A crash course in poetry appreciation for your high schooler
At a glance
- Knowing how ideas are organised in a poem can often help your teen to make sense of it.
- Suggest to your teen to read the poem they're studying out loud to get a clearer understanding of it.
- Encourage your teen to work through a poem themselves before going online to seek others' opinions of it.
- Use a good quality dictionary, in hard copy or online, to check the meanings of difficult words.
- Find poems (or song lyrics) that you enjoy and share these with your teen.
English expert Michael Murray talks about ways to help your teen appreciate poetry.
Read poetry aloud
Use a ‘no rush' policy
Tell your teen not to rush into analysing the poem. Give the poem time to sink in, and suggest they try to immerse themselves in the sensory and emotional experience of poetry before applying their thinking skills.
What about poetry structure?
Knowing how ideas are organised in a poem can often help your teen to make sense of it. Ask them to take the time to look at the poem's structure.
Get a dictionary and look for similes and metaphors
Use a good quality dictionary, in hard copy or online, to check the meanings of difficult words. Then work through the poem verse by verse to establish what the poem means. Suggest to your teen to consider whether there is a deeper meaning to the poem than first meets the eye. In particular, ask them to note how the poet uses language – such as similes, metaphors and personification – to communicate at this deeper level.
Look at both sides of the poem
There's often more than one way to look at a poem. Ask your teen to justify their reading of it or to consider another interpretation. Your teen should be prepared to back up their ideas using the words and meanings in the poem.
Delay going online to find answers to poems
The web can provide sources of information about well-known poems. Discourage your teen from going too quickly to these sources. Taking the time and effort to work through a poem can be a rewarding learning experience. Kids who take this trouble and succeed will be more confident the next time they are faced with a challenging poem.
Share a poem with your teen
Find poems that you enjoy and share these with your teen. Good quality poetry can be found in your local library or bookshops. Song lyrics can also be a great source of poetry.
This site uses Google Translate, a free language translation service, as an aid. Please note translation accuracy will vary across languages.