How to Improve Kids’ Reading & Vocabulary Skills AND teach Poetry in 2 Minutes a Day…
Children are drawn to poetry because poetry makes us think.
When talking about poetry with young children, it’s not necessary to analyze and interpret every detail. What is important is feeling the essence of the poem, the words, and talking about how the words connect to our real lives.
The poem I, Too, Sing America by 20th century Black American poet Langston Hughes is a powerful poem that lets us feel the way the voice or speaker of the poem feels about being Black in America in a time when racial discrimination was prevalent.
This poem was first published in 1925, and it reflects a time when America was divided by racial injustice. This is not a pleasant walk to take with your kids today, but it is one that brings WORDS OF HOPE across and through decades of struggles, tragedy and tears… and one that examines emotions on a most important level – the voice of PEOPLE.
Langston Hughes speaks and sings of and for his PEOPLE and the emotions of inequality.
I, TOO, SING AMERICA by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.
Read this poem with your children.
Read it again.
And maybe again.
You may have to explain the powerful images that the speaker of the poem creates for us. Who is the darker brother? Why is the darker brother sent to eat in the kitchen when company comes? Ask your children how they feel about this.
Talk about exclusion and inclusion and ask if they’ve had any experience with being excluded. Why and by whom? Does the speaker of the poem accept being sent to eat in the kitchen? How does he feel about it? What is he doing about it?
Who sent the speaker to eat in the kitchen?
Why does the speaker laugh, eat well and grow strong? Does he have a positive attitude about who he is? What will happen tomorrow? Who will be ashamed some day?
These are very poignant questions that lead to very important conversations with your kids.
Let Langston Hughes come into your lives today as we celebrate the journey of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Think, feel, talk, share.
READING is all about WORDS – Written, Spoken, Felt.