Reading poetry to inspire writing poetry
Today on National Poetry Day we are thrilled to launch our new research report, Children and young people’s engagement with poetry in 2022, which reveals the growing number of young poetry readers and the strong connection between reading poetry and writing poetry.
A significant 50.9% of children and young people (60,000 school pupils aged 8 – 18) who read poetry in their free time also write poetry in their free time, compared with only 7.1% of those who don’t read poetry in their spare time, which is a notable increase on previous years.
Linking to this, the research found that over the past 12 years, a third (35.3%) more children and young people read poetry now than compared with 2010. These findings are noteworthy because they show that engagement with poetry is associated with positive literacy behaviours, and highlights the act of reading poetry itself as a key motivating factor for young people to start writing poetry.
Inspirations for writing poetry
The research revealed the following inspirations for writing poetry:
- Expressing creativity (74.0%) and imagination (67.8%)
- To relax (57.4%)
- To support causes (31.1%) or feel connected to the world (35.7%)
Writers of poetry were also found to have higher levels of writing enjoyment that non-poetry writers (59.1% vs 29.1%).
Inspirations for reading poetry
Similarly, readers of poetry were found to have higher reading enjoyment than non-poetry readers (62.3% vs 42.0%). Most poetry readers were found to be motivated by:
- Learning new words (67.6%)
- Learning new things (65.8%)
- Learning about other people and cultures (51.8%)
In line with our previous findings, more children and young people who receive free school meals (FSMs) read poetry in their free time than those who don’t receive FSMs (31.9% vs 24.6%). This outcome is mirrored in those who write poetry in their free time (22.7% vs 17.1%).
Overall, we are delighted to see an evidence base growing for poetry as a positive literacy force among children and young people. As well as providing an outlet for creativity and imagination, the research also indicates that poetry is an important tool to express feelings and make sense of the complex events going on in our world. Furthermore, it is heartening to see the steady rise of young poetry readers across the country, and how this is inspiring a significant uptake in poetry writing. As we look ahead to a period of processing and recovery in a post-pandemic society, we will continue to support schools to develop poetry writing for enjoyment practices with the radical view that every young person is a poet.