Thursday, October 05, 2017

Bilingual Poetry in Audio Form

There's nothing quite like hearing poetry read aloud, is there? Especially hearing a poet read her or his work aloud or a professional narrator who infuses poetry with emotion. A few years ago, I posted a lengthy discussion of the power of recorded poetry as part of my presentation at the USBBY/IBBY regional conference along with Dr. Rose Brock. You'll find the whole thing here. I shared ten online resources of audio poetry and a lengthy list of audiobooks of poetry that are definitely worth finding, listening to, and sharing with young people. 

Now, I am absolutely tickled pink to have participated in creating a mini-audiobook of poetry! 

You can find 35 poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations in audio form for free at SoundCloud here. These same poems are also available on a CD via Amazon here (for $9). PLUS, each poem is read aloud in both English and Spanish, complete with musical introductions. We're so thrilled to offer this alternative mode for experiencing poetry! And what a great way to hear the poems in two languages!

Here are the poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations that are included in the CD:

“Three Kings Day”
“Compliment Chain” 

“How to Love Your Little Corner …” 
“Bilingual Daisy” 

“World Water Day” 

“Children’s Day, Book Day” 
“Pocket Poems Card” 
“The Dancer” 

“Look for the Helpers” 


“Independence Day” 
“Moon Walk” 

“Family Day” 
“The Very First Day of School” 

“Far away on Grandparents Day”
“I Can Ask and I Can Learn” 
“Our Blended Family”

“When to Eat Pan Dulce…” 

“At Our House” 
“Day of the Dead” 
“Dear Veteran” 

“Christmas Tree” 

“Happy Noon Year” 

The poems were read by David Bowles and about a dozen of his college/graduate students at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley (native Spanish speakers). David Bowles hails from a Mexican-American family and has lived most of his life in the Río Grande Valley of south Texas, where he now teaches at the University of Texas there. His work focuses on “the crossroads of myth and legend, genre and literature” and includes a weekly book review column, several edited series, works in periodicals and literary journals, and the Pura Belpré Honor Book The Smoking Mirror

Here's one sample poem to enjoy-- and the audio recording for this poem is #6 on the SoundCloud playlist.

Now be sure and join the rest of the Poetry Friday fun gathered by Violet Nesdoly's blog here.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Reading Poetry Aloud… even to a rabbit!

If you’ve been following my blog AT ALL, you know I am a big (huge, total) fan of reading poetry aloud. Heck, I even wrote a book about it (Poetry Aloud Here)! I believe it is the ideal way of sharing poetry with children. It builds on their oral language expertise, expands their listening skills, invites participation, models pronunciation and diction, demonstrates fluent reading, and takes very little classroom time. I could go on and on. Plus, poets always tell me that their poetry is meant to be HEARD. They choose each word, plan each line and stanza, and craft each poem for the auditory impact, as well as for meaning and emotion. But it’s so basic, that I find people often dismiss this simple practice. Please DON’T! 

One of the reasons I love this new movement of inviting children to read to pets (therapeutic dogs and even stuffed animals) is that it focuses on reading aloud. It provides such a comfortable context for kids to practice their reading aloud—especially kids who are lacking in confidence or still struggling with reading easily and smoothly. Why not incorporate poetry into this practice?

When it comes to reading poetry aloud to kids, just about any book of poetry will work—particularly if YOU enjoy it and if it’s a topic with kid appeal. Instant success! But there are some books of poetry that are planned for this purpose—designed to be read aloud and shared with a partner or group. I thought it might be fun to pull a list of those together to share here.  Here are 20 books with poems that beg to be read aloud—and some include action and motions, always fun!

Poetry collections designed for reading aloud
  1. Ada, Alma Flor, and Campoy, Isabel, comp. 2003.  Pio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes. New York:  HarperCollins.
  2. Ada, Alma Flor and Campoy, Isabel, comp. 2010. Muu, Moo! Rimas de animales/Animal Nursery Rhymes. New York: Rayo/HarperCollins.
  3. Bagert, Brod.  2007.  Shout! Little Poems that Roar. New York:  Dial.
  4. Calmenson, Stephanie.  2005.  Kindergarten Kids: Riddles, Rebuses, Wiggles, Giggles, and More! New York:  HarperCollins Publishers.
  5. Crews, Nina.  2004. The Neighborhood Mother Goose. New York:  Greenwillow.
  6. Crews, Nina. 2011. Neighborhood Sing Along. New York: HarperCollins.
  7. Dotlich, Rebecca Kai.  2004.  Over in the Pink House: New Jump Rope Rhymes. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  8. Franco, Betsy. 2004. Counting Our Way to the 100th Day. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.
  9. Hale, Glorya, ed. 1997. Read-aloud Poems for Young People:  An Introduction to the Magic and Excitement of Poetry. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal.
  10. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2001. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Stories to Read Together. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Boston: Little, Brown.
  11. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2004. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Boston: Little, Brown.
  12. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2005. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Boston: Little, Brown.
  13. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2007. You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Boston: Little, Brown.
  14. Hopkins, Lee Bennett, comp. 1998. Climb Into My Lap: First Poems To Read Together.  New York: Simon & Schuster.
  15. Katz, Bobbi.  2001.  A Rumpus of Rhymes:  A Book of Noisy Poems. New York: Dutton.
  16. Mora, Pat.  1996.  Uno Dos Tres. New York: Clarion.
  17. Newcome, Zita.  2000. Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes and Other Action Rhymes. Somerville, MA:  Candlewick.
  18. Orozco, José Luis.  2002.  Diez Deditos: Ten Little Fingers and Other Play Rhymes and Action Songs from Latin America. New York:  Dutton.
  19. Schertle, Alice. 2003. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear. New York: HarperCollins. 
  20. Sierra, Judy. 2005. Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. New York: Knopf.
And for a more advanced group, don’t forget to try poetry for multiple voices. This takes a bit more planning, but can be so enjoyable and meaningful! 

Poetry for multiple voices
  1. Fleischman, Paul. 1985. I Am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices. New York: Harper & Row.
  2. Fleischman, Paul. 1988. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. New York: Harper & Row.
  3. Fleischman, Paul. 2000. Big Talk:  Poems for Four Voices. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
  4. Franco, Betsy. 2009. Messing Around the Monkey Bars and other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
  5. Gerber, Carole. 2013. Seeds, Bees, Butterflies and More! Poems for Two Voices. New York: Holt.
  6. Harrison, David L. 2000. Farmer’s Garden: Rhymes for Two Voices. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
  7. Heard, Georgia. 1992. Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/ Boyds Mills.
  8. Pappas, Theoni. 1991. Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices. San Carlos, CA: Wide World Publishing/Tetra.

For more tips on reading poetry aloud, check out Paige Bentley-Flannery’s post at the ALSC blog here.

Last week, Janet (Wong) and I were so pleased have our post featured at the Nerdy Book Club blog. We featured our latest project of course—PET CRAZY, which is so fun to read aloud, especially with pets or stuffed animals. It even has a poem about reading to a pet—Liz Steinglass’s awesome poem, “Book Hound” about reading to a dog named Ruby. Here it is: 

Janet wrote a wonderful response poem to Liz’s poem about reading to a rabbit!

And when Janet and I found a “Reading Rabbit” that you can record a message on (to have the Rabbit “speak” to you), we went bananas! (Or should I say, “we went carrots!”?). We bought that Reading Rabbit, recorded a special message, and in honor of our pet theme, we are sending that Reading Rabbit—to one of the people who helped us spread the word about our Nerdy Book Club post and our PET CRAZY book. After gathering all those names (thank you ALL so much!), we drew one name and the winner of our special Reading Rabbit is…..

Allison Jackson
3rd grade teacher
Waggoner Elementary School
Tempe, Arizona

Congratulations, Allison! We’ll be mailing our Reading Rabbit to you shortly! We hope you and your students have a great time reading poetry aloud to RR—and we’d love to see some photos, if you have time!

Meanwhile, join the rest of the Poetry Friday crew over at Today’s Little Ditty where the wonderful Michelle Heidenrich Barnes is hosting our gathering! 

Friday, September 08, 2017

Guest post: Don't Be Fooled by René Saldaña, Jr.

Today’s blog post is a guest post by my friend and colleague, René Saldaña, Jr. It’s such a treat to host him, his teaching, and his students. 

First, a bit of background: René Saldaña, Jr., is the author of several books for children and young adults, among them The Jumping Tree, A Good Long Way, Heartbeat of the Soul of the World, and A Mystery Bigger than Big, the 4th installment of his bilingual Mickey Rangel mystery series. In honor of pets and in celebration of Sylvia and Janet's latest Poetry Friday Power Books, Pet Crazy, here is a list of his own: Sadie and Chito (dogs) and Gordon, Cotton, Jet, Dottie, and Raisin (all cats). He is associate professor of Language, Diversity, and Language Studies in the College of Education at Texas Tech University.

Here René writes about the evolution of his teaching and shares (with permission) some of the work his students created this summer. Enjoy!

Don’t Be Fooled: Nothing’s Wasted on the Young
A Meandering Piece by René Saldaña, Jr.

Throughout my six years teaching reading and writing in a secondary language arts classroom in Texas, one of the biggest beefs I had with my students on the whole was that they didn’t pay attention: to me, to instructions, to the world around them. A shame, because if only they had, I would tell them, your writing would be that much better. “All you have to do is to pay attention, observe, just take care to notice stuff.” So much world wasted on the young.

Oh, in my arrogance (I had only just graduated with a masters in literature and boy did I know it all, and way more where my students were concerned!) I refused to give them the benefit of the doubt; instead I pulled a Ruby Payne before Ruby Payne existed as such and sought to blame the kids’ culture of poverty for their lack of willingness to learn. To simply sit back and listen to me teach them what I knew in my heart of hearts would show them how they could defeat this mean and ugly world that had managed to stack every card against them, etc., etc, ad nauseam.

Today, a couple decades and a half later, I don’t “teach” as much as I learn to teach in the moment. I’m trying to take my own advice: to do a lot more paying attention of my own in the classroom, to the personality of this classroom compared to the next and the following and adjusting my approaches, observing the individual student to see what he or she will teach me about teaching, planning for tomorrow only after a long day based on how it went today. I’m more chill today. No less rigorous and my expectations are just as high as before if not more so. But the gray hair has set in on my beard and head, I move slower (or smoother depending on the perspective), I prefer the organic nature of teaching.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned.

It wasn’t that they weren’t paying attention; in fact, they were paying very careful attention. It had more to do with my teaching, which is to say, I really wasn’t, teaching that is. I stood in front of the classroom, center stage droning on about one thing or another, expecting them to just get it, and if they didn’t, it had more to do with them and their ill-educated parents who cared little about their children’s academic success than with me. After all, wasn’t it I who showed up every morning ready to teach their children, “on the front lines,” we described it as. I had been one of them, literally: I had graduated from this very district years back, had left for college, left the state, as a matter of fact, made it through a bachelor’s and a master’s. I knew what was best for them. What I didn’t know was how to teach them, how to reach them.

Nowadays, I own that I don’t know jack about teaching, despite years doing it at the secondary and university levels, and in a college of education for the past 10 years no less (don’t believe me? I’ve got the lapel pin to show you if you need proof). I have learned a few things, chief among them, young people do pay attention to me (I like to tell myself this at least), to the instructions I give them (today more about inquiry than passively taking in what I dish out), and to the world around them. They’ve actually been paying very careful attention. All they need to show us how much they have been doing so is to provide for them a venue: and poetry—the reading of it, and the writing of it, especially—is just such a venue.

This past summer, I worked with a group of rural kids from West Texas on their reading and writing skills. You see, they’re supposed to be behind their other Texan counterparts in urban and suburban areas. They’re from little towns like Morton and Whiteface, from farming and ranching families, most of them Mexican American. Most of them multi-generational. Many of them will not leave their small towns. Or maybe they will, and this is one of the hopes for this Upward Bound program I’ve gladly attached myself to. The director tells me, “Dr. Saldaña, you have free reign; teach them something about writing.” He might think this lessens the burden for me. On the contrary, the load is made heavier. If I had a curriculum dictated to me, I would follow it, I could blame it if things went awry, I could empathize with the students if it got boring: “It’s not me, it’s this blasted curriculum.” I’d want to act like the Robin Williams character in Dead Poet’s Society and call for a sort of academic revolution: “All of you, tear that ultra-prescriptive syllabus into shreds.” We’d litter the floor in shorn paper. On my way out the door, kids would jump up on the desk one by one and salute me, “O, Captain, My Captain.” But no, I have to create the syllabus myself, the daily lessons, confer with students to assess their progress. All the things of teaching. It’s a big deal, really. Daunting.

So this summer I went with poetry. I’d only recently read Sylvia and Janet’s Here We Go, their second in the Poetry Friday Power Book series, not quite how-to books but rather experience-doing-poetry books, first hand. I also planned a culminating assignment: they were to perform one original piece at the end of our time together. This was the scarier part for a good many of the students, some thirty in all. We read from the book, we did from the book, I read aloud the work of Josephine Cásarez, a beautiful San Antonio poet whose work demands it be performed (“Up Against the Wall” (1993) and “Me, Pepa Makes It Big” (1995)), we deconstructed what I think is one of history’s best haiku, “A Leaf Falls” by e.e. cummings, and we studied found poems and Golden Shovel poems, and more. Then we drafted and revised, workshopped, revised some more, and finally concluded with two days of performance.

We set up the cafeteria at South Plains College in Levelland (TX) for the readings, and each poet came up with poem in hand and read, while the rest of us sat back and enjoyed. They wanted to snap fingers instead of clap because isn’t that how we should react to poetry? One poet wrote a piece about the day her mother died in a violent car accident. The poet had been in the car, and last thing she remembers is her mother there, then when she comes to, the mother gone literally, but also gone-gone, if you get my meaning, and hers. The audience didn’t know how to react. Not a single one of them snapped a finger for her. They were stunned at her bravery to read such a personal poem. Her voice had even quavered at just the right places. I knew the truth: she’d made up that part about the mother dying. She’d started with truth, then veered, dramatically, traumatically, created a persona, and wrote a moving quasi-apostrophe. The audience was relieved to hear my explanation. They were glad at the news, but still couldn’t find it in them to give her a hearty round of snaps. Somehow that worked better.

Following is a sampling of their work:

Thank you, René, Lily, Jasmine, Cynthia, Martha, and Marisol. How lovely to spend some time with you and your summer writing. Your hearts shine through your poems! Please keep writing….

Now, look for more Poetry Friday sharing at Radio, Rhythm, & Rhyme where Matt is hosting our party and launching his own wonderful new book, Flashlight Night.

Friday, September 01, 2017

More on pets and poems and connections

Did everyone see the sweet photo of Otis carrying his own bag of dog food down a Houston street during the recent Hurricane Harvey disaster? Amid all the horrible rain and flooding and suffering, this image captured my heart and made me smile. And I don't think I'm alone there!
I hope all the beloved pets will be reunited with their families very soon as the relief efforts continue. We here all over Texas are very concerned about our neighbors on the Gulf Coast and there are already multiple sources of help and relief being offered. Have you seen the Hurricane Harvey Book Club on Facebook?  So many authors reading their books aloud and kids reading and responding. Such a great use of social media for outreach and comfort and healing!

As I think about this pet-reading-responding connection, I started gathering a big list of pet poetry together and thought I might share it here. Yes, I am pet crazy with the release of my new Pet Crazy book with Janet Wong (and Kristy Dempsey, Helen Frost, Janice Harrington, Eric Ode, Laura Shovan, Eileen Spinelli, Elizabeth Steinglass, Don Tate, Padma Venkatraman, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Tamera Will Wissinger), but I also think pets are always such a source of joy, comfort, and companionship. Here are a few photos of pets I have loved in my family and an assortment of poetry books about all kinds of pets. Enjoy!

Pet Poetry Books
Ashman, Linda. 2008. Stella, Unleashed. New York: Sterling. 
Clements, Andrew. 2007. Dogku. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Crawley, Dave. 2007. Dog Poems. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.
Florian, Douglas. 2003. Bow Wow Meow Meow: It’s Rhyming Cats and Dogs. San Diego: Harcourt Brace.
Franco, Betsy. 2009. A Curious Collection of Cats. Ill. by Michael Wertz. San Francisco: Tricycle Press.
Franco, Betsy. 2011. A Dazzling Display of Dogs. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle. 
George, Kristine O’Connell. 1999. Little Dog Poems. New York: Clarion.
George, Kristine O’Connell. 2002. Little Dog and Duncan. New York: Clarion.
George, Kristine O’Connell. 2004. Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems. New York: Harcourt.
Grimes, Nikki. 2007. When Gorilla Goes Walking. New York: Orchard Books. 
Katz, Susan. 2007. Oh, Theodore! Guinea Pig Poems. New York: Clarion Books.
Lewis, J. Patrick. Ed. 2012. Book of Animal Poetry. Washington DC: National Geographic.
MacLachlan, Patricia and Charest, Emily MacLachlan. 2013. Cat Talk. Ill. by Barry Moser. New York: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.
MacLachlan, Patricia and Charest, Emily MacLachlan. 2013. Cat Talk. Ill. by Barry Moser. New York: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.
Paschkis, Julie. 2015. Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems/ Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales. New York: Holt. 
Pearson, Susan. 2005. Who Swallowed Harold? And Other Poems about Pets. New York: Marshall Cavendish.
Prelutsky, Jack. 2004. If Not for the Cat: Haiku. New York: Greenwillow.
Roemer, Heidi. 2009. Whose Nest is This? Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade.
Rosen, Michael J. 2011. The Hound Dog’s Haiku and Other Poems for Dog Lovers. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
Rosen, Michael J. 2015. The Maine Coon's Haiku and Other Poems for Cat Lovers. Ill. by Lee White. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
Ruddell, Deborah. 2007. Today at the Bluebird Café. New York: McElderry. 
Salas, Laura Purdie. 2009. A Fuzzy-Fast Blur: Poems about Pets. Mankato: Capstone.
Schmidt, Amy. 2013. Dog-Gone School. Ill. by Ron Schmidt. New York: Random House.
Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Meow Ruff: A Story in Concrete Poetry. Ill. by Michelle Berg. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Sidman, Joyce. 2006. Meow Ruff. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Singer, Marilyn, 2012. Every Day's a Dog's Day: A Year in Poems. New York: Dial.
Sklansky, Amy E. 2002. From the Doghouse: Poems to Chew On. New York: Holt.
Wardlaw, Lee. 2011. Won Ton; A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. Ill. by Eugene Yelchin. New York: Henry Holt. 
Wardlaw, Lee. 2011. Won Ton; A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. Ill. by Eugene Yelchin. Henry Holt.
Anakin and Amidala
Wardlaw, Lee. 2015. Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku. Ill. by Eugene Yelchin. New York: Holt.
Wheeler, Lisa. 2013. The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses. Ill. by Zachariah OHora. New York: Atheneum.
Wing, Natasha. 2016. The Night Before the New Pet. Ill. by Amy Wummer. Penguin/Grosset & Dunlap.
Worth, Valerie. 2007. Animal Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Yolen, Jane. 1994. Alphabestiary: Animal Poems from A to Z. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.

Guess who is hosting our Poetry Friday fun this week? Kathryn Apel from Australia! Go to her blog NOW!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Are you PET CRAZY? I am!

I’m back from my travels, ready for a new semester to start, and happy to celebrate a brand new book just in time for the new school year. Please indulge me as I plug another collaboration with the wonderful, endlessly energetic Janet Wong, and the fabulous poets who collaborated with us on our latest book, Pet Crazy, a story-in-poems about wanting and getting a new pet (Pomelo Books, 2017). Just for fun, enjoy this hilarious video of Janet reading her cat poem from Pet Crazy to Tony the Tiger himself!


Thanks to these fabulous poets for their poems that “anchor” this book: Kristy Dempsey, Helen Frost, Janice Harrington, Eric Ode, Laura Shovan, Eileen Spinelli, Elizabeth Steinglass, Don Tate, Padma Venkatraman, April Halprin Wayland, Carole Boston Weatherford, and Tamera Will Wissinger. We’re also excited to feature new illustrations by German artist Franzi Paetzold, whom I just met in person during my travels through Berlin!

PET CRAZY is the third installment in our Poetry Friday Power Book series that weaves together poetry, activities, and resources for young readers and writers. Just like the two previous books, You Just Wait and Here We Go, our new book Pet Crazy features twelve PowerPacks that use creative activities to get children (K-3) thinking, drawing, reading, and writing about cats, dogs, lizards, rabbits, and more. 

Resources for children (as well as parents, teachers, and book club leaders) include “Hidden Language Skills” to sharpen language learning even further, recommended reading lists and websites, tips for reading aloud and writing, talking points, and places to publish.

One of my favorite things about this book (besides the fun topic of pets that remind me of all the dogs, birds, and turtles we’ve had in my family) is the new, big size of this book—so easy for young children and their teachers to use, share, and enjoy. 

And I love all the layers to explore in this book-- the game-like drawing and thinking activities, the engaging poems that tell a story, the extra resources in the back for MORE reading and writing, and the subtle skills woven throughout for kids to notice and explore. And all of this is arranged in a dozen "PowerPacks" or subsets of poems and activities that make a natural "mini-story" to read and discuss. Let's look at one sample PowerPack (#8) that focuses on "found" poetry.

PowerPack 8
Each PowerPack always begins with fun "PowerPlay" activities that get kids thinking, drawing, doodling, and ready to read and talk about poems, words, and language. For PowerPack 8, we invite children to try two puzzles that get them skimming and scanning and hunting-- just like we do when we create "found" poems! 

Next, is the heart of the PowerPack, an "anchor" poem-- each poem by a different poet. The talented Laura Shovan, author of the award-winning novel in verse, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, wrote this wonderful "found" poem (and we created this visual poster/postcard for her poem):

Laura used the following text for creating her poem. See how she chose six key words and built her poem around those words-- and from the point of view of the lost cat!

Next in the PowerPack is a response poem. Here, Janet (Wong) writes a new, original poem in response to the anchor poem by another poet. She uses Laura Shovan's poem itself as the root of her "found" poem. THEN, she follows with another new poem that we call a "mentor" poem because it leads to the writing activity that concludes the PowerPack. Here, she used text from a government website about pet care as the root text for her "found" poem. 

Here is the response poem and mentor poem created by Janet-- these two poems work together with the anchor poem to tell a tiny bit of the story, while moving the book's whole plot forward too. 

Every PowerPack ends with an opportunity for kids to WRITE by building on everything they've been thinking about and reading about in the three poems that are the building blocks of each PowerPack. 

As the book continues, each PowerPack follows with more of the story, but with a new poem focus (like rhyming, questioning, using repetition or alliteration, understanding stanzas, conveying emotion, employing dialogue, and trying found, acrostic, list, and free verse poems). Each time, there are different creative activities to jumpstart the PowerPack as well as an opportunity for children to try writing poetry at the end. 

Finally, there's a bonus at the very end of the book, with a look at some of the "hidden" language skills commonly taught in the primary grades and all tucked away in the PowerPack poems throughout the book. For example, kids can hunt for antonyms, commonly misspelled words (like they're/their/there), adjectives, punctuation, capitalization, and more (and with the answers provided too).

I was very excited to have an advance copy of Pet Crazy with me at my conference in Poland and add it to the "little library" created out of this old phone booth just outside the conference center! It's so fun to think about a young reader in Poland discovering our little book! 

If you would like to see more sample PowerPacks and learn more about Pet Crazy, check out this week's blog post by the wonderful Jone MacCulloch who is also hosting Poetry Friday over at Check it Out

Order your copy of Pet Crazy now and let us know what you think! We're crazy about it! 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Luther's 95 theses + my found poem

This summer I've had the chance to travel to Germany, visit extended family, and see the sites of Martin Luther's life in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. When we went to the city where Luther nailed his famous 95 theses to the church door, I thought it might be fun to "nail" my own statement on that same door. (The doors are now bronze, so no actually nailing occurred!) 

So, I downloaded an English translation of those 95 theses (originally in German) and worked on creating a "found" poem using those words from Luther so many years ago questioning the status quo. I wanted to use at least one word from each of the 95 theses (so at least 95 key words!). It took some doing, but I made something that turned out to be surprisingly meaningful for me. I "hammered" it to the door in Wittenberg where Luther nailed his original 95 theses. So fun and meaningful to do! Thought I might share it here too. 

You can find the whole text for the original (in English) here. (It's LONG!) Here's a step back to look at the whole church-- pretty impressive! (I brought a goofy "Flat Luther" with me on this trip to pose at various spots, so that's why he's in front of the church. Don't judge!)

It was also cool to see that the German Lutheran church had sponsored an art exhibit of doors (more doors!) to focus on celebrating diversity and honoring those with special needs. Here is a glimpse at that exhibit made of many doors, too. 

Now head on over to Kay's blog, A Journey Through the Pages, where she is hosting all our Poetry Friday goodness. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Poetry for Shark Week

I thought it might be fun to see what kind of poetry I could find for Shark Week. Of course we have a "Shark Week" poem in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015), thanks to the awesome Kate Coombs. It's a nice blend of creepy and chant-worthy. 

But as I started digging, I found a few shark poetry books and a bunch of sea-ocean-fish poetry collections, including a brand new gorgeous anthology from Lee Bennett Hopkins coming out this fall (Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea.). See if any of these grab you!

Poetry for Shark Week

  1. Bingham, Kelly. 2010. Shark Girl. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  2. Brown, Skila. 2016. Slickety Quick: Poems about Sharks. Ill. by Bob Kolar. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  3. Bulion, Leslie. 2011. At the Sea Floor Café; Odd Ocean Critter Poems. Ill. by Leslie Evans. Atlanta: Peachtree. 
  4. Coombs, Kate. 2012. Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems. Ill. by Meilo So. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  5. Elliott, David. 2012. In the Sea. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  6. Florian, Douglas. 1997. In the Swim. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  7. Frank, John. 2007. How to Catch a Fish. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook.
  8. Franco, Betsy. 2015. A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters. Ill. by Michael Wertz. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook.
  9. Harley, Avis. 2006. Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills. 
  10. Hauth, Katherine. 2011. What’s for Dinner? Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
  11. Heard, Georgia. 1992. Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/ Boyds Mills.
  12. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2017. Traveling the Blue Road: Poems of the Sea. New York: Quarto/Seagrass Press.
  13. Lewis, J. Patrick. Ed. 2012. National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. Washington DC: National Geographic.
  14. Maddox, Marjorie. 2008. A Crossing of Zebras; Animal Packs in Poetry. Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  15. Ode, Eric. 2013. Sea Star Wishes: Poems from the Coast. New York: Sasquatch Books/Random House.
  16. Shaw, Alison. Ed. 1995. Until I Saw the Sea:  A Collection of Seashore Poems. New York: Henry Holt.
  17. Swinburne, Stephen. 2010. Ocean Soup; Tide-Pool Poems. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.
  18. Zahares, Wade. 2001. Big, Bad, and a Little Bit Scary: Poems that Bite Back! New York: Viking.

Now head on over to A Word Edgewise where Linda is hosting Poetry Friday.