"When Ralph Waldo Emerson said that poetry “teaches us the power of a few words” he pinpointed the gift that simple poetry gives to young readers. Verse—free or more formally constructed, including everything from couplets, cinquains, and quatrains to haiku or jump-rope jingles, limericks, and song lyrics—all can introduce young readers, and those who are not yet readers to the wonders of rhythmic language. It is language they can appreciate and respond to with ease.
There is probably no hard definition of poetry for children; one is not necessary. But in their introduction to The Oxford Book of Children's Verse (1973) Iona and Peter OPIE differentiated between poetry originally written for children and poetry that, like FAIRY TALES, became theirs through use and adoption. The Opies, renowned anthologists and literary historians, noted that before the mid-eighteenth century there was little written for children that was not exhortative; to be for a child poems had to be edifying. Writing that “verse for children tends to be intimately related to the period in which it was written” they added that “Wordsworth's ballads link the eighteenth century to the new awareness of children in the nineteenth century.” As I reread those words the twenty-first century is upon us. Poetry for everyone, young and old, appears to be everywhere." -- "Poetry In Children's Literature." Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. London: Continuum, 2005. Credo Reference. Web. 28 September 2012.
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