their coloured pencils out and write their own suggestions!
  • Rhyming Names - This one is slightly tricky, get children to draw pictures of their friends with their names alongside, and then draw a rhyming object to go with the name (Jane - Plane, John - Scone) - A great variation on this is to come up with names for animals (Debra the Zebra, Jake the Snake)

For more ideas, here's a collection of links to poems and resources we've enjoyed on the blog previously. Dig in, there's truly something for everyone!