Editor's note: Jerdine Nolen writes today about the power of poetry. Her column appears biweekly.
We don't need the calendar showing that Feb. 14 is near to set our hearts aflutter with thoughts of love and flowery phrases for our dear ones. Any day of the year is the right time to send sweet nothings to those we care about. "Roses are red, Violets are blue! Sugar is sweet, And so are you!"
As corny as it sounds, and as overused as it is, I blush warmly when my family members express that sentiment to me. For children, reading poems is fun. Writing poetry can be even more fun!
Here are some things to remember about poems:
* They can be very short!
* They are our friends.
* They don't have to rhyme or be written in verse.
* They express our feelings and emotions in unique ways.
* Their meaning comes from the relationship the poet has with the recipient.
* The recipient should be demonstrably appreciative when receiving one.
Here are points to consider when writing poems:
* Review books of poetry at the bookstore/library.
* Choose a poem you would like to use as a model.
* Talk about the way it looks and the way it sounds with your children.
* Read it again and again with feeling.
* Think about what it says.
* Take turns reading poems aloud.
* Use figures of speech in your poem. For example, a simile compares one thing to another using "like" or "as" ("My love is like a red, red rose"). A metaphor makes a comparison without using those two words ("My heart was an open book").
A resident of Ellicott City, Jerdine Nolen is the award-winning children's author of "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm" and "Raising Dragons." She is a former teacher and administrator in elementary education, and has personally tested her suggestions on her son and daughter. kicker: