Friday, July 11, 2008

Traveling with Summer Poetry

I’d like to take a moment to thank you, reader, for keeping me going. I’m approaching the second anniversary of my blog which started July 14, 2006, and I’m tickled pink to still be at it—thanks to the many people who have posted, commented, and encouraged me. The world of poetry for young people is a small, but special community and I am honored to be part of it!

This week, I’d like to direct you to Book Links magazine once again, where my regular “Everyday Poetry” focuses on “Portable, Packable Summer Poetry” in the July issue, including an original poem, “The License Plate Game” by the always generous Janet S. Wong. You may remember that she posted versions of that poem here (April 25) and revised the final version that appears in Book Links based on that input. Cool to see the blog and print worlds intersect like that.

Meanwhile, I’d like to expand a bit on the topic of poems for summertime. For many wonderful poems, the place is the key. We can set the stage with poems about geography, such as Lee Bennett Hopkins’ collection, Got Geography! (Greenwillow, 2006) or J. Patrick Lewis’ A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme (Dial, 2002). Or we can focus specifically on the U.S. with the poetry of Diane Siebert in Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art (Chronicle, 2006) or another compilation by Lee Bennett Hopkins, My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States (Simon & Schuster, 2000). Display a world or U.S. map and invite children to locate the places referenced in the poetry.

For a more specific emphasis, spotlight these collections below on unique and historic sites around the world. Children can research factual information about a favorite place to accompany the poem or attempt reconstructing the site out of clay, cardboard, or popsicle sticks to display alongside the “monumental” poem.
  • Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places by Joseph Bruchac (Harcourt Brace, 1996)
  • Castles: Old Stone Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and J. Patrick Lewis (Wordsong/Boyds and Mills Press, 2006)
  • Monumental Verses by J. Patrick Lewis (National Geographic, 2005)
  • Sacred Places by Jane Yolen (Harcourt Brace, 1996)
Some children may be gone during the summers visiting extended family members or spending time with a divorced parent. Two poetry collections that capture some of the serious and silly moments of a summer away are Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli (Knopf, 2007) and for older readers, My Father’s Summers: A Daughter’s Memoirs by Kathi Appelt (Henry Holt, 2004). Encourage kids to keep their own summer poetry journals, with doodles, drawings, and poems that they can share or keep private.

Before they hit the road, children can check out the National Poetry Map on the Internet to discover which were the most sought-out poems in 2007 in each individual state. Go to “Good Reads: State Favorites and Critics Picks.”

Janet Wong has also authored a collection of poems all set in the car: Behind the Wheel: Poems about Driving (Margaret K. McElderry, 1999). Some are about life in the car and some use driving as a metaphor. Kids can choose their favorite, copy it on special paper, and share it in the car with friends or family.

Families who spend hours on the road or in the air often enjoy audiobooks to help pass the time. Walter Dean Myers has two works of poetry that have been masterfully adapted to the audio format produced by Live Oak Media complete with original music: Blues Journey (2005) and Jazz (2007). Much of Shel Silverstein’s and Jack Prelutsky’s poetry is available on CD, too, read by the poets themselves. Kids can also make their own recordings of themselves or others reading favorite poems out loud.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Under the Covers this week. See you there!

Picture credit: ALA


Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

Thanks for all the good suggestions over the years! I'll be hitting the bookstores in Texas when I go back for August. I've made quite a list and have already ordered some. Time is running out so I'll need to catch a ride to the mall!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks for stopping by! Have fun book shopping. I find many wonderful poetry book bargains at the Half Price bookstore chain and online at Amazon from sellers of "used" books. I just bought an anthology of Canadian children's poetry there for 7 cents (plus $3.99 shipping)!
Best of luck!

Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu said...

A lot of books I want are out of print so I've ordered online. I'll be hitting the Half Price book stores, too. The one in Richardson has a big children's department. Thanks.