Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Celebrating poetry with our children: National Poetry Month 2013

I look forward to each April, when libraries around the US celebrate National Poetry Month. I share poetry with students throughout the year, but it's so much fun to shed special light on poetry each spring. Today I'd like to share a few resources that I particularly love.

Head to the fantastic blog Gotta Book for original poems from 30 different poets throughout the month of April. Greg Pincus has celebrated National Poetry Month for the past FIVE years, sharing poems from a wonderful array of poets. I've signed up for the poems to be delivered to me by email each day - what a lovely way to start my day! This lets me share them with all sorts of people. Here's the beginning of a recent favorite poem:
Immigrant's Song: Coal Dust, Peppers, and Tomatoes
Nancy Bo Flood

I come from coal dust
And hopes taken down, down, down
Deep mine shaft down underground.
Dig hard, spend lean, save, save, save,
Before the shaft fills and dreams drown.

for more, see the whole poem at Gotta Book
Another blog that I enjoy reading throughout the year is Poetry for Children, a blog written by Sylvia Vardell. Sylvia is a professor and author of the ALA bestseller Poetry Aloud Here, also Poetry People, Children’s Literature in Action and the nationally recognized blog, Poetry For Children, as well as co-editor of the first digital anthologies of poetry for young people, the PoetryTagTime series.
Poetry for Children
This month Sylvia is featuring a "blast from the past," connecting favorite classic poems to contemporary poetry. Her blog is full of resources and ideas that are wonderful to follow up on. I love the way she reminds us to dig up the classics, ranging from AA Milne's When We Were Very Young to Langston Hughes' The Dream Keeper. Then she ties in all sorts of contemporary poetry collections that you'll want to find.

Take the time to explore the interviews Sylvia has done with poets over the years. Last year she featured an interview with a different poet throughout the month of April. I don't think I can choose a favorite - there are so many wonderful interviews with the likes of Douglas Florian, Jane Yolen, Helen Frost and more!

The poetry e-books PoetryTagTime and P*Tag are excellent collections. I especially love the way they convey that poetry is a living, vital art, one that real people are creating in response to one another's art. As the description for PoetryTagTime says, "PoetryTagTime is a chain of poets and poems that makes language part of a playful game. When a poet is tagged, that poet must write a poem that connects with the previous poem. Part of the fun is the poet’s explanation of the sometimes whimsical “connection” between the two poems." P*Tag is a collection for teens where poets create poems in response to photographs. I've seen this collection really inspire teens writing their own poetry, based on photographs or images they see in the world around them.
Poem Starter Videos
by Laura Salas
Poet Laura Salas has created a great resource to give teachers a quick and simple poetry activity for the classroom. As she writes, "These are quick and casual and done for fun. I’ll also be posting the text of each poem each day. So you can use these posts just to find a delicious daily poem to read, or you can watch the video with your students and start writing!" I've had fun sharing these with teachers and friends.
Drawing into Poems
by Amy VanDerwater
Amy is a poet and former teacher who shares many original poems on her lovely blog Poem Farm. Some poems are hers, others are by students in her workshops. This month Amy is featuring Drawing into Poems. As she writes, "Each day of this month, I will slow myself down, look closely at something, draw it, and take notes around my drawing. I'll photograph and share the drawing and notes here each day. From time-to-time, at least on Fridays, I'll share a poem inspired by my drawings and notes." I love this notion of poetry inspiring us to slow down and notice details around us.

For more resources to share during National Poetry Month, check out this compilation by Jama Rattigan's blog post on Alphabet Soup, where she has pulled together many different suggestions. And certainly follow the weekly celebration on the Kidlitosphere of Poetry Friday. This month, the hosts are:
I hope you enjoy sharing poetry with your children this month and throughout the year. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Thank you for listing these great resources! My daughter loves to read fun poetry books. What books would you recommend specifically for 6-7 year old girls? I appreciate your suggestions.

    1. Some favorite recent poetry books include In the Sea, Step Out Gently, and Amazing Faces. You can click the "poetry" tag on the right side of my website and browse through the posts.

      For this age, I love sharing Mary Ann Hoberman's books and Jack Prelutsky's books. Both are full of wonderful rhythms, rhymes and humor. Enjoy!!

  2. Great resources! Poetry is something I truly need to do more of in my classroom. Thanks for sharing.
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. I love to see poetry for kids highlighted. As a public librarian, I try to encourage kids and parents to check out poetry books, which tend to get overlooked otherwise. And there is so much great stuff out there, as evidenced in your post.