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. 

Friday, July 21, 2017


Are you a member of NCTE and a subscriber to the journal, Language Arts? I'm so happy to report that the theme of their July issue is... POETRY!  And I have an article in that issue! (happy dance!)

The table of contents includes:
"Lived Life through a Colored Lens": Culturally Sustaining Poetry in an Urban Literacy Classoom
by Emily Machado, Andrea Vaughan, Rick Coppola, and Rebecca Woodard

Poems that Move: Children Writing Poetry beyond Popularized Poetic Forms
by Janine Certo

Demystifying Poetry for Middle Grades Students through Collaborative, Multimodal Writing
by Megan Guise and Noel Friend

Language Arts Lessons
Poetry Power: Understanding Language, Content, and Culture through Poetry
by ME!

Invited Dialogue
Poetic Possibilities: A Conversation with WordSong Editor Rebecca David on the Beauty and Passion of Poetry
by Jennifer D. Turner

Children's Literature Reviews
2016 Notable Children's Poetry Books
by Grace Enriquez, Erika Thulin Dawes, Katie Egan Cunningham, and Mary Ann Capiello

Perspectives on Practice
A Wiggle of Worms and a Passion for Poetry: A Community Collaboration
by Lorian Steider Brady and Dianne White 

What a great issue, right? 
There is lots to think about in this issue with great examples of both thoughtful analysis and practical application. Be sure to check it out. Meanwhile, here are three brief excerpts from my piece (in case you are NOT a subscriber). 

Graphic from The Logonauts

Now head on over to The Logonauts where Katie is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. See you there!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Poetry + Art

After a too-long break, I need to get busy again. It's time to catch up and share the fun that Janet (Wong) and I had at the Arts Express conference in Utah. I had never been to a teacher's conference that focused entirely on the arts before and it was so much fun!  It was labeled: BUILDING BRIDGES THROUGH THE ARTS-- 
"a two-day event that provides arts integration instruction in all five art forms: dance, drama, media arts, music, and visual arts-- with special insights on ways to integrate the arts with core curriculum. The conference is for elementary classroom teachers, administrators, and parents attending together as they work to create s school rich in arts instruction and integration."

It was such an energy-filled and inspiring event! We were keynote speakers on the topic of "Poetry Across the Curriculum: Integrating Literacy and the Arts" and how to connect poetry with visual art, music, voice, movement, and dance using our “Take 5” approach to integrate literacy and the arts in five minutes.

We shared many of our Poetry Friday Anthology poems (and led the audience in singing, chanting, dancing, readers theater, and acting out poems) and we highlighted many other poetry books that have an arts focus. Here are some of the resources we provided.

Poetry Books about Color

The role of color in evoking imagery in a poem is primal. The poetry books listed here exemplify the effective and powerful place of color in poetry, whether in reflecting nature or dealing with issues of race.

Adoff, Arnold. 1973/2004. Black is Brown is Tan. New York: Harper & Row/Amistad.
Graham, Joan Bransfield. 1999. Flicker Flash. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Hines, Anna Grossnickle. 2005. Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts. New York: Greenwillow.
Iyengar, Malathi Michelle. 2009. Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the Color Brown. San Francisco: Children’s Book Press.
Larios, Julie. 2006. Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary. Orlando: Harcourt.
Luján, Jorge. 2008. Colors! Colores! Ill. by Piet Grobler. Toronto: Groundwood. 
Mora, Pat. 1996. Confetti: Poems for Children. New York: Lee & Low.
O’Neill, Mary. 1989. Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Color. New York: Doubleday.
Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Flashy, Clashy, and Oh-So-Splashy: Poems about Color. Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
Sidman, Joyce. 2009. Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Thomas, Joyce Carol. 2008. The Blacker the Berry. Illus. by Floyd Cooper. New York: Amistad.
Yolen, Jane. 2000. Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills.

Poetry Books that Feature Fine Art 

Since poetry is full of imagery and emotion, it may not be surprising that it has often been paired with fine art from around the world. Books such as these can provide an introduction to art, as well as an opportunity to discuss the sources of artistic and poetic inspiration. Consider these examples. Several of these feature poetry written in response to the art, called “ekphrastic” poetry. Encourage aspiring writers to choose a piece of art that “speaks” to them and then try writing a poem in response to it. 

Brenner, Barbara. Ed. 2000. Voices: Poetry and Art from Around the World. Washington, DC: National Geographic Society.
Greenberg, Jan. 2001. Heart to Heart: New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art. New York: Abrams. 
Greenberg, Jan. 2008. Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World. New York: Abrams.
Heard, Georgia. Ed. 2000.  Songs of Myself:  An Anthology of Poems and Art.  New York: Mondo. 
Koch, Kenneth, and Kate Farrell. Eds. 1985. Talking to the Sun; An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People. New York: Henry Holt.
Lach, William. Ed. 1999. Curious Cats in Art and Poetry for Children. New York: Atheneum.
Lewis, J. Patrick. 2008. Michelangelo’s World. Mankato, MN: Creative Editions.
Lewis, J. Patrick and Yolen, Jane. 2011. Self Portrait with Seven Fingers: A Life of Marc Chagall in Verse. Mankato, MN: Creative Editions.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Ed. 1998. The Space Between Our Footsteps:  Poems and Paintings From the Middle East. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Ed. 1995. The Tree is Older than You Are:  A Bilingual Gathering of Poems and Stories from Mexico with Paintings by Mexican Artists. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Panzer, Nora. Ed. 1994. Celebrate America in Poetry and Art. New York: Hyperion.
Rochelle, Belinda. Ed. 2001. Words with Wings:  A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art. New York: HarperCollins. 
Siebert, Diane. 2006. Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art. San Francisco: Chronicle.
Sullivan, Charles. Ed. 1994. Here is My Kingdom: Hispanic-American Literature and Art for Young People.  New York: Abrams.
Sullivan, Charles. Ed. 1989. Imaginary Gardens; American Poetry and Art for Young People. New York: Abrams. 
Whipple, Laura. Ed. 1994. Celebrating America: A Collection of Poems and Images of the American Spirit. New York: Philomel.

12 Poet Artists

There are many poets who also produce the illustrations for their own poetry collections. They are known for their art, as well as their writing, including Douglas Florian’s distinctive paintings+collages, the outrageous cartoon monsters of Adam Rex, the iconic photography of Charles R. Smith, Jr., the textured quilts of Anna Grossnickle Hines, the irreverent pen and ink sketches of Shel Silverstein, and more. Here are a few titles by each of a dozen poet-artists and artist-poets. Encourage young people to collaborate with a partner, one as illustrator and one as writer, in creating their own poem and art.

Agee, Jon. 2009. Orangutan Tongs; Poems to Tangle Your Tongue. New York: Disney-Hyperion.
Brown, Calef. 2010. Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness. Houghton Mifflin.
Cyrus, Kurt. 2005. Hotel Deep: Light Verse from Dark Water. Harcourt.
Ehlert, Lois. 2010. Lots of Spots. New York: Beach Lane Books.
Florian, Douglas. 2009. Dinothesaurus. New York: Simon & Schuster. 
Grandits, John. 2007. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems. New York: Clarion.
Hines, Anna Grossnickle. 2011. Peaceful Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts. New York: Greenwillow.
Rex, Adam. 2005. Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich. San Diego: Harcourt.
Silverstein, Shel. 1974. Where the Sidewalk Ends. New York: Harper and Row. 
Smith, Hope Anita. 2009. Mother; Poems. New York: Henry Holt. 
Wassenhove, Sue Van. 2008. The Seldom-Ever-Shady Glades. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong
Weinstock, Robert. 2010. Can You Dig It? New York: Disney-Hyperion. 

Songs in Poetry Books for Young People

The link between songs and poetry is very close, with lyrics and poems sharing rhythm, rhyme, and emotional content. Singing songs and performing poems can also share similarities in maximizing the oral medium, incorporating musical or percussion instruments, and using gesture and movement. From lullabies to parodies, here are a few examples of songs, lyrics, and poems in book form.

Andrews, Julie and Hamilton, Emma Watson. Eds. 2009. Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies. Ill. by James McMullan. New York: Little, Brown.
Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. Four Ancestors: Stories, Songs, and Poems from Native North America. Mahwah, NJ: BridgeWater Books.
Bryan, Ashley. 2003. All Night, All Day: A Child's First Book of African-American Spirituals. New York: Atheneum.
Delacre, Lulu. 2004. Arrorró Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games. New York: Lee & Low.
Fox, Dan. Ed. 2003. A Treasury of Children’s Songs: Forty Favorites to Sing and Play. New York: Henry Holt.
Henderson, Kathy. 2011. Hush, Baby, Hush! Lullabies from Around the World. Seattle: Frances Lincoln.
Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 1997. Song and Dance: Poems. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Katz, Alan. 2011. Mosquitoes Are Ruining My Summer! And Other Silly Dilly Camp Songs. New York: McElderry.
Lessac, Frane, Ed. 2003. Camp Granada: Sing-Along Camp Songs. New York: Henry Holt.
Ode, Eric. 2007. Tall Tales of the Wild West (and a few short ones): A Humorous Collection of Cowboy Poems and Songs. New York: Meadowbrook Press.
Orozco, José-Luis. 2002.  Fiestas: A Year of Latin American Songs of Celebration. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
Yolen, Jane. 2005. Trot, Trot to Boston: Lap Songs, Finger Plays, Clapping Games, and Pantomime Rhymes. Somerville, MA: Cambridge: Candlewick Press.

Then we also conducted a one-hour workshop (twice) showing how we could create simple poem collages. We provided individually printed poems as well as simple art supplies like magazine photos, googly eyes, washi tape, and more. We walked through how to share anchor and mentor poems and lead response activities. Their creations were marvelous and varied and we created a Pinterest board featuring many of them which you can see here.  

It's a simple activity that our audience of teachers felt they could take back to their classrooms and do with their students too. Plus, we talked about the value of choosing a meaningful poem, selecting images that "unpacked" the meaning of the poem, and then making choices about how to feature and organize it all. Should I cut the poem apart into stanzas or individual lines? Should I express the poem's content literally or in abstract ways? Should I stay within the 8.5 x 11 frame or go beyond it? It really gave us an opportunity to slow down in reading and understanding a poem and think more deeply about what the poem said and meant and suggested. Here are a few examples: 

We also created a gallery of poem collages on the lockers of the school hallway and people had fun browsing through the poems all day long. 

If you ever have a chance to attend or participate, we recommend it! We hope to go back some day!

Meanwhile, check out the rest of our Poetry Friday pals and their posts over at Random Noodling. Thanks, Diane, for hosting our Poetry Friday party! I'm glad to be back!

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Happy Star Wars Day!

May 4 is Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You) and since I'm a big Star Wars fan, I have to share a poem, of course. I always like to remix an existing poem and frame it against a Star Wars motif to think about it in a new way. So, here's Carmen Tafolla's "Everyday Astronaut" from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science. 

And just for fun, here are some photos from our family's time at Star Wars Celebration last month (that's the convention for big-time Star Wars nerds like us).

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Día today!

It's time for Día!

Children’s Day, Book Day or El día de los niños, el día de los libros—often known as Día (day in Spanish)—is a year-long commitment to linking all children and families to books originated by author and literacy advocate Pat Mora. Día, a collaboration of national literacy organizations, presses, and readers, creatively celebrates all our children and the the importance of "bookjoy" in their daily lives, and promotes Children’s Day, Book Day celebrations. April book fiestas are held in schools, libraries, parks, homes, and elsewhere on or near April 30. 

Here's Pat speaking briefly about Día:

Pat also wrote a poem about celebrating Día for The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations:

And here are the Take 5 activities that accompany this poem:

1. While reading this poem aloud, be sure to clap (in the first stanza), tap (in the second stanza), snap (in the third stanza), and do all three in the final stanza.
2. Share the poem aloud again, inviting children to join in on the clapping, tapping, and snapping, too. 
3. Use the resources at to plan a Día celebration program for Children’s Day/Book Day, such as hosting a book club or downloading quick coloring pages and activity sheets.
4. Pair this poem with the picture book Book Fiesta! Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day/Celebremos El día de los niños, el día de los libros by Pat Mora (Rayo, 2009) and encourage children to join in on the cheers.
5. Connect with another poem that celebrates reading, “At Our House” by Virginia Euwer Wolff (November, pages 286-287), and with the bilingual poems of Colors! Colores! by Jorge Luján (Groundwood, 2008). 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Dallas Book Festival

I am so pleased to be invited to speak at the Dallas Book Festival and give a little glimpse into the history of children's literature (in 45 minutes!). I decided to use the lens of poetry (of course) to talk about how children's literature has evolved-- a chance to look back, to revisit some old favorites, and to share poetry with a new audience. Here are just a few nuggets from my slide show. Enjoy!

Did you know one of the earliest books published in the U.S. for children included the poem that most people know as the song, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"?
 Probably the best known American poem is this holiday classic:
 A.A. Milne gave us Winnie the Pooh and many witty poems for children. This is also the first children's book I owned as a child-- given to me by my dad.
Langston Hughes published one book intended for young people (in his lifetime) and this is one of my favorite books of poetry of all time and by any poet. 

This British couple brought scholarly study to the world of children's oral folklore, collecting thousands of children's rhymes and games from the playground. 

The best-selling book of poetry for young people OF ALL TIME is this one:
This study helped us see that children really love funny, rhyming poetry. (But not JUST funny, rhyming poetry.) 
The first award for children's poetry was established by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1977. 
Only 5 children's books have been awarded the Newbery medal since it was established in 1922 and this was the first one. 
According to Ann Terry's study, this was children's all-time favorite poem at that time: 
Jack Prelutsky had authored several books of poetry before compiling this MAJOR anthology and followed with many additional wonderful works of his own. 

The SECOND book of poetry for young people to win the Newbery medal:
The third book of poetry for young people to win the Newbery medal, a novel in verse:
An award is established for the Poet Laureate who writes for young people!
The fourth book of poetry for young people to win the Newbery medal:
The fifth book of poetry for young people to win the Newbery medal, a novel in verse: 
And indulge me as I promoted the Poetry Friday series too... 

Friday, April 28, 2017

TLA Poetry Round Up 2017 Part 2

I have already shared basic info about the recent TLA conference, but I thought I'd add a few more nuggets. It's always fun to go to the annual conference of the Texas Library Association-- such a great event that's well organized, well attended, and full of opportunities to talk about books, reading, and POETRY!  I'm so pleased and proud that the Poetry Round Up continues to make the program and this year was lucky #13! :-)  And it's always fun to travel to San Antonio! 

The conference leadership was pushing to make this conference more interactive, so I prepared readers' theater scripts of each poet's work. I took an excerpt from each of their books and broke it into reading parts for various characters, highlighted the scripts for volunteers, and made goofy character signs for each volunteer to wear so the audience would find it easy to follow. Then I crossed my fingers that I could solicit volunteers from the audience and that the poets would be pleased at how that worked (since it meant they would have WAY less time to read). YAY! It all worked! Lots of people volunteered (including lots of my former students) and the poets really loved hearing their work read aloud by others. 

Then Janet (Wong) and I were lucky enough to have a proposal accepted to feature poetry and curriculum skills called "Building Blocks of Language Learning." We focused on guiding  librarians on helping teachers choose and share poetry in fun ways while still highlighting basic language skills. It was a BIG hit and I shared many of the slides last week. 

Finally, I also represented my university in several ways-- working the TWU booth and supporting a former student who won a service award-- the lovely Rose Brock. Here are a few more glimpses of those busy 3 days. Enjoy! And think about coming to TLA next year. It will be in Dallas-- just 15 minutes from my house!