Paul Fleishman’s unique poetry book for two voices, Joyful Noise, received the Newbery medal in 1988. This is the second book of poetry to win the Newbery award since 1922. (Remember that Nancy Willard’s A Visit to William Blake’s Inn won in 1981.)
Reading poems for two voices is the most complex and challenging form of choral reading, in my opinion, but also a lot of fun. It takes a bit of practice, but is very powerful. Two individuals volunteer to practice and perform poems for two voices (often with overlapping lines). It can be effective with two groups, rather than with two individuals, but it does take practice. (Underline the lines that are spoken simultaneously to help cue the children. Be aware that they may be saying different words at the same time.)
More poetry books for reading with multiple voices:
Fleishman, Paul. 1985. I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices. New York: Harper & Row.
Fleishman, Paul. 2000. Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Franco, Betsy. 2009. Messing Around the Monkey Bars and other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Greenfield, Eloise. 2006. The Friendly Four. Ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. New York: HarperCollins.
Harrison, David L. 2000. Farmer’s Garden: Rhymes for Two Voices.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2001. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Stories to Read Together. New York: Little, Brown.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2004. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together. New York: Little, Brown.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2005. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together. New York: Little, Brown.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2007. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together. New York: Little, Brown.
Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2010. You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together. New York: Little, Brown.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1988. Side by Side: Poems to Read Together. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Singer, Marilyn. 2010. Mirror, Mirror. New York: Dutton.
Singer, Marilyn. 2013. Follow, Follow. New York: Dutton.
If you hunt, you can find poems that may not be intended for two voices but may be very effective delivered that way, particularly bilingual poetry collections with poems that appear in two languages. For example, Jennifer Clement’s poem “Arbol de Limon / Lemon Tree” appears in both Spanish and English (translated by Consuelo de Aerenlund) in Naomi Shihab Nye’s collection The Tree Is Older Than You Are. If you are a Spanish speaker, you can read the poem in Spanish, followed by a reading in English. Or you can ask a Spanish-speaking volunteer from the audience to read the Spanish version. Once the readers have taken turns presenting their versions of the poem, both read their versions simultaneously. Just be sure to encourage the readers to pause at the end of each line and to start the next line together. The effect is quite stunning. This can work with many bilingual collections of poetry like:
Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, F. Isabel. 2011. Ten Little Puppies; Diez perritos. Rayo/HarperCollins.
Alarcón, Francisco X. 2005. Poems to Dream Together/ Poemas para Sonar Juntos. New York: Lee & Low.
Argueta, Jorge. 2012. Guacamole; Un poema para cocinar/ A Cooking Poem. Ill. by Margarita Sada. Toronto: Groundwood.
Argueta, Jorge. 2013. Tamalitos: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem. Ill. by Domi. Toronto: Groundwood.
Carlson, Lori M, comp. 2005. Red Hot Salsa; Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States. New York: Henry Holt.
Cashman, Seamus. 2004. Something Beginning with P: New Poems from Irish Poets. Dublin: O’Brien Press.
Henderson, Kathy. 2011. Hush, Baby, Hush! Lullabies from Around the World. Ill. by Pam Smy. Seattle: Frances Lincoln.
Luján, Jorge. 2008. Colors! Colores! Ill. by Piet Grobler. Toronto: Groundwood.
Mora, Pat. 1996. Uno Dos Tres/One, Two, Three. New York: Clarion.
Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.
Image credits: Groundwood;HarperCollins;Candelwick