Friday, November 01, 2013

What if poetry and science met and fell in love?

Well, I have a secret to share. I’ve been leading a double life. I am still true to my love for poetry, but I have to admit that I’ve been playing around with science on the side. 

After the success of The Poetry Friday Anthology--- first for K-5 and then for middle school-- Janet and I talked about what to do next. After much discussion, we decided a cross-curricular approach was the way to go. When I teach my graduate course in poetry for young people, the "poetry across the curriculum" module is always the most popular. Teachers and librarians love the idea of infusing poetry in science, social studies, math, etc. And there are so many wonderful poetry books to choose from with rich content to spice up lessons. So when we thought about which area to focus on, we chose science pretty quickly. A quick look at the 811 shelves will turn up quite a few wonderful science-themed poetry collections. Plus the field of science has just published a new "framework" for science instruction, including new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), that makes it a timely moment to push the notion of poetry as a way into science once again. 

So... that's what I've been working on with my partner-in-poetry, the fabulous Janet Wong. It's The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science due out next March. Here's the lowdown: It will contain 218 poems for K-5 with a "Take 5" mini-lesson for each poem once again.  We're continuing our approach that begins with reading the poem aloud, inviting kids to read it out loud with you, prompting open discussion, building a skill, and connecting with other poems, books, and genres. We'll be integrating both the science standards (NGSS) and the Common Core standards (CCSS), but with a focus on celebrating the poem, as well as encouraging exploration of our world, too.  There are  poems by Joyce Sidman, J. Patrick Lewis, X.J. Kennedy, Marilyn Nelson, Marilyn Singer, Douglas Florian, Carole Boston Weatherford, Joseph Bruchac, Margarita Engle, and more (total of 72 poets). We're really thrilled with how it's all coming together.

Janet and I just spent 3 days at the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) conference getting a crash course in science education! It was fascinating to see how tuned into literacy the science teachers were. It was BIG! And there were multiple sessions on using children's literature to promote science learning, so our ideas about sharing science-themed poetry were very well received, too. 

For teachers, librarians, and parents who simply want to promote science literacy, five minutes with a science-y poem is a great way to begin. And if you want to go even further and develop a full-blown science experience or connect with a science lesson, we offer tips there, too. 

In a recent article, “Physics And Poetry: Can You Handle The Truth?” writer Adam Frank admitted, Poems and poetry are, for me, a deep a form of knowing, just like science. Yes, obviously, they are different. But each, in its way, is a way to understand the world.” Although it may seem surprising, poets and scientists both seek to observe, explain, and understand the world around them. Poet Sara Holbrook reminds us, “In fact, in Ancient Greece there was no distinction between a scientist, poet, or philosopher." Linking reading and science offers opportunities to develop both comprehension skill and content knowledge and poetry is the perfect vehicle for capitalizing on those teachable moments of overlap and connection. 

We look forward to sharing more about this project when it's ready to roll...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

More poetry at USBBY

The recent USBBY/IBBY conference in St. Louis had an amazing line up of authors and illustrators who presented-- I wish I could share them all. But let me feature two more: Ashley Bryan and Pat Mora who opened up the conference. They were also the collaborators for the beautiful poster and poem for International Children's Book Day (ICBD)-- which is a very big deal in many countries around the world, but oddly, not so much here in the U.S. Countries within IBBY submit proposals for the honor of creating the annual ICBD poster and this year it was our turn (USBBY). It's gorgeous, don't you think?

And this poem has been displayed all around the world as people celebrate books, kids, and reading worldwide. 

Ashley Bryan created the art for this beautiful poster and kicked off the conference with his big heart, beautiful spirit, and an inviting recitation of many poems, focusing on what he called "vocal play." Here's just ONE poem moment he shared with us ("My People" by Langston Hughes).

Next, it was such a treat to hear from Pat Mora, the author and poet who created the "theme" poem for the ICBD poster. She challenged us to think about including ALL the kids and families who are hungry for literacy in our plans and activities and ended with a reading of the "Bookjoy" poem featured on the poster. Pat coined that perfect word, "Bookjoy," and it was the theme of our conference, too. Enjoy!

And just for fun...

Friday, October 25, 2013

David L. Harrison at USBBY/IBBY conference 2013

I had a great time at the biennial USBBY/IBBY conference last week in St. Louis and was able to make a few video snippets of speakers-- particularly those who shared some poetry! I plan to share them here in segments. First up, my co-presenter, poet David L. Harrison, who did such a marvelous job talking about  his work, about sharing with students and teachers, and how to nurture responding and writing. Here he reads his poem, "He Was So Little," from our collaborative work, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School, co-edited by my partner-in-poetry, Janet Wong. 

It just so happens that we also have a "printable" postcard version of this lovely poem that you can download at our website, Here it is:

For a bit of background on David:

David L. Harrison was born in Springfield, Missouri, and earned his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Drury College, his master’s degree in parasitology from Emory University, and completed graduate studies at Evansville University. He has worked as a pharmacologist, editorial manager, business owner, and as a professional musician, music teacher, and principal trombonist in the Springfield Symphony. He has served on school boards and as a college trustee and is active in several literacy organizations. He has led several literacy service projects including raising 181,000 new books for school libraries. 
He has published more than sixty-five works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for young people. His first book of poetry, Somebody Catch My Homework (Boyds Mills Press 1993) became an International Reading Association Children’s Choice book and inspired a play adaptation. Two other poetry books were also honored on the Children’s Choices list including When Cows Come Home (Boyds Mills Press 1994) and A Thousand Cousins (Boyds Mills Press 1996). His poem, “My Book,” is even sandblasted into the sidewalk at a library in Phoenix, Arizona. 
I love the pithy poems of Bugs, Poems about Creeping Things as well as the spot-on family poems of Vacation, We’re Going to the Ocean!, two books in a small trim-size that are child-friendly in both style and content.
He has also written an engaging autobiographical poetry collection, Connecting Dots: Poems of My Journey (Boyds Mills Press 2004) with poetic snapshots of his past which he describes as "dots" to connect in order to create a picture of his life. His collaborations with Dan Burr, the illustrator, are compelling and engaging, too, including the poems-plus-portraits collections, Cowboys and Pirates.
He maintains a lively blog with opportunities to write poetry and learn about teaching poetry, too, and his created several excellent resource books for teaching poetry that I've mentioned before. And he’s a lovely collaborator in our Poetry Friday anthology series. Here we celebrate the conclusion of our session! Such a fun time and what a responsive audience!

More to come... from Pat Mora, Ashley Bryan.... Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Presenting at USBBY

I’m off to the biennial conference of USBBY (the United States Board on Books for Young People)—really a regional North American conference of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People). I love this event (and this organization) and have been going to this conference for about 20 years. It’s always so invigorating to hear from creators of children’s books from around the world and be actively reminded of our global connections through books and reading. This weekend’s conference features an amazing line up of speakers including: Pat Mora, Ashley Bryan, Katherine Paterson, Siobhan Parkinson, Peter Sis, Klaas Verplancke, Bryan Collier, Jacqueline Woodson, and Gregory Maguire.

There will also be a panel featuring authors Andrea Cheng, Louise May, Simone Elkeles, Ifeoma Onyefulu, and Sara Farizan, plus we’ll hear from Kang Woo-hyon, President of Nambook International Committee and Junko Yokota, Nami Concours Jury President, as well as the storytellers Dashdondog Jamba (all the way from Mongolia!) and our own IBBY legend, Anne Pellowski, plus many regional Missouri authors and illustrators. One of the highlights will be the Dorothy Briley Lecture which will be given by the passionate and effervescent Mem Fox. Having served on the committee that selected her as our speaker, I am particularly excited to see what she has to say—and how she says it!
And as an added bonus, the speakers at this event often stay and mingle and listen to other sessions too. We eat meals together and take coffee breaks together and it really becomes more like a book retreat, than a hurried conference.

I’m also lucky enough to be presenting one of the 16 breakout sessions on Sunday and of course I’m talking about…. Poetry! This time, I’m focusing on poetry for middle school and featuring ways to engage readers at that challenging age in reading and performing poetry. I’m also happy to report that I’m sharing the stage with one of my favorite people, the poet David L. Harrison.

And here’s just a nugget of what I’ll be talking about. Our session theme is “PerformanceJoy”—to go along with the conference theme, “BookJoy,” and our session is entitled, “BookJoy for Middle School: Poetry in Many Voices” and here are some of my tips I’ll be sharing for targeting those (wonderful, but squirrelly) middle school students.

Take 5 Tips for Middle School
1. Take the lead, be the first to read the poem, and don’t be afraid to “ham it up.” Take the pressure off students by showing how the poem sounds, how words should be pronounced, how the meaning and emotion might be conveyed. Don’t ask them to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.

2. Use props whenever possible to make a concrete connection to the poem, focus attention, and add a bit of fun. Choose something suggested by the poem. It’s even worth planning ahead to have a good prop ready beforehand. Students can then use the props too as they volunteer to join in on reading the poem, taking the focus off of them and giving the audience something specific to look at while listening—the poetry prop.

3. Try using media to add another dimension to the poetry experience. Look for digital images or videos relevant to the poem to display without sound as a backdrop while reading the poem aloud, or find music or sound effects suggested by the poem to underscore the meaning or mood as you read the poem aloud. 

4. Offer choices as you invite students to join in on reading the poem aloud with you. They can choose a favorite line to chime in on or volunteer to read a line or stanza of their choice or ask a friend to join them in reading a portion aloud. The more say they have about how they participate in the poem reading, the more eager and comfortable they will be about volunteering.

5. Make connections between the poems and their lives and experiences, between one poem and another, and between poems and other genres like nonfiction, short stories, newspaper articles, and songs). We provide example questions and poem connections for each poem, but once you have established that pattern, be open to the connections the students themselves make first. 

6. Be creative and use art, drama, and technology to present the poem and to engage students in participating in that presentation. Find relevant photos, draw quick Pictionary-style sketches, make word clouds, create graphic “novel” comic panels for poem lines, use American Sign Language for key words, pose in a dramatic “frozen” tableau, collaborate on a PowerPoint slide show, and so on. Look to share the poem in a way that is particularly meaningful for your students. Or better yet, let them show you!

I’ll also be highlighting some of my favorite poetry websites, poetry blogs, and poetry apps. And of course I’ll be talking about The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School—highlighting especially some of our culturally and globally rich poems in that collection by Joy Acey, Janet Wong, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Margarita Engle, Julie Larios, and more. 

If you’re in the St. Louis (MO) area, it’s not too late to join us! I hope to post pictures and video footage of the conference, if possible, so stay tuned.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Check out this high school poetry writing contest

Lake Effect, Penn State Behrend’s student-edited literary journal, is holding a national poetry contest for students in grades 9-12. Prizes include cash awards and publication. Here are the details.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The B.F.A. in creative writing program at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, invites high school students to submit a poem to its Lake Effect National High School Poetry Competition. Students in grades 9-12 may enter one typed poem of up to 30 lines on any topic, in any form. Poems must be the original work of the student. Three prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded.

The first-place poem also will be published in Lake Effect, Penn State Behrend’s student-edited international literary journal and the centerpiece of the B.F.A. program’s immersive, experience-based curriculum. Creative writing students work closely with faculty in small classes; coursework is devoted to canonical literature, 20th- and 21st-century literature, critical theory, craft classes and seminars for reading and discussing student work. 

Entries must have the author’s name, street address, phone number, email address and grade printed on the top left corner; school name, street address and phone number and a teacher’s name and email address should appear at top right. Homeschooled students can use a parent’s information. Mail entries to George Looney, B.F.A. Program Chair, Penn State Behrend, 4951 College Dr., Erie, PA 16563-1501. 

Entries must be postmarked by Oct. 31, 2013. Winners will be notified by email or phone before Dec. 31.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Cybils time

It's time for the Cybils award and I am tickled pink to serve as a judge in the POETRY category once again. Woo hoo! CYBILS stands for the Children's and YA Bloggers Literary awards and have been going strong since they were launched in 2006. Nominations opened today and close pretty quickly-- Oct. 15, so go here to put your favorite book forward. You can nominate in more than one category, but only one book in each. Then the judges will consider all the eligible books, correspond extensively, cajole, analyze, argue, advocate, and then select a short list of finalists (which is announced in November, if I remember correctly)-- which will then be sent to the second round of judges who choose ONE book for the award which is announced in February. That's it-- in a nutshell. Of course heaps of awards will be decided and announced in January, but I'm so happy that the Cybils has a category for poetry alone. Woo hoo!

The previous poetry winners include: 
2012: BookSpeak! Poems about Books by Laura Purdie Salas
2011: Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto by Paul B. Janeczko
2010: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer
2009: Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sideman
2008: Honeybee by Naomi Shihab Nye
2007: This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman
2006: Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman

And the short lists of "Finalists" offer a tremendous roster of the best of the best. 

Check out this year's nominations and nominate your own favorite. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

THE MORTIMER MINUTE: A Guest Post by Janet Wong

Earlier this month children's author April Halprin Wayland invited me to follow her in a Children's Poetry Blog Hop. Welcome to another installment of the Children's Poetry Blog Hop, aka The Mortimer Minute!

Here’s How-to-Hop, “Mortimer Minute” style!
  • Answer 3 questions. Pick one question from the previous Hopper. Add two of your own. Keep it short, please! This is a Blog Hop, not a Blog Long Jump. This is The Mortimer Minute—not The Mortimer Millennium!
  • Invite friends. Invite 1-2 bloggers who love children's poetry to follow you. They can be writers, teachers, librarians, or just-plain-old-poetry-lovers. 
  • Say thank you. In your own post, link to The Previous Hopper. Then keep The Mortimer Minute going: let us know who your Hoppers are and when they plan to post their own Mortimer Minute.

Mortimer: Is there a children's poem that you wish you had written? 
JW: “Puff” by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. 

Mortimer: What do you have in your refrigerator?

JW: Yes, Mortimer: those ARE carrots you see there! Five pounds. Those carrots have been waiting for two weeks to get juiced. It will would be happening any day week now, except I’ll be on the road for two weeks (starting yesterday), speaking at conferences, attending book meetings, and visiting schools in Texas, Washington, and California. (Carrot $ has to come from somewhere.)

Mortimer: How can I (Mortimer) help you?
JW: In the kidlitosphere we have a thing called Poetry Friday. Bloggers put amazing posts up every Friday. A different host each week lists all these posts. I’m always enticed by a dozen posts but I rarely get around to reading more than 3. If I were to see “The Mortimer Minute” next to a couple of blogs next week, I would make a point of going there. You’d be giving me just the nudge I need. I mean, how could I NOT stop by a blog to visit you—for a minute?! 

My Mortimer Minute is almost up, so let me introduce the Hoppers who will follow me with The Mortimer Minute at their blogs next week!

Irene Latham writes middle grade novels and poetry for all ages. Her recent works were inspired by her childhood love for exotic animals: DON'T FEED THE BOY is about a boy who wants to escape his life at the zoo and DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST (2014) is a collection of poems set at an African water hole.

Renée M. LaTulippe
Renée M. LaTulippe writes children's poetry and is co-author of LIZARD LOU: A COLLECTION OF RHYMES OLD AND NEW and seven early readers for All About Learning Press. Her children's poetry blog at No Water River features poetry videos, poet interviews, extension activities, and other poetry goodies. 

That’s it for this week. Thanks, Mortimer!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Birmingham, 1963: 50 years later

This week I am honored to feature Carole Boston Weatherford and her award-winning book, Birmingham, 1963, in memory of the bombing of the Birmingham church fifty years ago (September 15, 1963) that took the lives of four little African American girls. Carole's book is a beautiful, moving tribute and has been recognized with several awards:
  • Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
  • The Jefferson Cup Award
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Books for Older Readers Honor Book
  • Kirkus Reviews' Editor's Choice list
  • Best Children’s Books of the Year, Children’s Book Committee of Bank Street College of Education 
  • Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry Honor Book
  • Best Children's Books of 2008 — Christian Science Monitor

Carole was kind enough to answer a few questions about her book (below). She'll be appearing on a variety of blogs this month with even more information, too.

Why did you decide to write this book?
I don’t want young people to forget the sacrifices made in America’s freedom struggle. I’ve written a few books with that mission. One is even titled Remember the Bridge. In Birmingham, 1963, I offer an elegy to the four girls who were killed in the church bombing: Denise McNair, Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley.

Can you share a bit about your research and writing process?
After writing Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-ins, I wanted to tackle another watershed event in the Civil Rights Movement. I chose the church bombing because, at the time, there was not children’s book devoted to the subject. The death of the four girls turned the tide of public opinion against white supremacists and the systemic racism that they avowed.

I began research using primary sources in the Birmingham Public Library  collection. I read newspaper accounts of the event, viewed news photos, and read responses by President John F. Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. I also referred to secondary sources. An article that interviewed the girls’ families helped me to humanize and personalize the victims.

From the start, I used poetry to tell the story. My early drafts in third person, however, lacked immediacy. So I decided on historical fiction and created a fictional first-person narrator. To layer the plot a bit, I set the action on the anonymous narrator’s tenth birthday. For rhythm and resonance, I employed repetition: “The year I turned ten…”; and “The day I turned ten….” What would have been a childhood milestone, she remembers instead for violence.

Why did you use poetry to tell the story?
Most of my books are poetry or are a hybrid genre blending poetry, biography, fiction or nonfiction. For example, I, Matthew Henson, Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive, and Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane are poetic biographies. Becoming Billie Holiday is a fictional verse memoir. The Sound that Jazz Makes and a Negro League Scrapbook are poetic informational books. Birmingham, 1963 is an elegy. But it is also a narrative poem, a historical fiction. Poetry allows me to conjure images and distill emotions that make the story powerful.

Why did you create an anonymous narrator?
The historical events are true, but the first-person narrator is fictional. I used a narrator to give young readers a character with whom to identify. In so doing, young readers grapple with social justice issues. I did not want names of fictional characters to stick in readers’ minds or to take the focus off the real victims. Also, the narrator’s anonymity draws readers even closer to the action. In this scene, she struggles to get out of the church after the blast.

Smoke clogged my throat, stung my eyes.
As I crawled past crumbled plaster, broken glass,
Shredded Bibles and wrecked chairs—
Yelling Mama! Daddy!—scared church folk
Ran every which way to get out.  

Why did you structure the book with an “In Memoriam” section?
The book has two sections: a longer opening poem with a first person narrator is followed by four short “In Memoriam” poems—one about each of the four girls. The tributes read like incantations. I could not have written this book without honoring Cynthia, Denise, Carole and Addie Mae. I felt that it was important to spotlight their individuality. I did so by revealing their pastimes, personalities and passions. I tried to show not only who they were but who they might have become. In May 2013, the four girls were posthumously awarded Congressional Gold Medals.

This fall, Carole is offering FREE Skype visits to schools that read Birmingham, 1963.  Click here for more information. There's also a discussion and activity guide for the book here and more information at the publisher's link here.

Links to Classroom Resources
Free Film Kits (from Teaching Tolerance Magazine)-- Mighty Times: The Children’s March and America’s Civil Rights Movement: A Time for Justice

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections -- Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Collection

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (PBS) – For Teachers

Eyes on the Prize (PBS) – For Teachers 

Library of Congress Teacher's Guide Primary Source Set Jim Crow in America

Photographs of Signs Enforcing Discrimination (Library of Congress) 

Special thanks to Carole for gathering all this information for us-- and for her beautiful, moving book-- and a reminder of the price children often pay for our collective ignorance and stupidity. Look for many more wonderful works by Carole Boston Weatherford at her web site here

Thursday, August 29, 2013

New novels in verse: Liars

It seems like there has been an explosion in the publication of novels in verse this year-- and so many great ones! Just out this week: Sonya Sones's latest-- To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story (Simon & Schuster). It's getting lots of buzz...

Don't you love this crazy mash-up here (above)?! And it fits the story perfectly. President George "I cannot tell a lie" Washington plugging a book about a teenage girl with a serious problem with telling the truth. Why bother, when lying serves you so much better? (At first!) Teen readers will love the California setting, movie star characters, hilarious and authentic teen voice, and sexy first-love scenes. Here's one nugget (from near the end of the book, when the bottom has fallen out on her romance):

All Weekend Long

I weep.
Try to eat.

Admit defeat.

Toss. Turn.


Colette has a great relationship with her little, lisping brother that gives the book heart, and a difficult relationship with her glamorous mother that provides the story's tension. But it's the budding romance with a boy who may or may not be what he pretends to be (just like her!) that pushes the story along toward a satisfying conclusion. Check it out!

More on verse novels coming soon... plus blog tours for poets Carole Boston Weatherford and Janet Wong. Happy Poetry Friday, one and all! 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Back to school!

It's hard to believe kids and teachers (and librarians) are heading back to school already! In honor of that big transition, here's a new poetry postcard featuring a fun "back to school" poem by new poet, Terry Webb Harshman.

This is one of the new "printables" featured at Pomelo Books and available here. Each poem comes from our Poetry Friday Anthology series and each book begins with two weeks of back-to-school poems for every grade level, K-5; 6-8. 

For more school-themed poems, look for the following list in my book, The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists.

Poetry Books about School for Children: Children often particularly enjoy poetry about school since most of their daily lives are spent there. The ups and downs of classroom life make fine grist for both humorous and serious poetry. Look for these books of poems about school and share them throughout the school year. (Some are out of print, but may be available on library shelves or via your favorite "used book" provider.)
  1. Abeel, Samantha.1993. Reach for the Moon. Duluth, MN: Pfeifer-Hamilton.
  2. Bagert, Brod. 1999. Rainbows, Head Lice, and Pea-Green Tile: Poems in the Voice of the Classroom Teacher. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House.
  3. Bagert, Brod. 2008. School Fever. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
  4. Carpenter, Stephen. 1997. No More Homework! No More Tests!: Kids' Favorite Funny School Poems. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
  5. Dakos, Kalli. 1990. If You're Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand: Poems about School.  New York: Four Winds Press. 
  6. Dakos, Kalli. 1993. Don't Read This Book Whatever You Do!: More Poems about School. New York: Trumpet Club.
  7. Dakos, Kalli. 1995. Mrs. Cole on an Onion Roll and Other School Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  8. Dakos, Kalli. 1996. The Goof Who Invented Homework and Other School Poems. New York: Dial.
  9. Dakos, Kalli. 1999. The Bug in Teacher’s Coffee. New York: HarperCollins.
  10. Dakos, Kalli. 2003. Put Your Eyes Up Here: And Other School Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
  11. Dakos, Kalli. 2011. A Funeral in the Bathroom and Other School Bathroom Poems. Albert Whitman.
  12. Franco, Betsy. 2009. Messing Around the Monkey Bars and Other School Poems for Two Voices. Ill. by Jessie Hartland. Somerville, MA: Candlewick. 
  13. Frost, Helen. 2004. Spinning Through the Universe. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
  14. Harrison, David L. 1993. Somebody Catch My Homework. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  15. Harrison, David L. 2003. The Mouse was out at Recess. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press.
  16. Holbrook, Sara. 1996. The Dog Ate My Homework. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
  17. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1996. School Supplies: A Book of Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  18. Horton, Joan. 2004. I Brought my Rat for Show-and-Tell and Other Funny School Poems. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.
  19. Katz, Alan. 2008. Smelly Locker; Silly Dilly School Songs. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  20. Kennedy, Dorothy M. Ed. 1993. I Thought I'd Take My Rat To School: Poems for September to June. New York: Little, Brown.
  21. Krensky, Stephen. 2004. There Once was a Very Odd School and Other Lunch-Box Limericks. New York: Dutton.
  22. Lansky, Bruce. Ed. 1997. No More Homework! No More Tests! Kids Favorite Funny School Poems. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
  23. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2009. Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year. Ill. by Ethan Long. New York: Little, Brown.
  24. Nesbitt, Kenn. 2004. When the Teacher Isn't Looking. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
  25. Nesbitt, Kenn. 2007.  Revenge of the Lunch Ladies. Minnetonka, MN: Meadowbrook Press.
  26. Opie, Iona and Peter Opie. Eds. 1992. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick.
  27. Prelutsky, Jack. Ed. 2003. I Like It Here at School. New York: Scholastic.
  28. Prelutsky, Jack. 2006. What a Day it was at School!: Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
  29. Prelutsky, Jack. Ed. 2010. There’s No Place Like School. New York: HarperCollins.
  30. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Do Buses Eat Kids? Poems About School. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.
  31. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2009. Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School! New York: Clarion.
  32. Shields, Carol Diggory. 1995. Lunch Money and Other Poems About School. New York: Dutton.
  33. Shields, Carol Diggory. 2003. Almost Late to School: And More School Poems. New York: Dutton.
  34. Sierra, Judy. 2000. There’s a Zoo in Room 22. San Diego: Harcourt.
  35. Sierra, Judy. 2005. Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids' Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. New York: Knopf.
  36. Singer, Marilyn. 1996. All We Needed to Say: Poems about School from Tanya and Sophie. New York: Atheneum.
  37. Stockland, Patricia M. 2004. Recess, Rhyme, and Reason: A collection of Poems about School. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books.
  38. Thurston, Cheryl Miller. 1987. Hide Your Ex-lax under the Wheaties: Poems about Schools, Teachers, Kids, and Education. Fort Collins, CO: Cottonwood Press.
  39. Weatherford, Carole Boston. 2006. Dear Mr. Rosenwald. New York: Scholastic.

For more info, check out the blog for this "list" book here.

Now head on over to NoWaterRiver where the fabulous Renee La Tulippe is hosting Poetry Friday this week!

Monday, August 05, 2013

Yes, there is a Poetry, Texas

I've been away for a bit, finishing the revised edition of Children's Literature in Action: A Librarian's Guide, wrapping up summer classes, and enjoying a bit of a break. Earlier this summer I took a trip to a town just an hour away (from Dallas where I live) and had so much fun-- it's called POETRY, Texas. Yes, there is really a town called "Poetry" and I took pictures of all the places that carry the town name. I thought I might share them here, just for fun, as I wrap up my summer and head toward the new school year. Enjoy!
I definitely would love to live at the Poetry Ranch!
Poetry taxidermy? Does that mean preserving the old classic poems?
Stop for poetry!
Great to be welcomed and comforted by poetry.
I bet the singing is great here! 
That is the mayor of Poetry on the far right in the cap (not the cowboy hat). 
Yours truly at the corner of State and Poetry!

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Janet and me at ALA: The Movie

As I mentioned previously, Janet Wong and I were lucky enough to have a proposal accepted for the recent ALA conference in Chicago and presented a session on poetry and the Common Core. We had a great audience and were able to tape a few nuggets to share here-- thanks to poet, friend, and "filmmaker," Laura Purdie Salas. Here's Janet talking for a moment about how "ageless" poetry can be-- particularly how the poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School can work at the high school level, too. 

And here I am wrapping up our session with a quote about the value of poetry from First Lady Michelle Obama.

We talked about why poetry is important for young people, what poetry skills are included in the Common Core Standards, and demonstrated how to share a poem while gently incorporating skill instruction. 

What are the expectations outlined in the Common Core?
There has been a lot of discussion about how the Common Core Standards focus on nonfiction-- and that is an interesting and important new direction. But there is a misconception that fiction and poetry reading are no longer important and this is certainly not true. There are Standards that address explicitly important aspects of reading, sharing, and understanding poetry, in particular. Let me also note that good teachers and librarians have been doing these things for YEARS (with our without official "standards"), but we hope that this push to the Common Core Standards might provide additional ammunition for incorporating poetry where it may not have been included before. So, what does the Common Core say about poetry? In a nutshell:
In sharing poetry with kindergartners, we capitalize on their developing knowledge of language, their joy in learning and playing with words, and their emerging understanding of how words should be spoken, spelled, read, and written. First we focus on enjoyment and understanding, then we guide students in recognizing and responding to poems. We can explore the rhythm of poetry as well as the power of rhyme and the sounds of words. (RL.K.5)
With first graders, we continue to do many of the same things, but shift slightly to guide students in understanding how poets express feelings in poetry and appeal to the senses through language. We can also help them understand and identify the words and phrases poets use to communicate emotions and convey sensory experiences through poetry. (RL.1.4)
In second grade, we add to the mix by guiding students in responding to the rhythm of poetry and recognizing how rhyme is used in poems. We can also explore how repetition and alliteration can help shape a poem and how meaning emerges. (RL.2.4)
In third grade, we do all of the above, plus support students in responding to poetry in various forms, exploring narrative poems that tell stories, lyrical poems that explore questions and emotions, and humorous poems that make us groan or laugh. We help students understand how poets use lines and stanzas to build poems in distinctive ways. (RL.3.5)
In fourth grade, we also guide students in responding to poetry in various forms, articulating themes from key ideas and details in the poems. In sharing poetry aloud and in print, we can assist students in understanding how structural elements such as verse, rhythm, and meter help shape a poem. (RL.4.2; RL.4.5)
Finally, in fifth grade, the emphasis is to help students respond to poetry in various forms, articulate themes from key ideas and details in the poems, and explain how the poem’s speaker reflects upon a topic and shapes it with a particular point of view. We can guide students in understanding word meanings and how Higurative language such as metaphors and similes function in poetry. We can also discuss how structural elements such as stanzas and line breaks help shape a poem and how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a poem. In a variety of meaningful and participatory ways, we can celebrate poetry while gently introducing and reinforcing key skills. (RL.5.2; RL.5.4; RL.5.5; RL.5.6; RL.5.7)
The keys to remember are:
  • A poem should first be enjoyed for its own sake; 
  • Presenting poems in participatory ways (in various read-aloud strategies) gets children "into the poem;” 
  • The main idea is to help children see and hear the poetic elements after enjoying the poem through multiple readings—and to come through the "back door" to skills. 
As we shared a poem for every grade level, we demonstrated how it could be both meaningful and fun, starting with the grown up reading the poem aloud, then inviting children to join in on reading the poem aloud (with a variety of creative strategies). Next, we pause to talk with kids about the poem, connecting it with their lives and other reading or other poems. Then, we highlight ONE SKILL that  grows out of that poem organically and read the poem aloud again. Finally, we connect with another poem that is similar in some way or with a book of poetry that is similar. And all of this in five minutes! In The Poetry Friday Anthology we do all of this for you for every poem. These steps can also be applied to any poem in any other book of poetry, of course.

We had the audience reading poems with us and seeing how quickly and naturally poetry could be incorporated into weekly routines (or even more often!). I think the best compliment we heard was how practical and do-able this was. Exactly! We're trying to help people who don't already share poetry feel comfortable taking those steps. For more info, check out Pomelo Books and dig up my article, "Take 5 for Poetry" in the April 2013 issue of Book Links also available here.

And head on over to Todays' Little Ditty where Michelle Barnes is hosting the Poetry Friday party. See you there!

Friday, July 05, 2013

ALA Poetry Blast 2013

I am so happy to report that Marilyn Singer and Barbara Genco were able to bring back the Poetry Blast at the ALA convention in Chicago last weekend. This time it was held in the exhibit hall at the Pop Top stage on Monday morning. It was a nice screened off area with a great sound system, so you could hear perfectly. And as always, Marilyn and Barbara had a great line up of poets with marvelous introductions of each one. I took photos and film and am happy to share a few nuggets here. Enjoy!

Rebecca Kai Dotlich read from Grumbles from the Forest, the forthcoming Grumbles from the Town, When Riddles Come Rumbling, and here's one of my favorites, her poem tribute to her dad from Lemonade Sun. Such a sweet and moving moment!

I was so tickled to hear Bob Raczka (rhymes with Nebraska) since I'm a big fan of his witty Guyku and Lemonade. He read from Guyku, his forthcoming Joy in Mudville, a "Casey at the Bat" riff, and Santa's Haiku Journal. Bob definitely delivered with humor and cleverness. Kids are going to love that Joy is a girl baseball player. I did!

Tamera Will Wissinger was also a new treat since I hadn't heard her read before and I love her new (first) book, Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse. I loved how she wove a story through multiple poem forms and character voices.

Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, collaborators on the new poetry/prose book, Yes! We Are Latinos each read a poem from that book. They each brought such passion to the topic and to their readings. (Those video files seem to be too big for Blogspot, so I wasn't able to upload those. Sorry!)

Loved hearing Sid Farrar read from his recent (first) book, The Year Comes Round: Haiku Through the Seasons. His dry, droll voice added a fun twist to these lovely poems for the calendar year.

Laura Purdie Salas was up next and is such a natural teacher and reader sharing gems from Bookspeak! (book poems = a librarian's best friend) and Stampede (school poems = a teacher's best friend) as well as one of her poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology. (Thanks bunches, Laura!)

The marvelous Nikki Grimes read many selections from her new novel in poems, Words with Wings, with dear Ed Spicer sitting front and center-- the teacher referenced in that lovely book about the power of daydreaming. She also shared her powerful poem from Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out.

And the Blast ended once again with co-host Marilyn Singer sharing some of her latest gems: poems from Follow, Follow, her new companion to Mirror, Mirror, as well as some fascinating and funny selections from her presidential poems, Rutherford B., Who Was He? 

Thanks to Marilyn and Barbara for fighting to bring the Blast back and to Albert Whitman (and Michelle!), Charlesbridge (and Donna!), Disney-Hyperion (and Dina!), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (and Lisa!), and Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press (and Kerry!) for sponsoring a wonderful session. I am so glad to see the Blast back and hope it will be on the docket in Vegas next year! Poets in sparkle and sequins-- I can see it already!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Poetry, ALA, and CC

It's time for the annual conference of the American Library Association and I am lucky enough to be presenting a session along with my friend and collaborator, Janet Wong. If you're in Chicago for this event, we hope you'll join us on Sunday morning at 10:30 (McCormick Convention Center room S405). So far, 186 people have signed up to attend our session and we are THRILLED! Here's the lowdown:

Celebrating Poetry Fridays & Common Core Curriculum Connections 
Pausing for poetry every Friday is becoming a tradition in the children’s literature world and many librarians are incorporating this practice into their teaching and programming activities. In addition, the new Common Core standards include a poetry component highlighting a need for meaningful skills instruction. This proposed session will offer guidelines, instructional strategies, and print and digital resources for sharing poetry with children (ages 5-12) weekly while incorporating these required skills in meaningful ways. 

We'll kick off with an artsy "Poetry Is" slide show with images and poetry quotes.

Then we have a terrific PowerPoint slideshow highlighting our major points, if I do say so myself.  :-)  We'll be doling out the facts, connecting with the poetry standards from the Common Core and reading a lot of poetry and demonstrating how it can be celebrated with a bit of teaching tucked in along the way.

Here are a few nuggets to entice you:

When we think about what poetry does for children—and in just a few minutes of sharing on a regular basis—it’s a pretty impressive list. Author and literacy expert Mem Fox noted, "Rhymers will be readers; it's that simple. Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.” 

Writer and scholar Rebecca Rupp commented, “Poetry makes you smarter…. and all kinds of research indicates that rhyme, rhythm, and imagery boost memory formation and recall.”

The Common Core Poetry Standards in a nutshell!
Kindergarten: rhythm; sounds
1st Grade: senses; emotions
2nd Grade: repetition; alliteration
3rd Grade: forms and types of poetry
4th Grade: structure; meter
5th Grade: themes, metaphors, similes

Common Core Standards for Poetry
RL.K.5; RL.1.4; RL.2.4; RL.3.5; RL.4.2; RL.4.5; RL.5.2; RL.5.4; RL.5.5; RL.5.6; RL.5.7

What is The Poetry Friday Anthology series
(poems + mini-lessons)
*Quality poetry, previously unpublished, contemporary, diverse
*K-5; 6-8 (based on appeal and appropriateness, not Lexiles)
*Poem for every Friday at every grade = 36 poems for each grade level 
*Weekly themes across the gradesschool, pets, weather, food, families, holidays; connections across the curriculum (science, math, social studies)
*Take 5 strategies tied to Common Core (and TEKS in Texas) for every poem
*Plus, we offer a resource BLOG with links to each poet’s web site, plus each grade level is available in e-book form

We'll demonstrate our "Take 5" approach using poems from The Poetry Friday Anthology, as well as from other works of poetry-- like Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends, the bestselling children's poetry book of all time!

We'll also share poetry blog and web site resources too. We'll pack in as much as we can in our 60 minutes, I am sure!

Finally, Janet has promised interesting snacks to the first 50 people who show up and I have a ton of poetry "swag" to give away: poetry post-its, Poetry Friday buttons, poetry pens, poetry bookmarks, and poetry air fresheners for those long car trips this summer! Plus we have a few copies of The Poetry Friday Anthology (for K-5 and for middle school) to give away as door prizes. I have an excellent poetry trivia quiz to test your Poetry IQ! (For example, do you know what is widely considered the best-known American poem?)

Wishing you all a wonderful Poetry Friday-- which we will extend to continue through Poetry SUNDAY this week! Meanwhile, head on over to Amy's place at the Poem Farm for more Poetry Friday fun!