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Literacy Blog

How to Read a Poem

Many students are put off poetry, thinking it’s too difficult or too boring because it demands your full attention. Nonetheless, reading poetry opens up your imagination. It’s really fun to read, and the rewards of fully understanding a poem can be quite fulfilling! Here are our top 5 tips on how to read poetry, so you can have a thought provoking experience.

Top 5 Tips

  1. Read the poem several times first. Read it aloud and in your head. Don’t annotate, don’t highlight any words. It’s important that you simply read the poem and get a feel for it.
  2. After reading, note down your initial thoughts. Who is the speaker? What situation is presented? If the poem is a question, what is the answer? What does the title suggest?
  3. Research about the author. Researching about the author might enable you to understand more about the poem. Who are they? Does their backstory influence the poem?
  4. If a friend of yours has read the poem, try discussing the poem. Ask for their opinion on the poem, and give yours.
  5. Never be intimidated by the poem, regardless of its title or length. Calm down, you’re not trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. If you can’t understand the poem entirely, it’s completely fine!

Overall, reading poetry has its benefits! Some benefits include:

  • Improved verbal skills and memory: Reading a poem can enhance your vocabulary especially if you discuss it with friends and peers.
  • Improved long-term brain health: Studies suggest that people who recall and memorize poems are less vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
  • Improved critical thinking: Poetry always improves the reader’s critical thinking by forcing them to think deeply and between the lines. This skill benefits students. Poetry readers are more likely than non-poetry readers to analyze bias and viewpoint by themselves

There are several obstacles and barriers the reader must face in order to fully understand a poem. Readers can overcome some barriers they face when reading poetry by following the tips given above. The thing that makes poetry unique and special is the way it’s written. Most poetry has the main idea expressed in a non-literal way. So, if you can’t fully understand a poem, accept it. You can’t always understand a poem completely, but you can definitely enjoy its artistic expression.


  1. Shmoop Editorial Team. “How to Read a Poem.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008,
  2. “How to Read a Poem.”, Academy of American Poets, 1 Oct. 2015,
  3. Matus, Douglas. “The Benefits From Reading Poems.” Pen and The Pad, Pen and The Pad,
  4. Vardavas, Stephanie. “Why Is Poetry So Difficult to Understand?” Slate Magazine, 25 Feb. 2015,

Our 4 Favorite Media Literacy Hacks

This week our Grade 12 English B students shared some hacks on how to tell the difference between real news and fake news on social media:

Kohei: “If a post on social media links to a website, check the domain name. If it’s a .com, the company have have a vested interest in getting you to believe some fake news.”

Yuna: “Look at the comments people have posted under the news item. Rational, sane comments can indicate that the news is real”

Kun Ho: “Check the publisher. Some news companies are openly biased”

Yu Jeong: “Try to find other, unrelated sources that can confirm the news. If you can’t, then you’re probably reading fake news”

About Us - Literacy Blog

Literacy education is our central aim. Building proficient and independent learners who have an interest in reading and writing in English. This blog will be the tool in helping students at Hanoi International School improve and develop their literacy skills. There are an array of skills that coincide with being both a proficient and independent learner of English literacy and this blog will focus on four specific elements that enable students to do just that.

  • Employ strategies when they don’t understand
  • Write to demonstrate understanding
  • Think deeply about what they read
  • Read fluently and for pleasure

First and foremost, this is a student led blog. Students sharing personal experiences in their progress for English proficiency. Students will share what works for them and how they deal with the challenges that arise when studying English literacy. More than anything this will be a place to share strategies and share success.

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