In this article, children’s author (and ex-primary teacher) Chris Powling celebrates and shares the work of a young London teacher, Sean O’Flynn, whose class of seven-year-olds, during the course of year, learnt to love poetry. By the end of their time together, regularly reading, learning by heart and writing poetry had provided the children with a strong foundation in the powerful use of words and the enjoyment of listening to the work of many and varied poetic voices. Powling is strongly committed to children having access to all kinds of writing, from the received classic repertoire (such as William Blake and Tennyson) through to the more child-orientated work of current writers (such as Michael Rosen and Grace Nichols) and a variety of voices (such as Valerie Bloom and Benjamin Zephaniah). This chapter encourages teachers to:
■ Find and share a wide range of poetry that can be appreciated for different qualities: poems to make us laugh, cry, wonder and empathise
■ Use poetry as a model for the children’s own writing; to help them express their own ideas through crafted writing using their own figurative language
Above all, Chris Powling’s message is that poetry should first and foremost be enjoyed. Sean O’Flynn’s success with poetry in his classroom is a fine example of how the teacher’s genuine enthusiasm for literature will inspire children beyond expectation.