Listen out for: The Children’s Poetry Archive

‘Hearing a poet reading his or her work remains uniquely illuminating. It helps us to understand the work as well as helping us to enjoy it. Writers have a particular right to their own work and we are taken to a deeper level of understanding by hearing how they speak it. This is a powerful source of insight, understanding and enjoyment to all lovers of literature and a valuable resource for students of any age.’ The Poetry Archive

Poetry doesn’t just live in books – it lives in the sounds that words make. When we read poems out loud we breathe life into them and we can picture them in our imagination. The Children’s Poetry Archive is a place where you can listen to poems read out loud. You will find poems read by the poets who wrote them as well as poems which other people have recorded.

Designed with the younger use in mind, it is a place where they can explore poetry in their own time and at their own pace, engendering a love for poetry which will last them a lifetime.

You can search by looking for your favourite poem, or by having a look through the list of poets (listed alphabetically, from Adham Smart to Wes Magee). There are great interviews on the site too with poets including James Berry, Jackie Kay and Brian Moses amongst others.

And you can search by collection, for example, the new CLiPPA Collection which features poems by previous winners of the CLiPPA, Steven Camden, Grace Nichols, John Agard and Rachel Rooney and Roger McGough among others.

Plus, you’ll find lots of advice and help. Why not try these tips for example, on the best way for children to listen to a poem.

Time to Listen

Like a piece of music, a poem needs to be lifted off the page, to be spoken and heard. For young children, much of the pleasure is in a poem’s sound, while older children often don’t mind if they don’t fully understand a poem that they hear.

Most poems are best encountered first by hearing. The more we listen to poetry, the more we become tuned in to the way meaning is conveyed through sound.

In your own time

Don’t rush children into making a prescribed response to a poem. Ensure they have time to get inside it and to respond in their own way.

TIP: Remember that poetry is a ‘slow’ art form. Some poems need time to unfold their meaning. Poetry seeds you plant now may bear fruit many years from now.

Wait for the poet

Read the poem, listen to performances by other readers – and only then listen to the poet. Discuss how the mood and meaning have changed. Picture this

Get children to close their eyes and imagine the scene as you read. You could model this with a different poem first, telling them what you see after each line. Eventually, children could draw or write about their scene.

Hear that

Read a poem that conjures a soundscape. Ask children to notice all the different sounds it describes. They could try creating, and then recording, ‘the soundtrack of the poem’.

Let children experience and reflect on something before you introduce the poem about it.

No ‘Likes’

Avoid the question, did you like that poem? (Though children may tell you anyway, especially if they didn’t!) Instead, encourage them to think about what they heard, saw and felt.

All join in!

As you keep reading a poem, encourage them to start joining in – especially if there’s a refrain, repeated line, or obvious end-rhyme.

I know the feeling Collect some poems on a theme. Before reading any, discuss the theme and ask children to write down their thoughts or feelings about it. Read the poems, then ask children to choose one line or phrase which best fits own idea or feeling about it. Then ask them which one challenges their ideas?

Name that poem

Read a poem without giving away the title, then ask children to suggest some possibilities. Reveal the actual title and compare the children’s suggestions. How does each change the meaning of the poem?

Listening corner

For poems with strong imagery, children can decide on a series of images and create illustrations or a storyboard.

14 Books for Keeps National Poetry Day 2020

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