POETRY FOR THE VERY YOUNG
Poetry for very young children has a lot in common with poetry for older readers. It’s built word by word, as poetry has no room for extraneous words. It sounds good to the ear. It gives the reader a different way to look at the world by drawing attention very closely to something. Still, when writing for the very young, some things must be kept in mind.
Generally speaking, the younger your audience, the more concrete your poetry must be. Young children have such a limited range of experience that they cannot make connections between the sun and a golden disk because they have no point of reference for “a golden disk.” When dealing with young toddlers, they have difficulty grasping comparisons at all. To a toddler, dogs are so much like cats, that if you compare them, the child may have difficulty understanding that they are really different things at all.
Babybug is probably the magazine geared toward the youngest of all children. Poetry in Babybug may contain play on sounds, but they won’t use much (if any) simile. The poems for this magazine are often 10 words or so. They will focus on very common experience: seeing a dog while on an outing with mom, watching water run in a tub, discovering that both balls and trucks roll. The poetry reinforces common experience, helping children discover their world. When the poem goes outside common experience, such as a poem about a bear cub snuggling with his mother, the poem stretches his boundaries slightly, but not too far since the poem will still deal with baby-friendly ideas like snuggling with mom, snow is cold, night is for sleeping.
Listen in for more tips on writing poetry for the younger and where to get it published.