Poets Around the World

Multicultural Kid Blogs is proud to celebrate National Poetry Month with a this printable activity pack that introduces children to poets around the world!

Poetry is important for children.

If you are a parent, all you have to do is take one look at your home library and examine your children’s first books. Nursery rhymes, finger plays, lullabies… children’s books are filled with poetry. That’s because children are instinctively drawn to the rhythm and the cadence of a poem.

It gives their little bodies something to move to and captures their imaginations. From Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to Tumble, Bumble to Green Eggs and Ham, poems are beloved by children everywhere. Why? Because verses are easier to memorize when they follow a particular rhythm. And that makes it so much more fun to read, too!

This introduction of rhymes to children is universal. Cultures all around the globe use forms of poetry in their nursery rhymes and other children’s literature. Some examples are:

  • Los pollitos dicen (The Little Chicks Say) is a popular children’s rhyme throughout Latin America
  • Donguri Korokoro (A Rolling Acorn) is known throughout Japan
  • Frères Jacques (Brother John) is instantly recognized not just in France, but around the world
  • In De Maneschijn (In the Moonlight) is a favorite Dutch children’s song (Read more about Dutch nursery rhymes here!)
  • Vezeni most (Embroidered Bridge) is memorized and recited by Bosnian school children
  • O Pato (The Duck) is often read by first graders in Brazil
  • and in India, children know the story of Machali jal ki Rani hai (Machali is Fish is the Queen of Water) 

Unfortunately, at least here in the United States, a child’s love of poetry doesn’t always carry into adulthood. Crystal Sands, founder of the parenting site “Pajamas, Books, and Chickens,” theorizes in an article for the Huffington Post that children may begin to reject it in school when they are required to memorize and recite poetry in front of the class. She feels the fear of public speaking creates a negative experience for young poetry lovers.

Poetry plays a valuable role in education.

There’s no question about the educational value of a great poem. For children, especially, poetry is an educational tool that teaches and develops important skills and concepts.

Poems introduce children to new vocabulary. For example, words like contrary, leap, cushion, fiddle, tuffet, buckle and so many others that might not be commonplace in daily conversation are learned with Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

Children also learn language foundations, such as sentence structure, by listening to these engaging stories. Different languages have different word placement in sentences. And listening to poetry helps kids understand how to communicate effectively and accurately in their own language.

Most children’s poetry is rich in imagery, too, helping children to interpret language. This imagery can also help children begin to develop their critical thinking skills because as children grow and continue to read more complex poetry, symbolism becomes more common. A child is then required to read, evaluate, analyze, and interpret the message being presented.

And all of these skills and concepts are developed and solidified through repetition, which is why so many children insist that their (sometimes exasperated) parents read the same book or books to them over and over again.

Poetry makes the world a better place.

Everything I’ve mentioned is important for a child’s development, but poetry isn’t just for children. Generally speaking, more complex themes, situations, emotions, and nuances may run through poems written for adults – who greatly benefit from reading them, too.

In a wonderful article in the Harvard Business Review, John Coleman shares The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals which may be applied to adults, in general. In it, he talks about how poetry requires the reader to “wrestle with and simplify complexity,” a much-needed skill in today’s world without a doubt. He also says that it develops our sense of empathy and boosts our creativity.

Young or old, perhaps poetry’s greatest gift to us is how it teaches us to empathize and connect with one another by presenting situations and emotions that we as readers can relate to. Poems give us glimpses into the lives of others. They help us understand that at our core, all of us are the same. We all experience joy, fear, sadness, loss, and love. These emotions are what we all share.

Poets are found all around the world.

As you can see from the few examples I listed above, every culture has its own poets. They work hard to find just the right words to reach out to readers and pluck a string in our hearts. They reflect their culture’s traditions and ways of life not just for readers within their own culture, but also for foreigners. Part of their job is to make every reader see our interconnectedness – our sameness – whether it be a person from their own culture or a foreign one.

We have something for you!

In honor of National Poetry Month, we have put together a unique packet of reading passages featuring 18 poets from around the world. Not all of them have written poems for children, though most have. But they are all famous in their country or region, and most of them are recognized around the world for their poems that reflect their culture or that highlight the shared human experience.

Best suited for kids ages 8 to 13, your children or students can travel the world through time and history learning about remarkable people. Some lived a long time ago, and some are living today. But each one is famous in their country or region for their beautiful poetry.

Our packet has a one-page reading passage for each poet that describes their life, followed by a set of comprehension questions. In addition, we have included comprehension worksheets that boost vocabulary, writing, and critical thinking skills. An introduction to different types of poetry and poetry activities, as well as a recommended reading list for further research, finish up this packet.

The best part is that this is a no-prep, print-and-go download that you can immediately access after purchasing.

To find out which poets are featured or to purchase your copy, click here.

Happy learning!

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Monica Olivera is a homeschooling mami of two and freelance education writer. Her website, MommyMaestra.com, shares resources for Latino parents who homeschool or have children in a traditional school system. Monica is also the co-founder of Latinas for Latino Lit and the L4LL Latino Children's Summer Reading Program.

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