Memorizing Poetry: Where Do I Start?

Memorization is one of the foundations of our homeschool education. We memorize scripture, poetry, lists of information like states and capitals, multiplication tables, grammar jingles, the books of the Bible. So much has been written proving that memorization is effective as a style of learning, especially in elementary years. It is the season of development when little ones’ minds are specially suited to memorizing. Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise have written about it extensively in their book The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide To Classical Education at Home. And more specifically, Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing has written much on why children should learn good poetry.

I give you those references as the “why” we memorize so that I can now give you the “what” we memorize. We have read lots of good poetry in the last two years of homeschooling. I have truly been blown away at children’s ability to store material in their little brains. It far surpasses what I believed was possible. And keep in mind that you don’t have to homeschool to teach your child good poetry. Anybody can spend time reading and memorizing poetry.

Here are some of our favorites. We started with some that were only a few lines:

Whole Duty of Children by Robert Louis Stevenson

At the Seaside by Robert Louis Stevenson

Happy Thought by Robert Louis Stevenson

Our Brother Is Born by Harry and Eleanor Farjeon (We memorized the first verse only.)

The Caterpillar by Christina G. Rosetti

When the ability to memorize poetry expands, you can move on to more difficult passages like these:

Mr. Nobody (Anonymous)

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

TopsyTurvey World by William Brighty Rands

The Lamb by William Blake

Little Things by Julia A. Carney

The Little Doll by Charles Kingsley

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking by Emily Dickinson

Birthday Of A King by William Neidlinger

BandAids by Shel Silverstein

Merry Sunshine (Anonymous)

Who Has Seen The Wind by Christina G. Rosetti

Poetry memorization can be fun. Okay, so it might not be fun the first time children read over a poem, but as they build a mental library, it’s fun to see them recognize poetry in a book that they have committed to memory. It gives my little one such a charge to be able to recite to me what is written in a book. I hope this post encourages you to give it a try. I think you will like the results.


  1. benandpaige says

    I can still recite most of the prelude to Canterbury Tales, in old english! Remeber that?

  2. The Hill Hang-Out says

    Sure. I tried to say it to My kiddo last week when we read about Canterbury Tales. I was surprised at how much I could remember after twenty years. We also read Shakespeare's "All the world's a stage/ and all the man and women merely players/ they have their exits and their entrances…"

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