Themes in Children's Poetry

Article describing Christina Rossetti's children's poetry and the effects of the 19th century on the poetry

The Little Golden Book of Poetry

Christina Rosetti's "The City Mouse and the Garden Mouse."

There are a lot of recurring themes in children’s poetry. Rhyme and repetition, occur constantly in children’s poems. The rhyme scheme tends to be in an a/b/a/b format, with either having two different rhyming words or a repetition of the same word that still creates the same rhyming sound that gives the poem a sing-song flow. The combination of rhyme and repetition help to create a simple melody when reciting the poem aloud. This simple combination of repetition and rhyme can also help young audiences to remember the poem and recite the poem from memory and retain the sing-song qualities that make these poems entertaining.

Magical elements as well as the humor also become thematic within children’s poetry. Barbara Garlitz’s article “Christina Rossetti’s Sing-Song and Nineteenth-Century Children’s Poetry” discusses the humor and magic that occur in children’s poetry. Garlitz writes, “Sing-Song was published during a vogue for nonsense and fantasy in children's literature. But at least half of the poems are rooted in the moral tradition of children’s poetry which goes back to the early 16th century and continued in Christina Rossetti’s time” (539). Some of the poems that are read to children today reflect this “vogue” for fantasy and nonsense. The element of fantasy and nonsense combined with morals help children to not only enjoy the poems being read to them but to also learn something from it in a fun way. Fantasy in poetry also helps to provide a sense of nostalgia and desire to return to something simple which can have a fantastical quality when engaging with the poetry.

Garlitz, Barbara. "Christina Rossetti's Sing-Song and Nineteenth-Century Children's Poetry." PMLA 70.3 (1955): 539-43. Print.