Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Celebrating National Poetry Month 2016

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, and I am looking forward to celebrating it with friends near and far. It's been a difficult winter, and I've taken much needed time to focus on my family. Now that spring is bursting into bloom and we are on the mend, I'm happy to share books here once again.

How do you share poems with children? Do you have any advice to share? Here are my five top rules to go by:

1. Keep it short and share poetry often. Dip in and don't over-analyze. Enjoy what a poem has to offer and move on. Help kids see that there are all sorts of poems, and they get to choose the ones that they like. Maybe it's funny poems, maybe it's ones that twist a phrase unexpectedly, maybe it's poems with strong rhythm and rhyme that really sing to them.

2. Read poetry aloud. Share poetry by reading it aloud, for it was originally created as a spoken art. Encourage kids to read aloud poems they like. Read poems more than once -- showing kids that they might hear something new a second time around. If they complain, ask them if they listen to a favorite song only one time or over and over again.

3. Make it visual. I love poetry picture books for the way that illustrations add dimension to poetry. Take this idea and apply it to the way tweens and teens can appreciate poetry--sharing illustrated poems that speak to them. Some of the best projects I've seen are those where kids take or choose photographs to go with poetry. For a treasure-trove of examples, look at printable poems and poem pocket-cards from Pomelo Books.

4. Create connections. Poetry is both personal and communal. It can be a very private experience or a shared one. Help children make meaning to their own lives by sharing poetry that connects to their own life experiences.

5. Celebrate the power of poetry. Find a way to honor the power of poetry. Host a poetry slam. Encourage kids to create poetry movies or slideshows. Make a poetry wall with short quotes from favorite poems. Participate in Poem In Your Pocket Day. Re-read your favorite collection of poems or discover a new poet.

All month, I'll be sharing favorite poetry books and resources that inspire kids. It's good to be back. I look forward to connecting and sharing books for kids with this community of children's book lovers.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books