Encourage Literacy & Self Expression During National Poetry Month!

The power of words
Expressed in rhythmic beauty
April’s gift to all

– A haiku by Logan Brody, amateur poet and public media enthusiast

April is National Poetry Month! With the springtime comes a renewed sense of creative energy, and there’s no better time to start exploring the wide world of poetry – one of the oldest art forms known to humankind. Haiku, sonnet, spoken word, epic, limerick, ode… the list of poetic forms goes on and on. Poetry can be used to voice our innermost thoughts, feelings and impulses, or to interpret the world around us through vivid description and inventive wordplay. It’s also a great way to encourage literacy and self expression with children of all ages. Try using poetry as an “anywhere, anytime” activity, flexing kids’ brainpower and willingness to share.

Appreciate poetry in all its forms this month with the articles, activities, profiles on notable poets, and more below.

Jump to article sections:

Explore the Art of Poetry

Sons of Poetry | Sesame Street

Grades PreK-K
The Sons of Poetry circle their bikes to find the perfect rhyme. Explore poetry and practice rhyming with this parody video.

Your Child’s a Poet, and Here’s How to Show It

Grades PreK-3
There’s a really easy way to spice up your child’s reading and writing routine: poetry! Sprinkling poems into your usual mix can keep reading time fresh while boosting literacy skills. 

Starting Out | Engaging with Literature

Grades 3-5
Learn new techniques to help students make personal connections to poetry in this 20-minute video. Jonathan Holden’s 4th-grade class discusses poems in small groups, create “puzzles” and write their own poems to connect to texts.

Transformation: Get Lit and the Power of Poetry

Grades 6-12
Increase teen literacy through the power of spoken word with the unique stories of five Get Lit poets. Use the collection’s activities, prompts, and discussion questions to support learning both inside and outside of the classroom with Common Core-aligned mini-lessons.

Poetry in America

Grades 6-12
Poetry in America gathers distinguished interpreters from all walks of life to explore and debate 12 unforgettable American poems. Athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages join together with host and Harvard professor Elisa New to experience and share the power of poetry.

Learn About Notable Poets

Remember | Poetry Read Along with Joy Harjo

Grades PreK-3
Join PBS KIDS and United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo in a very special reading of one of her poems, “Remember” from her book, “How We Became Humans.”

Walt Whitman | Journalist and Poet Video

Grades 3-8
Walt Whitman was a progressive voice and innovative writer during a critical period of change in the United States. In the midst of the Civil War, his poetic and journalistic works, spanning topics from the personal to the political, marked the start of a new era for American literature. Whitman’s powerful poetry revealed his personality and depicted the United States as a place worthy of both high praise and sharp criticism.

Langston Hughes | Know Ohio

Grades 3-8
In this video from Know Ohio, Mary discusses jazz poetry and one of its leading pioneers, Ohioan Langston Hughes. Hughes spends his early impressionable years in Cleveland. 

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise | American Masters

Grades 6-12
Distinctly referred to as “a redwood tree, with deep roots in American culture,” icon Maya Angelou gave people the freedom to think about their history in a way they never had before. Dr Angelou’s was a prolific life; as a singer, dancer, activist, poet, and writer she inspired generations with lyrical modern African-American thought that pushed boundaries.

Confessional Poet John Berryman | Rediscovering John Berryman

Grades 9-12
Introduce students to the American poet John Berryman, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry titled The Dream Songs. Watch video clips from the documentary Rediscovering John Berryman and explore the literary context of Berryman’s poetry and the concept of poetry as political commentary.

Activities, Books & More

Grover’s Rhyme Time Game

Grades PreK-K
Learn all about rhyming with Grover in this fun train game! Conductor Grover leads the way as you drive the train and pick which words rhyme. Don’t forget to blow the whistle! Choo Choo!

Write and Play Found Poetry

Grades PreK-3
Found poetry, often described as the literary equivalent of a collage, is when you take existing words, phrases or passages and re-frame them to create poetry. Help your child play with words and express herself to create found poetry.

The Best of Shel Silverstein

Grades PreK-4
Say the name “Shel Silverstein” aloud and adults and children alike think of clever, sometimes subversive, poems with comic line drawings and lots of laughs. You know that when you pick up a book by this writer and poet you’re in good hands. Find familiar and less familiar books on this list — and celebrate language, poetry, and an astute creator of books for children of all ages.

Discovering Your Voice Through Poetry Lesson Plan

Grades 6-12
This PBS NewsHour Extra lesson plan introduces students to the poetry of Rafael Campo and helps students to find their own voice while gaining confidence writing their own original poetry.

Elements of Poetry

Grades 6-12
In this interactive lesson, discover how literary techniques like figurative language, imagery, and symbolism contribute to the overall meaning of a poem. Explore how a poet establishes and builds on a theme. Learn how to tell the difference between tone and mood. Through a close reading of Maya Angelou’s famous poem “Caged Bird” (1983), practice unpacking the language of poetry while learning about some of the various tools a writer can utilize when writing a poem.

Literary & Poetry Organizations

Adirondack Center for Writing

The Adirondack Center for Writing brings people and words together. The ACW cultivates the art of writing and the joy of reading; celebrate the power of language to invite discovery, to create an understanding of people and sense of place, and to build a community. This National Poetry Month, be sure to enjoy the many poems hanging in windows throughout Saranac Lake contributed by ACW community members involved in their PoemVillage program. And don’t miss the poetry machine making its way around the Adirondacks!

Quebec Writers’ Federation

The Quebec Writers’ Federation provides English-language programs, services, opportunities, and community for aspiring, emerging, and established writers and the wider community. QFC works to undertake activities which will increase public awareness of the literary arts and of literary institutions within the province.

Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America is the nation’s oldest poetry organization, founded in 1910, placing poetry at the crossroads of American life. The PSA transforms public spaces into sites for imaginative encounters with poems, engages diverse and often underserved communities, amplifies the voices of poets around issues of common concern, and honors their aesthetic contributions to our lives.

Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation organizes and hosts free live events, engaging, multifaceted exhibitions that bring together visual arts and the written word, and digital programs on its website, social media and free Poetry app.