Learning a poem at an early age is an investment for the future. As T S Eliot said, you don’t need to understand a poem to enjoy it.
A seven-year-old might miss every nuance of Kubla Khan or Ozymandias — but, learnt young, the poems will stay in the head for life, adding lustre to the good moments and illumination in the bad. Memorising a poem means you own it.
The BBC is running a competition called Off by Heart which I think we should emulate over here ... CBC can you hear me?
And since I'm talking about poetry, let me take this opportunity to plug Kids Can Press's wonderful Visions in Poetry series.
I badly covet the latest addition to the series, Emily Dickinson's My Letter to the World and Other Poems with illustrations by Isabelle Aresenault.
I see from the Kids Can site that their beautiful Jabberwocky, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch is now up on Lookybook where you can have fine browse through it. You really should go and have a look.
My son learned to recite the poem from this edition, and every time I hear it recited by my very own beamish boy, it makes me chortle in my joy.