Children’s Poetry that Every Adult Should Read
Charles Causley famously once stated that writing poetry for younger and older audiences is a very similar experience. Although we often assume children’s poetry isn’t for the older generations, poetry for kids can reveal important life lessons and values that we may have forgotten with age. In accordance with The Maker’s current submissions theme of children’s writing, we have complied a short list of some must-read children’s poetry for us grown folks.
‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carol
While probably a familiar favourite, this poem deserves every ounce of its recognition. Its ability to play and have absurdist, made up fun with the English language renders it truly enjoyable for adults. The poem is even responsible for adding words to the dictionary, including ‘chortle.’ I firmly believe it should be read by all adults for its sheer fun, reminding us that literature can bring us playfulness as well as serious reflection.
‘Life Doesn’t Frighten Me’ by Maya Angelou
This poem sees Angelou list dozens of scary situations including dragons, barking dogs, fighting boys and snakes. However, she rejects them all with the dismissive phrase, ‘life doesn’t frighten me at all.’ While this poem may be useful in teaching children to believe in themselves and stand up to their fears, its message rings equally true for adults. It reminds us to not get bogged down in the everyday fears that life brings us, but instead to have confidence in ourselves and our choices and trust things will work out as they are meant to.
‘Reading’ by Jaqueline Woodson
Though more aimed at adolescent audiences, this poem perfectly displays how poetry can represent our everyday experiences. ‘Reading’ tells the story of a young girl struggling to read aloud, where her teacher ridicules her for reading too slowly, too quickly, or too childishly. The girl rejects the criticism instead choosing to absorb and enjoy the story instead of internalising the criticism. The poem teaches adults and children alike that instead of focusing on the words and opinions of others, we must focus and interpret our own stories. We should ignore the judgemental options of others and live our life the way we’ll know we’ll most enjoy it.
‘Mystery’ by Naomi Shihab Nye
A short but impactful poem, it simply expresses the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. While at first read it may seem humorous, on deeper reflection this poem represents that life-long struggles that mothers and daughters face throughout their relationship. It’s well worth the read for people of all ages to understand that special and complex bond between mother and daughter.
If you feel so inclined, why not have a go at writing your own poetry for children? We’re accepting submissions all month, so get to exploring your fun and creative side. Submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the call for content on our blog for more info.
Written by The Maker’s digital intern, Anna Craig