Poems for Children to Memorize

A boy reading with an adult

Many of the best poems for children to memorize are funny, short, absurd, and easy to remember. Not all kids will be interested in committing poems to memory, but those that are will quickly develop their linguistic skills and may find other word-related activities easier to complete.

Advantages of Memorization

Kids who practice memorizing favorite poems may find many benefits from the activity. They are likely to:

  • Understand the natural rhythms and conventions of rhyming poetry better
  • Do better in classes that require memorization for tests or quizzes
  • Feel better and get more pleasure from reading
  • Focus and concentrate more effectively
  • Have better attention to detail and order
  • Have a greater appreciation for and understanding of poetry

Poems for Children to Memorize

Some poems for children to memorize are easier and more fun than others are. Stick with short, snappy, humorous verses that have interesting subject matter and clever wording.

Limericks

The predetermined structure and rigid rhyme scheme of a limerick are ideal vehicles for memorization. Limericks can be found in many anthologies for children, but you can also try writing your own or encouraging your child to write one. Because most limericks are similar to very short, funny stories with highly amusing plots, they can be easier to remember than other poems.

Haiku

Most haiku poems do not rhyme, but because they're so short, they can be easy to memorize. Each haiku consists of only three lines and a set number of syllables: five in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third. Haiku are often about nature or more weighty topics than are covered in many children's poems, so if you have a young thinker on your hands or a child who is fascinated by the natural world, he or she may enjoy reading and memorizing haiku.

Poets

Many of the most popular children's poets have become famous because their works have a beautiful, bouncing rhythm and rhyme that fits so effectively with their kid-friendly subject matter and laugh-out-loud senses of humor. Their poems are fun to memorize, and learning the words seems like a pleasure rather than a task.

  • Jack Prelutsky, the first Children's Poet Laureate of the United States, is an extremely prolific poet who has published many volumes of poetry for children. His poems are of varying lengths and almost always tell a silly story or relate an interesting event. The longer ones could be too much of a challenge for many kids to memorize, but Prelutsky's shorter poems are significantly easier to commit to memory.
  • Mary Ann Hoberman is the second Children's Poet Laureate. Many of her poems focus on wordplay and animals, and her verses are fun to read out loud as well as memorize and recite.
  • Shel Silverstein's simple line drawings and universally appealing poems are good memorization material for kids who like to think and could use an extra challenge.

Books

Almost every poem in The Random House Book of Poetry for Children is ripe with memorization potential. Some of the verses are longer than others, but the accessible illustrations and absurd subject matter of the poems will inspire many kids to commit at least a few to memory.

Poem Stew is an anthology that includes poems related to food, a subject which is continually fascinating to many children. The book combines poems from authors with many different styles, so kids can comb through the book to find the poems they like best and memorize them line by line.

It's important to keep in mind that not all kids are receptive to memorization and they may not be naturally good at it. If your child is resistant to memorizing verses, try to find a different way that the two of you can enjoy poetry together.

Poems for Children to Memorize