If you’ve read my book, Poetry Aloud Here, you know I’m a big fan of connecting poetry books with other genres. I recently had the opportunity to practice what I preach and wrote a piece for Book Links on connecting poems and picture books, in particular. It’s entitled “Linking picture books and poetry; A celebration of Black History Month." Here’s a brief excerpt…
Combining Picture Books & Poetry
Why combine picture books and poetry? There are several reasons. First, after reading aloud a picture book there is often a natural lull. Sometimes children jump in with responses or questions, or sometimes there’s a call to “read it again.” Following up the reading with a carefully chosen poem is one way to extend the story experience. Pairing a poem with a picture book can deepen children’s understanding of the story’s theme or extend their knowledge of the topic. Conversely, the story can provide context for the poem. It can even lead to a “compare and contrast” discussion, as children ponder what they glean from each text. Practically speaking, it doesn’t take long to read a poem, but the impact can be very strong. Often, children will “pocket” a rousing refrain or rhythmic phrase from the poem to enjoy on their own. That’s the beauty of poetry—it appeals to both the ear and the heart. When combined with a beautifully illustrated and powerfully written picture book, the eye and mind are engaged, too.
Take the plunge. Read a book and then share a connected poem. Or open with a poem to set the stage for a story. Use the poetry connection to share picture books with older readers who may enjoy this new spin. Share the poem out loud—like the story—and invite your listeners to participate in multiple choral readings. You will be joining in an ancient tradition of oral literature steeped in African roots of singing, chanting, testifying, and storytelling.
Here’s just one sample pairing:
Picture Book: McKissack, Patricia C. Goin’ Someplace Special. Illus. by Jerry Pinkney. 2001. 40p. Simon & Schuster/Anne Schwartz, $16 (978068981881)
K–Gr. 5. Experiencing the segregation of the 1950s in Nashville, a young African American girl finds the library is a welcome haven, one of the few integrated places in the community.
Poetry Link: “At the Library.” From It’s Raining Laughter by Nikki Grimes. Photos by Myles C. Pinkney. 2004. 32p. Boyds Mills Press, paper, $10.95 (9781590780770).
Extend this Coretta Scott King Award–winning story by sharing Nikki Grimes’ poem “At the Library,” which depicts another “brownskin girl” who finds adventure and escape in the pages of library books.
The complete article is available at the Book Links web site. Check it out!