Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Happy birthday to my friend and poet, Rebecca Kai Dotlich who was born on July 10 in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also a featured poet in my new book, Poetry People Here is an excerpt from my piece on her and her work.

She grew up in Indiana in the backyard of the Indy 500 and attended Indiana University. She began writing even as a young child on a toy typewriter and eventually published her first collection of poetry for children, Sweet Dreams of the Wild, in 1995. She is a mother and grandmother, as well as a frequent conference speaker and writer-in-residence in the schools. In addition, she has been a poetry advisor for Creative Classroom magazine. Rebecca Kai Dotlich has a particular talent for writing poetry for our youngest readers and listeners.

Dotlich has two collections that are full of movement, in their strong rhythms and in their content. Over in the Pink House: New Jump Rope Rhymes (Boyds Mills Press, 2004) includes 32 original rhymes for chanting aloud while jumping rope. With In the Spin of Things: Poetry of Motion (Boyds Mills Press, 2003), Dotlich finds movement in ordinary things like ice cubes, pencil sharpeners, etc. Both books are full of playfulness with words and actions. Combine them with Jane Yolen's Street Rhymes around the World (Wordsong, 2003) and Joanna Cole's Anna Banana: 101 Jump-Rope Rhymes (HarperTrophy, 1989) for more playtime rhymes. Other jump-rope resources include The Jump Rope Book by Elizabeth Loredo and Martha Cooper (Workman, 1996), Double Dutch: A Celebration of Jump Rope, Rhyme, and Sisterhood by Veronica Chambers (Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, 2002). And of course, be prepared for spinning, jumping among the children and have the jump ropes ready.

For … summer gatherings, share Dotlich’s Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems (Boyds Mills Press, 1998). She captures childhood experiences with metaphorical language that focuses on natural pleasures like enjoying butterflies and ladybugs, as well as games of jacks and jump rope. Once again, children will enjoy DOING these summer activities or sharing about their favorite summertime pastimes. Brainstorm a group list of favorites and encourage children to try new ones. Other summer poetry can be found in July is a Mad Mosquito by J. Patrick Lewis (Atheneum, 1994), Turtle in July by Marilyn Singer (Macmillan, 1989), and From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/ Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano by Francisco X. Alarc√≥n (Children's Book Press, 1998).

Look for more from Rebecca Kai Dotlich, a gentle, thoughtful, playful poet to watch!

Picture credit: www.highlightsfoundation.org

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