Encourage a love of language by incorporating haikus to read to children into your family's story time rituals.
What Is a Haiku?
Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. A haiku is a poem, but it does not rhyme. The goal of a haiku is to portray a mood or express a feeling.
A haiku must have 17 syllables. The format of a haiku is often described as 5-7-5.
- The first line has five syllables.
- The second line has seven syllables.
- The third line has five syllables.
Special forms of verse within the realm of haiku include:
- Haibun, a form of haiku that uses personal narrative
- Haiga, an illustrated haiku
- Renga, a linked-verse haiku
Traditionally, haikus described various aspects of nature. Today, however, haiku poems take on just as many subjects as other forms of poetry.
Haikus to Read to Children Online
The Internet is full of websites offering free haikus to read to children. For example:
- Haiku Poetry: This resource offers free PowerPoint presentations and several illustrated examples of haikus for children.
- Voices Net: A site for amateur poets, this resource includes many different haiku poems. You can e-mail your favorites to a friend, if desired.
Children's Poetry Books
Most poetry books for young people contain a section of haikus to read to children. If you're looking for specific anthologies of haikus, however, LoveToKnow Children's Books suggests the following titles:
- Don't Step on the Sky: A Handful of Haiku by Miriam Chaikin
- Haiku Picture Book for Children by Keisuke Nishimoto
- In the Eyes of the Cat: Japanese Poetry for All Seasons by Demi
Writing Your Own Haikus
Writing haikus is a great way to help children develop their language skills. Since a haiku doesn't rhyme, many kids find this form of poetry very accessible. If a child can count the number of syllables in a word, he/she can write a haiku! Popular subjects for children interested in writing haikus include:
- Favorite things
To teach your child how to write a haiku:
- Pick a topic.
- Brainstorm a list of words relating to the topic. For example, a haiku about Christmas might include the words presents, stockings, candy cane, Santa, snowman, and Christmas tree.
- Make a note of the number of syllables in each word on your list.
- Write sentences using your words.
- Experiment with different sentence combinations until you've reached the haiku's 5-7-5 format.
- If desired, draw a picture to illustrate your haiku poem.
The book Haiku: Asian Arts and Crafts for Kids is a great resource for children interested in writing haiku, since it contains several creativity sparking exercises and a guide to the many different forms of haiku.