Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poetry Speaks Who I Am: inspirational, funny, strong poems for your tween and teen (ages 11 - 16)

Does poetry speak to your tween? I find that some tweens and teens are drawn automatically to poetry, and others shy away from it. Tweens have moved beyond the funny poems of Shel Silverstein, but want something that speaks to their experiences. If you're looking for poetry that speaks to your tween or teen, check out this new collection: Poetry Speaks Who I Am. I especially liked how it spoke to a wide range of tweens and teens, from 11 year olds on the cusp of adolescence to 16 year olds in the thick of teenage angst.
Poetry Speaks Who I Am with CD: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything ElsePoetry Speaks Who I Am with CD
Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence, and Everything Else in Your Amazing Future
by Elise Paschen, Dominique Raccah
IL: Sourcebooks, 2010
ages 11 - 16
available on Amazon and at your local library
Poetry Speaks Who I Am makes young teens and tweens think about their lives today. It's a collection of 108 poems that has been carefully selected to mirror the hopes and fears of kids today. It mixes contemporary and classic poets from a range of ethnic backgrounds. All of the poems help kids think about their lives, who they are and who they might be. As Elise Paschen writes in the introduction,
This is not a poetry anthology for adults, for children, for classroom study, or for required memorization and recitation. It’s made just for you. ... Youth inspires poets. So when we asked poets to send poems either that were important to them at your age or that they’d written about being your age, we received hundreds of submissions. Many writers try to capture those moments you may be thinking about now as you step into a new world.
I loved how this collection was organized. It's perfect for dipping into, and swimming a bit. While the poems are thoughtful and encourage reflection, the collection does not seem heavy-handed. "Vampire's Serenade" by Dana Gioia is on one page, followed by "Alone" by Edgar Allan Poe on the next. You'll find poems from a boy's perspective, poems that speak to girls, and poems that speak to all of us. Many poems are short, many tell stories from the poet's childhood, some are more abstract.

This collection includes a CD of many of the poems read aloud. I did not find the CD spoke to me as much as the written poems. I think, in part, I liked skipping through the poems until I landed on one that resonated. I also like reading poems a couple of times over, letting them sink in. I typically listen to CDs in the car, and it was harder to let the poems sink in.

Check out the website for Poetry Speaks. It's full of great resources for tweens, teens and teachers that dig poetry. It's an amazing site, full of riches. As they say, "The goal and purpose behind is to create a space where poetry can be discovered and rediscovered." You can discover new and old favorite poems, hear them read aloud by poets, experience slam and spoken word poetry, and even upload your own poetry and performances to the YourMic section.

Tweens and teens will also enjoy Betsy Franco's collections: Things I Have to Tell You: Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls and You Hear Me? Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys. These are powerful collections that tweens and teens really enjoy, since it's written by and for teens.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publisher, Sourcebooks. If you purchase something a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

Review ©2011 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.

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