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Lovereading4kids Poetry Highlights from Michael Rosen Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate 2007-2009 on Poetry: Michael Rosen Michael Rosen is a poet and huge supporter of children's poetry has given us his views on poetry - written especially for Lovereading4kids.


"Poetry is a special way of talking and writing. Poems are often musical, playing with the sounds of language while they tell stories, reveal feelings, make pictures and give us ideas. We all find this pleasurable, but children especially so. I guess that's because for very young children, language often comes at them as something they hear without necessarily understanding it. Then poems come along and hit the same channel, sound, rhythm, rhyme, repetition and all the other tricks in the poet's bag.

Poems are also places where you don't have to say it all, they don't have to tie it up in a neat knot in the way that stories usually do. Poems can end with questions. Poems can end with no answers. Poems can pose problems. And that's fine, because life doesn't usually finish with neat little endings. Life itself is full of questions and problems. Particularly for children.

Poetry is great for what is almost the opposite of this: pretending we aren't who we say we are. Poets write poems where they pretend to be goddesses, houses, worms, graves, long dead ancestors, aliens. This allows poets to explore feelings they didn't know they had, and in so doing, they invite children to wonder about other lives, other states of existence, other possibilities.

Poems are often full of echoes, gathering together hints and memories of other poems, other stories, films, signs, speeches. They gather up and change words. It's as if poems like this point us at the very language we see and hear around us and invite us to stop, think and wonder if the words we are used to are right, honest or worthwhile. For children, this is especially important. If you think for a moment, very nearly all children enter school, using a language that is theirs, only to find that school is full of language that seems to belong to other people. If poetry plays with language and, through its music, invites children to remember and imitate it, this becomes a language that they can possess."

photograph - Graham Turner


Poetry is fun. Do not spoil it.

Do not make children read this book for homework. If you do you may be vaporized by a death ray.

Poems are allowed to have rude words because they are literature, so bum to you.

Do not ask children how these poems make them feel. It is a stupid question.

Do not try to analyse these poems: they may self-detonate.

If you can’t see the sense of it, that’s probably your fault.

Poems do not have to be written in grammatical sentences or have correct
punctuation, so nurch.

Do not tell people off for daydreaming. Poems come from daydreams.

Never make anyone copy out a poem. It spoils it.

Do not make children read these poems aloud in front of the whole class. If you do, you will be kidnapped by aliens and taken to Alpha Centauri and forced to mark Year Six homework for a thousand years.

Issued by the Galactic Authority and dictated by telepathy to Ken Follett, who wrote it all down with no crossings out.


National Poetry Day is held every autumn - you can find out more about this event and download a special free anthology of wonderful poems, both old and new from poets including Brian Moses, Rachel Rooney and Michaela Morgan. Find out more here.