How To Teach Children To Read Poetry Out Loud

Written by Dan

Last updated

Learning to read poetry out loud can be an intimidating experience for both children and teachers alike. But the reward of helping your students truly appreciate all forms of literature by learning to understand the nuances of poetic expression is something that cannot be underestimated.

You can make teaching children how to interpret and enjoy poetry delightful with a few simple steps. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips on how best to introduce your students to the wonderful world of poetry reading out loud so you can inspire a lifelong appreciation and love for it in them!

Related: For more, check out our page full of Example Poems on 100s of Topics.

tips for writing poetry

Understanding Poetry

The Basics of Poetry

Poetry, in its simplest form, is a method of expressing emotions, ideas, and experiences through rhythmic language. It’s a form of art created by arranging words in a way that conveys a message and appeals to our senses and emotions.

Why is it important for children to learn about poetry? Firstly, poetry fosters an appreciation for language and encourages creative expression. It helps children develop their vocabulary and understanding of language structure. Additionally, poetry often explores complex themes and emotions, helping children to broaden their emotional literacy and empathy.

There are numerous forms of poetry, each with its own set of rules and structures. Some of the most common forms include sonnets, haikus, limericks, and free verse.

Sonnets, for instance, have 14 lines and a specific rhyme scheme, while haikus are composed of three lines with a 5-7-5 syllable count. Limericks have a distinct rhythmic pattern and humor, and free verse gives poets the freedom to write without any specific rules about rhyme or rhythm.

Learning to Interpret Poetry

Interpreting poetry can be a challenging task, even for adults. For children, it can seem like an insurmountable hurdle. However, several techniques can make this process easier and more engaging.

Start by reading the poem aloud together, encouraging the child to listen to the rhythm and flow of the words. Discuss the feelings and images that the poem evokes. This initial immersion allows children to experience the poem in a sensory way before delving into its deeper meaning.

Next, break the poem down into smaller parts and discuss each section individually. Encourage children to identify any words or phrases they don’t understand and look up their meanings together.

Make interpreting poetry interactive by incorporating activities such as drawing or acting out scenes from the poem. This can make the process more enjoyable and help children connect with the material on a deeper level.

Remember, the goal is not just to understand the literal meaning of the poem, but also to appreciate the feelings and images it conveys. Encouraging children to share their interpretations can foster a sense of ownership and deepen their connection to the poetry.

Preparing to Read Poetry Out Loud

Choosing the Right Poems

Choosing the right poems for children to read out loud is of paramount importance. The poem should be engaging, sparking interest and curiosity in the child. It should also be suitable for their age and reading level.

When selecting a poem, consider the complexity of the language used, the length of the poem, and the themes it explores. A good starting point might be short, rhyming poems that tell a story or describe something familiar to the child. As they become more comfortable with poetry, you can gradually introduce more complex works.

The poem should also resonate with the child on an emotional level. Whether it’s a funny limerick, a touching sonnet, or a thought-provoking free verse, the poem should evoke emotions that the child can relate to and understand.

Practicing Reading Out Loud

Practicing reading out loud is crucial for learning to read poetry. It allows children to hear the rhythm and flow of the words, which can enhance their understanding and appreciation of the poem.

There are several exercises and activities that can help children improve their reading skills. One effective method is to have them read the same poem multiple times, each time focusing on a different aspect – first the rhythm, then the rhyme, and finally the meaning of the words.

Encourage children to experiment with their voice when reading out loud. They can try changing their tone, volume, and speed to convey the mood of the poem. This not only improves their reading skills but also helps them connect more deeply with the emotions expressed in the poem.

Another useful activity is to have children pair up and read poems to each other. This provides them with an audience, which can boost their confidence and motivate them to read more expressively.

Remember, the goal of these exercises is not just to improve reading skills, but also to foster a love of poetry. So keep the atmosphere light and fun, and always celebrate their efforts and progress.

Techniques for Reading Poetry Out Loud

Using Voice and Expression

When it comes to reading poetry out loud, using voice and expression is key. The beauty of poetry lies not only in the words themselves but also in the way they are delivered. A well-read poem can stir emotions, paint vivid images, and create a lasting impact on the listener.

Encourage children to experiment with their voice when reading poetry. They can play with volume, pitch, pace, and tone to bring the words to life. For instance, they could speak softly to convey a sense of mystery or whisper to create suspense.

Facial expressions and gestures can also add depth to a poetry reading. Encourage children to use their face and body to express the emotions conveyed in the poem. This will not only make their reading more engaging but also help them connect more deeply with the poem.

Remember to provide constructive feedback and praise, focusing on the effort and improvement rather than perfection. This will help children feel more confident and motivated to continue developing their reading skills.

Overcoming Stage Fright

Reading out loud, especially in front of others, can be a daunting task for many children. They may worry about making mistakes, forgetting the words, or not being able to convey the emotions effectively.

One effective strategy for overcoming these fears is to start small. Have children practice reading out loud in a safe and supportive environment, such as at home with family members. As they gain confidence, they can gradually start reading in front of larger groups.

Role-playing can also be a fun and effective way to help children overcome stage fright. They can pretend to be a famous poet or a character from the poem, which can make the experience more enjoyable and less intimidating.

Finally, remind children that it’s okay to make mistakes. What matters most is their effort and enthusiasm. With practice and perseverance, they will become more comfortable and skilled at reading poetry out loud.

Encouraging a Lifelong Love for Poetry

Fostering an appreciation for poetry shouldn’t be confined within the four corners of a classroom. It is possible, and indeed enriching, to weave poetry into the fabric of everyday life, sparking a lifelong love for this beautiful art form.

One way to incorporate poetry into daily life is through regular “poetry breaks”. Set aside a few minutes each day for the family to share and enjoy a poem together. This could be during breakfast, after dinner, or any time that suits your routine. It’s a wonderful opportunity not only to expose children to different styles and themes of poetry but also to instigate thought-provoking discussions.

Encourage children to explore poetry on their own by providing them with a variety of poetry books suitable for their age and reading level. Libraries and bookstores have collections of children’s poetry that are both entertaining and educational.

Additionally, there are numerous online resources, including websites and apps, that offer a vast array of poems along with helpful explanations and interpretations.

Creating a comfortable reading nook at home can also motivate children to spend more time reading. Make it cozy with cushions, good lighting, and a selection of their favorite poetry books.

Additionally, inspire children to write their own poems. They could write about their day, their dreams, or anything that sparks their imagination. Writing poetry can help children express their thoughts and feelings in a creative way, enhancing their language skills and emotional literacy.

Lastly, attend poetry readings and events with your child. Many libraries, bookstores, and schools host poetry readings and workshops for children. These events provide a great opportunity for children to hear professional poets and see how they use their voice and expression to bring their poems to life.

Remember, the goal is to make poetry a fun and enjoyable part of children’s lives. With the right approach, you can ignite a passion for poetry that lasts a lifetime.


In this article, we’ve explored the rewarding journey of introducing children to the world of poetry. We’ve discussed how to prepare children for reading poetry out loud, from choosing the right poems that spark their interest and are appropriate for their age, to practicing their reading skills through various exercises and activities.

We’ve also delved into the techniques for effective poetry reading, emphasizing the importance of using voice and expression, and shared strategies to help children overcome stage fright. Furthermore, we’ve offered tips to foster a lifelong love for poetry, suggesting ways to incorporate it into daily life and encouraging independent exploration.

The power of poetry lies in its ability to touch hearts, stir emotions, and stimulate the imagination. It provides a unique platform for children to express their feelings and ideas, enhancing their language skills and emotional literacy.

Teaching children to appreciate poetry not only enriches their literary experience but also nurtures their emotional growth and creative thinking.

As parents, teachers, or mentors, it’s our privilege and responsibility to unlock this beautiful world of poetry for our children. Let’s take them by the hand, lead them through the poetic landscapes, and watch as their understanding and love for poetry blossom.

The journey may require patience and effort, but the reward—seeing children engage with and enjoy poetry—is truly priceless.

Let us remember that every child is a potential poet, waiting to be awakened. So let’s ignite that spark, and who knows? We might just be nurturing the next great poet of our time.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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