Poems by Roald Dahl: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mel Green

Mel has taught elementary, special education and high school english. She has a master's degree in education.

Ignoring his own advice when he wrote ''Don't gobblefunk around with words,'' author and poet Roald Dahl played around with words and stories. Let's look at some of Roald Dahl's poetic techniques and get gobblefunking.

Rhyming Couplets

Roald Dahl loved to rhyme and would often use rhyming couplets in his poetry. Rhyming couplets literally means a couple, or two, lines of rhyme one after the another. Here's an example: Sitting in the sun. Having lots of fun. Did you catch the rhyming of the words ''sun'' and ''fun''?

This technique is one of the oldest and most popular in poetry. This is probably because using rhyming couplets helps to create a natural rhythm and rhymes that are easy to remember. Dahl often used rhyming couplets in his poems to help create a fast pace and rhythmical tone, making them feel more like songs or chants.

Let's look at an excerpt from Roald Dahl's poem ''The Crocodile'':

''No animal is half as vile

As Crocky-Wock, the crocodile.

On Saturdays he likes to crunch

Six juicy children for his lunch

And he especially enjoys

Just three of each, three girls, three boys...''

Reading that excerpt may give you some understanding of the pace Dahl created, but try chanting it - you'll be sure to remember it by heart after only a few tries.

Creative Character Description

The words we choose to describe things help people see things the way we do. What do you see when you close your eyes and think of the wolf from the story of the ''The Three Little Pigs''? Imagine him now, huffing and puffing to blow all those houses down. You might imagine the wolf as something other than a wolf, maybe like a volcano about to erupt.

Images like this help you create similes. This is a descriptive poetic technique that compares two things using the words ''like'' or ''as.'' Roald Dahl was fantastic at description because he enjoyed putting humorous or revolting images in children's heads. To place images in people's minds, Dahl would use powerful adjectives, or descriptive words, as well as similes.

Look at this example and try to find the powerful adjectives and simile in this excerpt.

''The Wolf stood there, his eyes ablaze

And yellowish, like mayonnaise.

His teeth were sharp, his gums were raw,

And spit was dripping from his jaw.''

- ''The Three Little Pigs'' from Revolting Rhymes

Here, Dahl describes the wolf's eyes as being ''yellowish, like mayonnaise,'' which helps us imagine the shade of yellow in the wolf's eyes. Why don't you try describing a character using rhyming couplets, powerful adjectives and similes like Roald Dahl?

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