Archive for the ‘Poetry’ category

Kwame Alexander Teaches Us – HOW TO READ A BOOK

February 27, 2020

Frequent readers of my blog know – I love picture books! I just glommed on to a fabulous picture book, and I don’t want to let it go!


How to Read a Book is written by Kwame Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author and winner of multiple awards. He received the Newbery Medal in 2015 for The Crossover, and in January of this year, he won a Newbery Honor for his book The Undefeated. Kwame Alexander’s picture book is a lyrical poem written from the heart. His powerful words evoke wonder and excitement and encourage children to open a book and “peel its gentle skin, like you would a clementine.” He writes about the feel, the smell, the sound, the look, and the taste of words readers discover in books. Alexander’s awe-inspiring poem speaks to the soul and opens the door to the joys of reading. Melissa Sweet’s illustrations add another dimension to Alexander’s delightful text. Sweet is also a New York Times bestselling author and artist, a two-time winner of the Caldecott Honor Medal, and winner of the 2012 Sibert Medal for Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Melissa Sweet’s unique collage illustrations complement Kwame Alexander’s poetic words. She uses a variety of materials including neon paint colors and pages from a discarded copy of Bambi which adds to the overall experience as readers immerse themselves in this book. Besides the eye-catching colors and attention to detail, Sweet also includes fold-out pages and smaller pages within pages that will appeal to readers. Each page turn is a gift of words and art.

This book is truly magic!



Say Goodnight

January 12, 2017

Have you ever had one of those weeks where time seems to disappear and you just can’t catch up? If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Each night as bedtime approaches, you can barely keep your eyes open. But there’s still one more thing on your to-do list.

Bedtime story!

Will you be able to achieve all your youngsters’ expectations of a bedtime story, or will you fall asleep between the pages? Never fear! When you need it the most, I have the perfect bedtime book for you to share.


One Minute till Bedtime:  60-Second Poems To Send You Off To Sleep selected by Kenn Nesbitt and illustrated by Christoph Niemann is the go-to book when days aren’t long enough.

This book is chock-full of whimsical, funny, and delightfully appealing poems written by a host of well-known authors. Think Nikki Grimes, Jack Prelutsky, Jon Scieszka, Judith Viorst, Verla Kay, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Jane Yolen, Lemony Snicket, J. Patrick Lewis …  I could on and on naming the amazing people who are contributors, but time is of the essence. Once you open this book and begin to read, you won’t want to put it down. In a flash, you and your youngster will be captivated!

Say goodnight!



Now You See It, Now You Don’t

May 15, 2014

It’s that time of year when I begin to inventory the books in the library. Some days it takes me longer than others – especially when I discover an interesting book I had forgotten was on our shelves. That’s when inventory stops, and I take a little break to enjoy what I’ve missed. Where in the Wild? is one of those books. It’s a perfect read for anyone at anytime.


This book is written by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy and the amazing photographs are by Dwight Kuhn. Schwartz and Schy, who are husband and wife, teamed together to craft a book about camouflaged creatures. Various forms of poetry pose a challenge for readers as they try to discover what creatures are hidden in Kuhn’s pictures. On a separate page, additional information about that animal is included. What makes this book so appealing, besides the clever poems and fascinating facts, are Kuhn’s captivating photographs of the camouflaged creatures. After carefully searching for the hidden creature, the reader can lift the gatefold to reveal its whereabouts. I found this award-winning book  delightful, and I think young readers will, too!

If you like this book, there are two companion books by the same team:

Where Else in the Wild?

What in the Wild?


It’s Poetry Month!

April 3, 2014

Haiku, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, has always been a favorite of mine. With only seventeen syllables in the entire poem, its simplicity is deceiving. Usually written about nature, crafting a haiku that speaks to its readers takes thought and creativity.

The book, The Year Comes Round: Haiku through the Seasons, written by Sid Farrar and illustrated by Ilse Plume is an excellent way to introduce young readers and writers to a specific form of poetry. The author writes about the changing canvas of the earth as winter, spring, summer, and fall come and go. Accompanying the seasonal poems are beautiful illustrations by Ilse Plume. The book lends itself to teaching syllables and experiencing the glories of nature as it wakes up from a long winter’s nap and evolves throughout the year. I recommend this book as a way to celebrate nature and Poetry Month.


Love A Tree

May 16, 2013

Today is LOVE A TREE DAY!  Every tree offers something magical – fragrant blossoms, cool shade, perfect climbing branches, colorful autumn leaves, oxygen, fruits, nuts, homes for animals, hiding places. I can’t imagine a landscape without a tree. Trees are a gift to us.

When I was in grade school, we had to memorize Joyce Kilmer’s poem, “Trees.” There were giggles and shades of embarrassment as the words, breast and bosom, stumbled out of our mouths. But the poem has stuck with me. I can still recite it, and I no longer get embarrassed when I do. Kilmer’s poem reads like a thank you prayer. The words in the last line —“But only God can make a tree”— are  powerful words and food for thought.

Here are some tree books that offer some food for thought.

A Tree Is Nice written by Janice May Udry and illustrated by Marc Simont

This book is a Caldecott Award Winner. In simple text, Udry tells how a tree can bring enjoyment to all.

Someday a Tree written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ronald Himler

Careless dumping of toxic materials destroys a beloved tree, but a little girl discovers something she can do to make others hope for a new beginning.

The Giving Tree written and illustrated by Shel Silvertein

A relationship between a boy and tree demonstrates unconditional love.

The Grandad Tree written by Trish Cooke and illustrated by Sharon Wilson

An apple tree grows and changes through the seasons just like the children’s grandad changes through the season of his life. Watching nature, the children realize special memories will never die.

Give a tree a hug today!

Black History Month

February 21, 2013

I couldn’t let Black History Month pass by without mentioning a wonderful book written by award-winning poet, Arnold Adoff with paintings by the very talented R. Gregory Christie.

Roots and Blues A Celebration is a book filled with poems that speak of the difficult journey of African American slaves and how the joys and sorrows in their lives were intertwined with the rhythm and music of the world around them.


Adoff’s word choice and placement of words create rhythmic patterns that flow off the page and sing to the reader. With his unique style, Adoff introduces the history and culture of the blues to readers. References to such music greats as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and others are made. Interspersed throughout the book are paintings by R. Gregory Christie, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner, that capture the suffering and joy of African American life.

This is a book to be savored.

Poetry Friday

April 20, 2012

“A poem begins with a lump in the throat.” ~Robert Frost

During the month of April, I’ve been introducing various types of poetry to my library students. We’ve discussed how imagination, word choice, rhythm, and emotion are important elements in poetry. Here’s a sampling from some students who took the challenge to write a poem.

With a bit of help from me, first graders worked together to create these simple, but fun poems.




Flower power, spring shower.




Trees grow, very slow.




Apple seeds, water needs.

Other students tried Haiku and a Cinquain.

Where sea turtles swim

Where sharks rule the seven seas

Is a place for me   ~Samuel Grade 3

Freedom is not free

You have to fight for its price

I thank the veterans   ~Erin Grade 5

Swishing back and forth

This field – silent and peaceful

Never to be left   ~Matteo Grade 4


Juicy, wrinkled

Rolls, crunches, shrinks

Juicy or dried fruit

Raisin   ~Sawm Grade 5

Writing is never easy, but you have to begin somewhere. I applaud these students for taking the challenge.

Lip Smacking Poems

April 9, 2010

Some school lunches are scrumptious, and some are just plain gross! From all the yummy words below, it appears the cooks in our school get two spatulas up for their school lunches.

Celebrate Poetry Friday by taking a bite out of these lip smacking poems by fourth and fifth grade students.

Jello                                                                              Pancakes

Squishy, jiggly                                                          Soft, soggy

Scooping, slurping, swallowing                         Dribbling, chewing, eating

Delicious, tasty, good time                                  I love my pancakes

Jello                                                                               Soggy                                                                        

                       ─ Gabby Coulthard                                             ─ Hannah Mrochek

Eggs and bacon, yum                                            Nachos, yummy good               

fried or scrambled, delicious                             the brown beef is spicy hot

breakfast, brunch, and lunch                             I am lost in it!

                        ─ Logan Collien                                                      ─ Thomas Robson

                                                  Steamy potatoes

                                                  Yes! They are a yummy lunch

                                                  Can I eat right now?

                                                                        — Cain Streight

Working hard before lunch. 


Alas, not all lunches pass the kid taste test. Those get dumped.

                                                  Chicken in gravy

                                                  Soggy, gross

                                                  Sniff, lick, spit

                                                  Worst lunch, disgusting, blah


          — Kylie Peters

Some favorite poetry books from our library:  Oh, No! Where Are My Pants? And Other Disasters: Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins (HarperCollins, 2005), Please Bury Me in the Library by J. Patrick Lewis (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2005). Holiday Stew: A Kid’s Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems by Jenny Whitehead (Henry Holt & Co., 2007)

A Short Poem for a Short Post

April 6, 2010

Poetry is very versatile. It comes in a variety of forms and can evoke many different emotions. Below is a short poem one of my third graders wrote for me a few years ago.


Strict and serious,

Helpful and caring,

Special in their own way.

                                                  — Emily Cairns

Hummm…. Strict and serious? Is that me? It must have been some other teacher she was talking about! 

Hop Aboard the Poetry Train!

April 2, 2010

“Poetry is plucking at the heartstrings, and making music with them.” ─ Dennis Gabor

Books were a part of our home décor when I was growing up. There were books on tables, books on chairs, books next to beds, and books shelved in the bathroom. (Doesn’t everyone do that?) There was also a bookcase filled with old volumes of books. That’s where I found a poetry book and my favorite poet. As I leafed through the pages, a short poem caught my eye. It began…

                                          I’m nobody! Who are you?

                                          Are you nobody, too?

I loved that poem, and from then on I loved Emily Dickinson. When I first read the poem as a child, I felt like Emily Dickinson was speaking directly to me. It made me feel good to know that somebody felt like a nobody, too, and it didn’t matter. It was just good to be yourself.

As an educator, I’m always on the lookout for good poetry books. When I discovered the Poetry for Young People series, I was excited. These books provide a perfect way for me to introduce some of my favorite poets to my students – Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Lewis Carroll, William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman.

I have many more poets on my list of favorites. There are the poets who tickle the funny bone, poets who make you think, poets who celebrate nature and everyday life – poets like Shel Silverstein, Bruce Lansky, Jack Prelutsky, Lee Bennett Hopkins, Robert Louis Stevenson, Karla Kuskin, Nikki Grimes, J. Patrick Lewis, and so many more talented writers.  

Today is Poetry Friday and April is National Poetry Month. It’s a perfect time to “Hop Aboard the Poetry Train!”

                                           Looking for rhythm? Looking for rhyme?

                                           Try a poem, but take your time.

                                           There are lots to choose, as you will see

                                           Different forms of poetry.

                                           Free verse, limericks, sonnets, haiku.

                                           Wait there’s more! I’m not quite through.

                                           Cinquains, quatrains, and a little rap

                                           Keep the beat, snappity snap!

                                           Listen carefully, hear the refrain.

                                           Hop aboard the poetry train!

One of my favorite poetry books:  A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (Sterling, 2007)

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