Today (4 October) is National Poetry Day – an annual celebration that inspires children and adults throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems.
To support the day, we were commissioned to conduct the first national survey of children and young people’s views on poetry in England. We spoke to 2,948 eight to 18-year-olds in England about their views on poetry: what they think poetry is, how they are engaging with it, and why.
What did we find?
- Almost half (46%) of children and young people turn to poetry in their free time, as listeners, viewers, performers, readers or writers
- Young people’s interest in all forms of poetry is widespread, with poetry being listened to, watched and recorded via phones and screens – not just read and written on paper
- Children on free school meals are more likely to engage with poetry in their free time than their better-off peers (55.7% vs 43.0%). They are also more likely to enter poetry competitions and slams
- While the majority of children and young people read poems on paper (59.6%), digital formats are making inroads: a third (32.6%) say they read poetry online or on a phone, a similar proportion watch it as a video (31.7%) and almost a fifth listen to spoken recordings or soundtracks (18.6%)
- Children and young people who write or perform poetry say that it makes them feel creative (76%), it is a great way to express themselves and their feelings (66.7%) and that it gives them a chance to create something special out of words (57.8%)
- Poets were most often described as someone who is creative, followed by funny, imaginative and intelligent
Our Director, Jonathan Douglas, said: “Poetry has the power to unlock children and young people’s imaginations, unleash their aspirations and boost their attainment. It also enables children to express themselves in a multitude of ways, from raps and lyrics to free verse and traditional poems. What’s more, our research shows that poetry might offer particular benefits to children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, who are traditionally more likely to struggle with literacy. We hope that children and adults alike can discover the joys of writing, performing or listening to poetry this National Poetry Day.”
We've also created a fantastic new resource for our members, A poetry lover's classroom, which helps explore the benefits of creating classrooms full of poetry lovers and supports staff in reflecting on current practice and expertise.
You can get involved with National Poetry Day on social media using #NationalPoetryDay.