Today marks the beginning of National Library Week, a time to “celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries, librarians and library workers and to promote library use and support.” What a perfect time to seek out poetry about the library, librarians, books, and reading. I published an article last year in Children and Libraries that featured poetry for children about the library. [Vardell, S.M. (2006). A place for poetry: Celebrating the library in poetry. Children and Libraries. 4, (2), 35-41.] Here is a brief tidbit:
“Poetry can be the vehicle for highlighting the unique resource that is the library while providing a reminder of the special power of the genre of poetry for children, too. Since poems are generally short, they lend themselves to quick sharing as openings or closings for story times or special events. Since they are spoken word art, they lend themselves to oral or choral reading and can involve children in active participation in the poem performance. And since poems are intense containers of images and experiences, they can make a powerful point (about libraries, books, reading) in very few words. Finally, by choosing poems showcasing libraries, we can celebrate both the library and poetry itself, during National Poetry Month, National Library Week, School Library Media Month, all in April, or any other time of the year.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. “Necessary Gardens” from Please Bury Me in the Library. San Diego, Harcourt.
By J. Patrick Lewis
This eight-line poem is an acrostic with each letter of the word “language” used to begin a line of the poem. After reading the poem aloud once, find eight volunteers, one for each word/line, to “pop up” and read/say each line wherever they are seated. In fact, with each word/line on a large card or mini-poster, this poem can be performed “popcorn” style with the words shouted out in nearly any order, for a spontaneous, creative alternative. This is one poem among many gems about books, reading, and the library—the theme of the anthology. And if children enjoy this acrostic form, challenge them to try writing their own acrostic poems with book-related words of their choosing. If you have a button maker, this poem can even fit on a button to promote the library, books, reading, AND poetry.”
In this previous article, I noted 13 poems about the library. Since then, I have found another 14 poems (for children and young adults). Here’s the new batch:
1. Appelt, Kathi. 1997. “Javier” from Just People and Paper/Pen/Poem: A Young Writer’s Way to Begin. Spring, TX: Absey & Co.
2. Bagert, Brod. 1999. “Library-Gold” from Rainbows, Head Lice and Pea-Green Tile; Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
3. Frost, Helen. 2003. “Do Not Leave Children Unattended” from Keesha’s House. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
4. Greenfield. Eloise. 2006. “At the Library” from The Friendly Four. New York: HarperCollins.
5. Grimes, Nikki. 1998. “42nd Street Library” from Jazmin’s Notebook. New York: Dial.
6. Gunning, Monica. 2004. “The Library” from America, My New Home. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
7. Hopkins, Ellen. 2006. “See, the Library” from burned. New York: McElderry.
8. Katz, Alan. 2001. ‘Give Me a Break” from Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs. New York: Scholastic.
9. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. “Please Bury Me in the Library” from Please Bury Me in the Library. San Diego, Harcourt.
10. Livingston, Myra Cohn. 1994. “Quiet” in Hopkins, Lee Bennett, selector. April Bubbles Chocolate; An ABC of Poetry. New York: Simon & Schuster.
11. Lottridge, Celia Barker. 2002. “Anna Marie’s Library Book and What Happened’ in Pearson, Deborah, editor. When I Went to the Library. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
12. Nye, Naomi Shihab. 2005. “The List” from A Maze Me; Poems for Girls. New York: Greenwillow.
13. Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. “It’s Library Time” from What a Day It Was at School! New York: Greenwillow.
14. Silverstein, Shel. 1981. “Overdues” from A Light in the Attic. New York: HarperCollins.
I am now officially obsessed with this quest! If you know of any other poems for young people that focus specifically on the LIBRARY (or librarians), please let me know. Meanwhile, go to your local library, thank the hardworking library staff, wish them a “happy library week,” and check out some poetry!