Engaging an active boy in poetry reading and writing may seem an impossible, even ridiculous undertaking. However, there are amazing resources available to help you learn how to get the active, aggressive and disruptive boy in your life to love poetry.

What Kinds of Poetry Boys Like

Boys will not be drawn to extravagant love poems or quiet recitations about nature. Boys require something silly, unique, imaginative, and preferably disgusting. Stephane Paul writes in her article that “the brilliant minds of our country have found a way to liberate our boys from flowery verse and instead tackles subjects like ooze, the act of hurling, creepy monsters, swamps, and icy planets. Without sacrificing vocabulary building words or poetic cadence these poets speak to the adventurous fascination of boys.”

Jack Prelutsky Appeals to Boys

One book Ms. Paul recommends is Jack Prelutsky’s It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles. Prelutsky has been a favorite poet of the younger crowd for quite a while now. His poems are goofy, ironic, occasionally grotesque, and if nothing else, inventive, artistic, and completely original. Take, for example, this stanza from the poem “Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face:”

Imagine if your precious nose

were sandwiched in between your toes,

that clearly would not be a treat

for you’d be forced to smell your feet.

Read these lines to your goofball son or your male students and they will probably be in stitches.

Poetry is Good For Boys!

There is an excellent article by Dr. Delia M. Turner that makes a wonderful case for why poetry is good for boys.  She lists a number of reasons but my personal favorite was that “poetry is a juggling act, and boys like athletic performance.” She explains: “I tell my students a good poem is a juggling act—it has rhyme, rhythm, perhaps metaphor and simile, it plays with words, it reverses ideas, it spins, it explodes, and it fakes you out. A really good poem is like someone juggling several different objects, on a unicycle, on a tightrope while balancing a bottle and a cat on his head.” What a great metaphor for boys: poetry as a dynamic, exciting activity!

Getting Boys to Read and Write Poetry

This summer, why not make reading and writing poetry with your child a priority? Jack Prelutsky, the great poet himself, has wonderful online resources to help you, including a four step creative writing workshop!  Using his own poetry as a jumping point, Prelutsky gives sage advice and encouragement to guide young writers through the poem-writing process. At the end of the workshop, publication is strongly encouraged!
On Jack Prelutsky’s website, he includes a great tutorial written for kids about how to write a funny poem. What a great activity to do with your child on a rainy summer day.
I recommend getting your child hooked on Jack Prelutsky’s poems before you attempt the workshop. There are a variety of other poetry books that appeal especially to boys. Included are:

Vile Verses by Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes
The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky
Nothing Tastes Quite Like a Gerbil: And Other Vile Verses by David Orme
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Falling Up by Shel Silverstein
Up for discussion: Do you have a favorite volume of poetry that appeals to boys? Why is it boys seem to have such an aversion to poetry?

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  • Jenny Hart

    If you like Prelutsky and Silverstein, check out new author, “Mister Lemur” who’s first book titled “Mister Lemur’s Train of Thought” is a collection of 66-short, rhyming stories. The authors set out to “delight and educate” young readers and do so with stories, songs and school performances. Their work has been extremely popular with boys in the 1st to 4th grade. See http://www.misterlemur.com.

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