Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy Young People’s Poetry Week (April 16-22)

Today marks the beginning of Young People’s Poetry Week (April 16-22), the most important week of the year, of course (when it comes to poetry for children)! Just about ten years ago the Academy of American Poets initiated the observance of National Poetry Month to celebrate poetry and its place in American culture. Since then, the poetry “movement” has continued to gain momentum with the emergence of Young People’s Poetry Week in 1999 sponsored by the Children’s Book Council, a focus on poetry slams as the centerpiece for Teen Read Week in 2003 sponsored by the American Library Association, and the inauguration of the Poetry Blast in 2004 led by the Association for Library Service to Children, a concert of children’s poets held at the annual conferences of ALA and the International Reading Association. (I’ve brought that same “concert” idea to the Texas Library Association conference and was proud to lead the third annual poetry “round up” just last Friday in San Antonio featuring Jaime Adoff, Tony Crunk, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Charise Mericle Harper, Heidi Zingerline Mordhorst, and Eileen Spinelli.)

The Children's Book Council, in collaboration with the American Academy of Poets and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, sponsors Young People's Poetry Week during the third week of April, providing a variety of wonderful resources to assist with programming and celebrations. You’ll find a list of new poetry titles, a downloadable bookmark, crossword puzzles, interviews with poets, and articles on sharing poetry written by Carole Fiore, Lester Laminack, and yours truly.

So, happy YPPW to you and yours. Here’s a poem to open the door to poetry for the young people in your life!

The Poem as a Door
by Eve Merriam

A door
is never
A door
is always

You cannot skip over,
you cannot crawl under;
walk through the wood,
it splits asunder.

If you expect it to be bolted,
it will be.

There is only one opening:
yourself as the key.

With a sigh of happiness
you pass through
to find on the other side
someone with a sigh of happiness
welcoming you.

from The Singing Green (HarperCollins, 1992)

Invite children to share their favorite poems and post them on the door for others to enjoy as they come and go all week long!

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