Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

When it can be confusing even to adults, how can children be encouraged to read and learn from poetry? Poetry analysis can be complicated, but with the appropriate activities and guidance, even children can appreciate the poetry.

Who says poetry is only for a certain age?

Author Brion K. Hanks has written what he deems a book about poetry for all ages. Although he is composed of longer verses, compared to poetry commonly read to children, this doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t meant for any younger audience. His book is filled with beautifully constructed poems that appeal to any audience capable of understanding and imagination.

However, the association between children and poetry is not quite sharpened or encouraged. When adults hear poetry, they’d likely think of Shakespeare’s sonnets or see longer compositions like those written by Brion K. Hanks and think they’re unsuitable for children. Although most poems do dabble in complex compositional poetry analysis, children will have trouble comprehending; this doesn’t mean poetry is limited to these properties.

Is There Such a Thing as Poetry Suitable for Children?

There’s an apparent difference between poetry meant for an older audience and those suitable for children. While adults can enjoy good and simple poetry, no parent will hand a Shakespearean poem to a seven-year-old and leave them fending for themselves. They must scan the material and consider if it’s age-appropriate or assist their children in understanding the material.

Some may argue that poems aren’t suitable for children, seeing how they can be pretty complicated to read and understand. However, others might beg to disagree. While it may be rather complex, poetry is still, in essence, a single message written with rhythmicity and beautifully. With proper support, children may also break the pieces down and understand them genuinely.

Adults shouldn’t be intimidated by poetry’s intricacy and question whether children have enough competence and skills for poetry analysis. After all, what good is literary material if it doesn’t support growth for children? And one way to encourage growth in children’s skills is by challenging their current level. The more parents stay within their comforts, their skills will stagnate.

Poetry Analysis for Children

What’s excellent about poetry is that there’s no right or wrong way to analyze it. Poets may have written them with specific messages in mind, but when another reads them, poems become open for varying interpretations. Poetry is rarely meant to be taken literary, so poetry analysis may also differ between individuals. This freedom is what makes poetry fun and inspiring for children.

To prove how fun poetry analysis can be for children, let’s try unraveling the message behind one of Mr. Hanks’ pieces: Traveler of the Universe.

Identify the Key or the Central Message

Before diving deeper into the poetry analysis, it’s essential to establish whether the child understands the poem’s key message. Stop making things complicated and start with the verses’ simple meaning.

After reading the poetry, adults can start by asking children what they’ve understood. Encourage them to answer by reminding them there’s no right or wrong response to their questions. They may also be persuaded to expound their answers by asking probing questions. Remember, the primary goal of this step is to let them understand the more straightforward message behind the poetry. They can do so by breaking the long composition down and taking what they may have understood from the single stanza or line.

Adults also have a crucial part in this process, as they serve as the guide or “translator” for every stanza. They might also have to step in and explain the necessary metaphors throughout the poem. What does “traveler” stand for? Who is it symbolizing in the poem?

Break Down Poetic Techniques

A key element in every poem is the poetic techniques it utilizes. After the simpler message has been uncovered, adults can start explaining what techniques they can identify throughout the poem.

In Traveler of the Universe, the metaphor “Upon the ladder of life you must climb” uses vivid imagery of how challenging life can be by comparing it to a ladder one must climb. From this line alone, adults can begin digging deeper, asking children why they think this is so. Or, what else can they understand from the other lines?

Passing It On

Children can be encouraged to create their version once the message and techniques have been identified. How can they create a single line or stanza conveying the same message? And, of course, with the adult’s aid, they may even use the same techniques found in the poem.

Remember, poetry analysis isn’t similar to how one solves a puzzle. It isn’t strict nor has limited ways of solving or unraveling. Adults and children can have fun reading through them, as there’s no right or wrong way to analyze what they mean.