Monday, June 13, 2011

Poetry 101

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Introducing your child to poetry at an early age can be very beneficial for them. The casual reading and study of poetry gets them used to rhythmic patterns in sound, deciphering the art and the meaning behind the author's words (helpful later on when poets like Shakespeare and Dante are introduced), and the beauty and the flow of artistic language (helps with creative and/or essay writing).

If you have little ones, you can start with something as simple as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and build from there. One of my favorites as a child is The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson and I absolutely LOVE anything by Shel Silverstein. I still have very fond memories of my first grade teacher reading to us from Silverstein's books. When she retired and moved away at the end of a subsequent school year, she generously gave me a copy of two of his books, and now I read to my girls from the very same well-used copies.
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For Muslims and non-Muslims alike: A great study of poetry can also be made of the Qur'an. The language is beautiful, thought-provoking and deep, yet easy to understand; I'm not at all biased, see for yourself. 

A note: there are some historical and purely contextual elements that you should familiarize yourself with before teaching certain parts of the Qur'an so that they make sense and can be taught accurately and with understanding. A great website to help you, as the teacher and parent with this is under Qur'an translation and tafseer you'll click on Taleem Al Qur'an (English)/Amina Elahi. This tafseer is very clear and moving. Hers only goes up to the first five Parts of the Qur'an but there's a brief tafseer of all 30 parts that's great for Ramadan and other times, as well as a continuation by Hijab Iqbal.
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Teaching Moments*:
Be sure to read the author's name along with anything you read to your child, especially poetry. This familiarizes them with well-known authors and poets and after awhile they may come to recognize and compare different styles of writing.

Some links to check out:

*Life with kids is full of teaching opportunities and they are easily recognizable the more you practice looking for them. After awhile, they'll emerge on their own and you'll teach on the fly without even batting an eyelash, I promise. I will try my best to spotlight them in future posts.

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