Rosen shows that rhyme does pay

20th November 2009 at 00:00
New 'poetry YouTube' encourages pupils' reading through safe online showcase

Cassilda looks you in the eye and speaks: "I'm going and I'm grabbingThe memories of my dad." The Year 6 pupil from Tidemill Primary School, Deptford, south-east London, is performing a poem she has written under the tuition of the former Children's Laureate, Michael Rosen.

Her poem and those of her classmates are now up on a new website where children's poetry can be shared in a safe environment.

It was one of the ideas Mr Rosen had while Children's Laureate to bring poetry into children's lives.

"Watching poems being performed is very accessible," he said. "The point about poetry is that it is not just about words, it is about tone and rhythm. Experienced readers can get this off the page, but the inexperienced can't. Part of this idea is to try to up the level of interest by showing the physical side of poetry.

"An important thing for children is to get up and enjoy poetry. It is like enjoying songs: the best way is to sing them. And the best way to enjoy poetry is to read it aloud."

The Perform a Poem website - a joint project between Booktrust, a charity that supports the children's laureateship, and the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) - has resources to help teachers encourage children to write, perform, film, edit and upload poetry readings.

All schools can access it, although currently only London schools can upload videos.

Sasha Hoare, the project's manager, said: "It is about having an instant audience for your work. It is quite powerful for children to know they are going live on the internet.

"This is a safe environment, as opposed to putting up clips on YouTube, but family and friends can still watch it.

"Part of Michael's mission was to make poetry accessible, not just for children but for teachers."

The Perform a Poem website also has links to out-of-copyright poems and a library with work by children's poets including Roger McGough, Francesca Beard and Brian Patten, who have given permission for pieces to be performed in videos for the site.

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