Friday, November 09, 2007

Poetry for National Children’s Book Week

Coming up next?
Children's Book Week: November 12-18, 2007, a “celebration of the written word” designed to “introduce young people to new authors and ideas in schools, libraries, homes, and bookstores,” according to the Children’s Book Council, the sponsor of this event since 1919. It’s also the perfect time to gather and share poems about books and reading. As it happens, I have also been invited to offer a regular column on “Everyday Poetry” for Book Links magazine (published by the American Library Association). My column debuts this month and features “Everyday Poetry: Celebrating Children’s Book Week.” Here’s an excerpt:

Poets have been writing about the power of reading and books for generations. With a focus on books and reading, these poems are the perfect way to open a storytime or read-aloud session. In fact, reading or reciting a favorite book poem could become the ritual that gathers children together for these activities. Linking poems about books with books and reading helps underscore the value of literature and making time for reading. Who can resist the following seven activities, great for celebrating each day of Children’s Book Week or any other occasion that highlights the pleasures found in reading and poetry? Just like holding a special party to acknowledge a birthday or anniversary, these moments have a magic all their own and create happy memories related to reading and poetry.

Choral Reading: Upper-elementary students can share “Anna Marie’s Library Book and What Happened to It” by Celia Barker Lottridge from When I Went to the Library: Writers Celebrate Books and Reading (Groundwood, 2002) as a choral reading. This poem begs for multiple readers as many voices detail how one library book is passed from reader to reader to reader. A choral reading of the poem would be appealing for an open house, parents’ night, or any function with readers of various ages. Or, pair up this poem with a reading of Lauren Child’s picture book, But, Excuse Me, That Is My Book (Dial, 2005), about Lola’s search for her favorite library book.

Bilingual Poetry: The poem “Books” by Francisco X. Alarcón in his book Angels Ride Bikes and Other Fall Poems /Los angeles andan en bicicleta y otros poemas de otoño. (Children’s Book Press, 1999) is a poetic celebration of books written in both Spanish and English. If you or an audience volunteer speak Spanish, read the poem in Spanish first and follow with a reading in English by another volunteer. Then have both readers read their versions simultaneously. Encourage the readers to pause at the end of each line and start the next line together. The effect is quite stunning and really communicates the music of language.

Poetry Chant: The poem “Good Books, Good Times” by Lee Bennett Hopkins, from his book Good Books, Good Times! (HarperCollins, 1990), first appeared on a Children’s Book Week bookmark and then became the theme for his anthology of book-related poems. This poem is perfect for chanting with two groups of early elementary–age children in a back-and-forth fashion. Performed like a cheer for books and reading, it’s ideal for opening or closing a read-aloud session.

Read the article for the rest of the 7 tips!

One more scoop: Book Week is moving. Beginning next year, Children’s Book Week will be celebrated in May, specifically May 12 – 18, 2008. So celebrate now and again in the spring with bookends of book poetry!

For more poetry at the Poetry Friday Round Up go to A Wrung Sponge this week.

Picture credit:


Anonymous said...

Sylvia, congratulations on your new writing gig. That's great!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks, Susan. I'm tickled to see BOOK LINKS value poetry in this way!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

That is so exciting, your new column! I will be reading it faithfully. You're off to a great start!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks so much! I appreciate the vote of confidence.

Anonymous said...

I have been here a couple of times, and I'm always quite impressed. Not sure if you have heard or have any interest, but there is a poetry contest that has a top prize of $10,000 and other prizes. Just click my name for the site. Whatever you do, just keep writing...

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thanks so much for stopping by and for your kind comments. I'm more of a poetry-lover than a poetry-writer, but I'll be sure to check out your links! Thanks again.