The Kids Are All Write: How to Write a Poem

By Jamie Nanfara

Your teacher asks you to write a poem and the first thing you think of is: a cat is sitting on a mat with a bat. Poems are much more than a handful of rhyming words strung together! A poem often makes the reader feel some kind of emotion and NEWS FLASH poems do NOT always need to rhyme!  To write a great poem all you need is rhythm and your own imagination. Here are some tips for writing a poem.

Think of a Topic
Divide a piece of paper into four equal parts and label them 1. People and places you love, 2. Things you like to do, 3. Questions you have about the world, and 4. Memories.  Then, think of topics you might want to write about for each heading.  Challenge yourself to write 3-4 ideas for each heading.  Which idea do you want to write about first?

Choose Words Carefully
Before you start writing your poem, make a list of words that describe your topic.  Use your senses to come up with words.  What do you smell or hear?  What do you see?  How do you feel? If you choose to write a rhyming poem, use a website to find words that rhyme with your list. HERE is a good website to start with.

Write Your Poem
Use your list of words to begin writing your poem. Start with a statement or a question about your topic. When you are writing, remember to use your senses to make your poem descriptive. Use comparisons to give your reader a picture in their mind. Be creative!

Use Line Breaks Deliberately
Line breaks let the reader know when to pause.  Line breaks also give rhythm to your poem and contribute to its meaning.  Read the two poems below with VERY different line breaks.  See the difference?

Poem #1

We glided on the porch swing
and ate warm bread
Grandma watered the daisies
The sun set
Another summer day gone

Poem #2

We glided on the porch swing and
ate warm bread Grandma
watered the daisies the sun
set another summer day gone

Experiment with the line breaks in your poem.  Try a few different ways until you are satisfied with the rhythm and appearance of your poem.

Revise
A poet is never done after the first draft!  Read over your poem and take out words or phrases that don’t fit. Can you add more descriptions? Do the line breaks make sense? An Alliteration is when two words beginning with the same sound are next to each other (like crunchy cookies!).  Can you find a place where you can add an alliteration? After you make some changes, reread your poem out loud again. Does it sound complete?

For more inspiration, check out these poetry collections:
Poetry for Young People

By Langston Hughes
Edited by Arnold Rampersad & David Roessel
Illustrated by Benny Andrews
Published bySterling Publishing Co.

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Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat

Edited by Nikki Giovanni
Sourcebooks Inc.


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A Light in the Attic

By Shel Silverstein
Published by HarperCollins Childrens Books
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Poetry for Kids: Carl Sandburg

By Carl Sandbury
Edited by Kathryn Benzel
Illustrated by Robert Crawford
Published by Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc
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ABOUT JAMIE NANFARA

Jamie is an elementary school teacher and freelance writer. In addition to creating content for KidLit TV’s website, she is an active member of SCBWI and is currently querying her first picture book. She has an MA in Teaching and is passionate about children’s literature and the role it plays in supporting the social and academic growth of her students. When she’s not teaching or writing for children, she is looking for adventure and laughing at the silly antics of her husband and daughter.

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46 Comments

Kid Lit TV Commenter Carolina Z.

Hi , I am Lina , I have 24 years old.
I start to write a poems for kids, I have also my own illustrations , and I made also my own cover book , I need that somebody will help me to publisher this book ( I didn’t done with this book , I have someone things to do , to have my literary property ) It’s hard to do this alone , because it’s my first book . And I think I am too yong … or maybe I am afraid.

Reply
Kid Lit TV Commenter James Marie-Elizabeth

I love to write, writing has always been
my inspiration but I sometimes get so scared if I can go thus far. I need to know how to get a good publisher for my writings and those those who wish to inspire…. really need u guys.

Reply
Kid Lit TV Commenter Jenesis Nevaeh Truesdell

Thank you i am 10 years old and I love poetry because of you. I am making good grades now.

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Anonymous

Hi i am eight years old and i love poems just saying and if you love poems than you should make one and share it with the world bless all of you.

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Jenesis

Hello, I am still 10 years old, but thanks to you I passed 4th grade and is now in 5th grade. Thank you very much! :)

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Unknown Lemon

Heres the poem:

The Towns Tree

The town grows,
the towns tree does too.

The town populates,
the towns tree does too.

The town turns into a city,
the towns tree does too.

The city has to much pollution,
The city’s tree does too.

The city is dying,
the city tree does too.

The city gets torn down,
like the city’s tree.

Reply
Kid Lit TV Commenter Unknown Person

I am going to start poety can’t wait to get started poem #1 has inspired me to start.

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Kid Lit TV Commenter UNKNOWN ONE...

I like poems because you can express your emotions in them and you can write about anything in poems I have wrote a poem about a little girl in a house that was in a thunderstorm and she was very scared and I get all of my ideas from real life because that has happened to me before and it was scary.And the wind was getting crazy and the wind was going 75 mph that was crazy..

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Soccergal23

Here’s a cinquain poem
Summer
Sunny, hot
Running, traveling, relaxing
Fun time off
Best time

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Kid Lit TV Commenter A.K

A Specific House
Have you ever seen a lovely house
Think about seeing this one
There’s a magical forest
With magical sight
An army of men
That used lightening to guard
A specific house
There are Unicorns and Alicorns
And much more to see

Reply
Kid Lit TV Commenter Kashvi

If my book gets published pls read it but I am still thinking of a title. Any title suggestions? 😁😀

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