Chapter 8: Poetry chapter summary and outline

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Chapter 8: Poetry
Although poetry eludes definition, it has certain characteristics that distinguish it from prose. Children’s poetry must be related to familiar experiences of childhood and should not be didactic or overly sentimental. Teachers need to know the language of poetry for their use; children should not be required to analyze poetry for technical elements. Poetry is developed with the use of rhythm; elements of sound, including rhyme; sensory imagery; figurative language; shape; and emotional intensity. Children’s poetry is written in several forms: ballads, narrative poems, lyrical poems, limericks, free verse, haiku, and concrete poems. Results of research studies over sixty years indicate certain stability in children’s poetry preferences at primary and intermediate grade levels. Trends in publishing include an increase in poetry books and an expanded range of subject matter. This range includes humorous verse, poems related to the world of childhood, nature poems, and multicultural poems. Many poets are quite versatile in their offerings. Anthologies no longer stay in print for long periods of time due to copyright restrictions; thus, there are many collections of specialized poems and picture-book editions of single poems. Poor selection of poems, neglect of poetry, required memorization of poems, and too-detailed analysis of poems are practices that contribute to the misuse of poetry. Teachers who are truly committed to poetry are those who make available to children a strong poetry-book collection, who connect poetry with prose and topics across the curriculum, who provide listening areas and visual displays of poetry, who make time for sharing and allowing children to read poetry daily, who have built their personal files of individual poems that are immediately accessible in the classroom, and who present poetry with enthusiasm. There are techniques for discussing poetry with children, for helping children practice writing poetry from models, and for sustaining writing of meaningful poetry. Choral reading encourages interest in poetry. Teachers should provide opportunities for children to develop an appreciation of poetry. In poetry workshops, students may use models to begin writing poetry. They learn to write about what they know and learn to critique and revise their poetry writing.

A. Poetry for Children

B. The Elements of Poetry

1. Rhythm

2. Rhyme and Sound

3. Imagery

4. Figurative Language: Comparison and Contrast

5. Shape

6. Emotional Force

C. Forms of Poetry for Children

1. Ballads

2. Narrative Poems

3. Lyrical Poetry

4. Limericks

5. Free Verse

6. Haiku

7. Concrete Poetry


A. Children’s Poetry Preferences

B. Poets and Their Books

1. Humorous Verse

2. Interpreters of the World of Childhood

3. Multicultural Poetry

4. Poets of Nature

5. Versatile Poets

C. Anthologies of Poems for Children

1. Comprehensive Poetry Collections

2. Specialized Collections

3. Picture-Book Editions of Single Poems


A. Creating a Climate for Enjoyment

B. Finding Time for Poetry

C. Reading Poetry to Children

D. Discussing Poetry with Children

E. Children Writing Poetry

1. Using Models from Literature

2. Poetry Workshop

F. Choral Reading


  • Study the informal outline at the beginning of the chapter to organize your reading.


  • Find six characteristics of poetry that can be used to describe what poetry is.

  • Be able to give examples of rhythm and imagery as elements of poetry.

  • Know the devices that give distinctive sound to poetry.

  • Know the devices of figurative language that allow comparisons and contrasts in poetry.

  • Explain how poetry gains meaning from shape.

  • Be able to use the “Questions for Evaluating Poetry for Children.”

  • Distinguish the differences among these forms of poetry: ballads, narrative poems, lyrical poems, limericks, free verse, haiku, concrete poetry.

  • Know writers of multicultural poems and show awareness of their work.


  • Determine the poetry preferences of children according to the Terry and the Fisher and Natarella studies.

  • Determine three appropriate guidelines teachers can follow when selecting poems for children.

  • Learn about recent trends in the publication of poetry.

  • Find what distinguishes poetry from verse.

  • Skim the sections that describe poets and their work, stopping to read more carefully about specific poems that you might want to read.

  • Be able to use the “Questions for Evaluating Poetry Anthologies” guidelines.

  • Skim the charts on “Comprehensive Poetry Anthologies,” “Specialized Collections of Poetry” and “Picture-Book Editions of Single Poems.”


  • Find four ways in which poetry is misused in the classroom.

  • Be able to describe a classroom that has a good climate for poetry.

  • Skim the chart on “Poetry/Prose Connections.” Select one group and read the books to learn firsthand what is meant by the connections.

  • Find ways in which poetry can be shared with children. Practice poetry-reading techniques recommended in the text.

  • Find two guidelines for discussing poetry.

  • Seek ways that students can use models in poetry writing.

  • Determine how teachers can provide guidelines in poetry workshops for children’s poetry writing.

  • Find five types of choral speaking arrangements.

  • Determine the value of choral reading.

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