The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 2 | Page 6

The Missouri Reader

• Is YOUR teacher magazine

• Is a peer reviewed professional journal

• Has been publishing for over 40 years

• Has articles on the latest literacy issues

Want to submit an article? See the last page for details about submissions. We especially welcome joint articles by teachers & professors collaborating on literacy projects. We try publish articles that will help teachers with their everyday teaching. We want to help you become that teacher we all wish we had had when we were in school.

How to Read a Poem Aloud

To begin,

tell the poet’s name

and the title

to your friend.

Savor every word –





Then –

read it one more time.

Now, take a breath –

and sigh.

Then think about the poet,

at her desk,

late at night,

picking up her pen to write –

and why.

Copyright © 2012 by April Halprin Wayland

Used with permission of the author, who controls all



I’m delighted that The Missouri Reader editors, Sam Bommarito and Glenda Nugent, decided to feature poetry in this issue. The focus on poetry sends a powerful message about the important role it plays in classrooms from kindergarten up. Its effectiveness as a teaching tool has long been clearly and repeatedly established by research and experience. Rasinski (2014) calls for making poetry and rhythmic texts an integral part of the reading curriculum. "I have become increasingly convinced,” he says, “that poetry offers one of the best--and often most underused--resources for developing literacy foundations. Poetry and songs are typically short and easy to learn, provide opportunities for students to play with the sounds of language, and offer an engaging way to learn phonics.” William Dee Nichols et al (2018) report that, “Poetry can help develop in students a love for reading, writing, and playing with language, yet it is often a neglected literary form in many reading curricula. Those who see the value of poetry recognize it as the perfect genre for teaching phonics, fluency, and a love of language. The rhyming, rhythmical language of poetry provides the perfect backdrop for teaching word families (rimes/phonograms).” Sloan (2003) reports, “Over the past 20-plus years…our collaboration (with her grad students), through in-class activities and the teachers’ research in their classrooms, provides persuasive evidence of the potential value of poetry and verse in literacy development.”

So the question isn’t whether poetry can have a strong influence in teaching the meaning, sound, and rhythm of words and love of language. The question is why more teachers don’t take fuller advantage of its benefits for their students. For those who might have given poetry a try and given up,

Harrison (2018) recommends trying a new approach rather than introducing poetry in the same way and hoping for different results


Poetry: The Game Changer\


David L. Harrison

By David L. Harrison

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia