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Poetry power for Dubai kids

Rhyming couplets and boisterous rhythm have a positive impact on language

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Experts in literacy and child development have long advocated the huge impact that poetry and rhyme has on language and reading skills in the early years. According to early childhood studies, kids who enjoy rhymes go on to become confident readers, so it’s no wonder why so many nurseries and pre-schools use them to engage children as they take their first faltering steps towards reading and writing.

Children’s laureate and esteemed author and poet Michael Rosen is a man who knows a thing or two about poetry and he has written some big rhyming books for little readers, including our favourite We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Naturally, he’s an advocate of the important part poetry plays in children’s literacy and language development. “Poetry usually has hooks, or ways in which language and ideas are made memorable,” he tells us. “Often, these will be rhythm and rhyme, or sounds that echo each other. If you make links between these enjoyable sounds and the written word then you have a winning formula to aid literacy in
your child.”

You can see this amid the books stashed away in the libraries of many pre-schools and nursery classrooms, as well as the classic bedtime stories you read together. That’s why writers such as Rosen and Julia Donaldson (Room on the Broom), even Dr Seuss with his crazy and mischievous cat in the hat, continue to entertain and captivate little imaginations. Rosen says it’s because rhyming stories, poems and nursery rhymes scoop up the language all around and use it to engage and empower children.

Sharing a poem doesn’t have to be limited to school or bedtime, either. Nor does it need to be boring. You can incorporate poetry into all aspects of life. Rosen explains: “Play with songs and poems when you are going about your day, change the words to suit what you are doing. Children react to that.”

Monica Valrani, CEO of Ladybird Nursery and Early Learning Centre, is another supporter of the power poetry plays in early years development. “Rhymes and poems really impact on language development in early years and create a love for language in little ones,” she says. “They form the basis in developing early literacy skills as children hear different sounds, which eventually help in word building. Regular reading also gives them more vocabulary to express themselves and often children speak faster and are better readers and spellers.”

Making poetry interactive and an enjoyable experience for your child will spark their interest, Valrani also advises. “Good eye contact is important, as children tend to mimic your words and facial expressions.”

So, find your theatrical voice and get rhyming, then just sit back and watch their word count grow.

Don’t miss Rhyming books

Room on the Broom
By Julia Donaldson

A favourite in homes across the city. Find out if you can grin like the witch and purr like the cat. We don’t doubt that the little ones will love it. Meow!
Dhs46, www.kinokuniya.com.

Space Rocks
By Ian Billings and Chris White

Blast off to another planet, and boldly go where others go with this collection of space-themed poetry. Because, who doesn’t love an alien in the toilet?
From Dhs49 rental fee, www.bookish.ae.

The Cat in the Hat
By Dr Seuss

This one gives you plenty of scope to try your best crazy cat voice while pretending to balance a cake on a rake. It’s a necessary classic.
Dhs39, www.kinokuniya.com.

We’re going on a Bear Hunt
By Michael Rosen

A true classic. Turn the garden into an adventure as you climb the mountains and wade through the water, while you squelch in the mud searching for a bear.
Dhs39, www.kinokuniya.com.

By Emer O’Doherty
Time Out Dubai,

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