Reading Comprehension Tasks – Why Use Poetry?

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By Jill Carroll-Hughes

These comprehension tasks use child-friendly poetry to practise all aspects of comprehension, including vocabulary and inference.

child thinking in class

Gone are the days of comprehension exercises that asked children to literally just ‘hunt’ words out of a text and copy the sentence or write one word answers. This is not a good indication of children’s reading ability or understanding. A deeper thinking is required if children are to demonstrate that they are proficient at making the intricate connections between words, their meanings and their implied meanings. Lately, therefore, we are placing more and more emphasis on inference and vocabulary skills.

Poetry provides a useful tool for practising these skills. Information may be missing in poems, but we use our imagination to ‘fill in the blanks’. We are naturally inferring. Poetry also lends itself to being descriptive and wordy, which is prefect for showing off vocabulary choices or knowledge. Poetry is also suitable for those children who struggle to access a larger chunk of text, or just to add a little variety now and again!

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