Day 19 of 31 Days of Poems for Kids: How to teach a Poem to your kids in less than 2 minutes

How to teach a Poem to your kids today…

Day 19 of 31 Days of Poems for Kids – I, Too, Sing America, by Langston Hughes

Children are drawn to poetry because it 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 connects 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.  The poem was first published in 1925, and it reflects a time when America was divided by racial injustice.

This may not be pleasant walk to take with your children today, but it’s one that brings WORDS OF HOPE across and through decades of struggles 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.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

Read the 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 children.

Let Langston Hughes come into your lives today and teach through his words.

Think, feel, talk, share.  LITERACY is all about WORDS – Written, Spoken & Felt.

If you enjoyed this poem, you may also enjoy:
Fog, by Carl Sandburg
from Five Haiku, by Paul Eluard
Love is, by Nikki Giovanni
Temple Bell, by Yosa Buson
The Snail, by Richard Wright
Evening, by Sappho
The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos William
The White Horse, by D. H. Lawrenc
Dragonfly Catcher, by Chiyojo
The Giraffe, by Ron Padgett
German Shepherd, by Myra Cohn Livingston
Outwitted, by Edwin Markham
My Father, by Yehuda Amichai
Window, by Czeslaw Milosz
I Cry, by Tupac Shakur

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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