Youth Mentoring & Speaking at Schools | Best Short Poems for Kids to Recite
I’ve become passionate about mentoring kids, talking about poetry and sharing some of the best short poems for kids to recite. Youth mentoring and speaking is one of the driving forces in my life. I often find myself either discussing poetry or philosophy in some way or form at these events.
Performing poetry for kids and children at a Montessori school was an insightful and unique experience, a portion of which you can watch in the video above. When such young children are looking at you and waiting for your voice, you get overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility. You essentially become a children’s mentor. In this instance, my method of mentoring children was through a spoken word poem I performed called “Choices.”
sharing simple poems for kids to recite
My goal was to teach children that they all have choices … choices to smile, choices to be happy, choices to do homework and choices to express themselves and be who they are. At first, the poem was geared towards young adults, but I chose to adjust the words so that it’s more fitting for elementary students. Children love simple poems that they can remember and recite, especially when the lines rhyme. For example, here are the short rhyming lines we recited together from “Choices:”
Everybody has choices
You got a choice
And I got a choice
Everybody’s got a voice
Watching the children recite the poem and get excited as I was reading it was a unique experience for me. It made me realize the tenderness of their age. Mentoring kids and mentoring children will become my focus for the next few years as I grow my art and create content for all ages.
I think it’s imperative to teach our children about the choices that they have and will always have. I know when I was younger, I used to take my choices for granted. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of each choice I make.
the power of short rhyming poems
Mentoring children through my art of poetry allowed them to feel free in expressing their art even at the tender age of two or three years old. It was beautiful to watch. I even encouraged some parents to create simple poems for kids so that they can recite them to their children … easy poems for kids that they can follow and learn about cadence, attitude and energy … poems for young children will allow them to observe the human voice and the art of writing at the same time … plus classic rhyming poems and nursery rhymes that have the power to stick with kids for their entire lives, so they can be shared with the next generations.
You don’t have to rhyme words to be a poet. You don’t have to be a certain age to be a poet. You just have to be able to express a little bit of your thoughts and emotions. And that’s exactly what I want kids to understand when I teach them about poetry. Teaching the art of poetry to our children at a young age will allow them to always embrace a creative side as they get older.
best short rhyming poems for kids
What are some of the best short poems for kids to recite?
Short rhyming poems tend to be easier for young children to remember, which is why nursery rhymes are so powerful. Think of classics like Itsy Bitsy Spider (a favorite of young toddlers), “Mother Hubbard” (dating back to the 18th Century) and all the rhyming poetry of Mother Goose. There’s a reason why these short rhyming poems have been passed down for generations: the lines rhyme with ease, making them simple to remember and recite. For example, consider these memorable lines from Humpty Dumpty:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again!
For older children, poems can have more complex rhyme schemes – or, they don’t have to rhyme at all. Classics from Dr. Suess (Theodor Seuss Geisel), like “The Cat in the Hat” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” may be more like rhyming stories, but some of their lines are still incredibly memorable. Also, it doesn’t necessarily matter what type of rhyme it is: when the lines rhyme, kids love to recite it (and, admittedly, adults do too).
But I also strongly encourage parents and teachers to expand beyond these classic short children’s poems and nursery rhymes to works from other famous poets (including poets who didn’t necessarily write for children) …
start with any famous poet and expand from there
Consider a famous poet like Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost or African American poet Langston Hughes. Their works are some of the most revered in history. And while their poems weren’t necessarily intended for children, there are plenty of works you can share with kids to illustrate that poems can take many forms.
For example, consider these kid-friendly verses in the famous poem “The Squirrel” by Emily Dickinson:
Up he goes
To the tree top!
Round and round
Down he scampers
To the ground.
What a tail!
Tall as a feather
Broad as a sail
Teenagers can upgrade to the more complex rhyme schemes of poets like Ralph Waldo Emerson, like these first few lines of his famous poem “Woodnotes I” …
When the pine tosses its cones
To the song of its waterfall tones,
Who speeds to the woodland walks?
To birds and trees who talks?
Even when the themes and meanings become more challenging to decipher, these works remain fun poems for kids to recite, and it helps them to experience a greater breadth of poetry and language.
Many of Langston Hughes’ poems have been republished in books of short children’s poems for young adults. The Academy of American Poets highlights Hughes’ “Dream Variations” on its list of poems that kids love, alongside other great works like Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” “Sick” by Shel Silverstein, and “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe.
This is only a very short list, which is why I encourage parents and educators to expand beyond the “greats” to other works by lesser-known poets. There are so many other short children’s poems for kids to recite out there, which you can share with children in any age group to help them grow their appreciation for poetry.
Speaker and Poet: Kabir Singh
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