Monday, December 21, 2009

I found this sweet little poem by Oliver Herford in last week's Poetry Friday roundup. I loved it so much I had to share it here! The rest of the roundup is at Susan Writes. Merry Christmas!

I Heard a Bird Sing--

I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

Bird graphic courtesty of Penniwig's.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hanukkah began Friday at sundown. Here is a poem in honor of the Jewish Festival of Lights. The rest of the Poetry Friday lineup can be found at Random Noodling.

Blessed is the Match

by Hannah Senesh

Blessed is the match consumed
in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns
in the secret fastness of the heart.

Read the rest of the poem and learn more about Hannah Senesh here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Poetry Friday Schedule

Here is the Poetry Friday schedule for the next few weeks:

11/27 Becky (Becky's Book Reviews)
12/4 Elaine (Wild Rose Reader)
12/11 Diane (Random Noodling)
12/18 Susan (Susan Writes)
12/25 Kate (Book Aunt)
1/1 Mary Lee (A Year of Reading)
1/8 Tricia (Miss Rumphius Effect)
1/15 Mary Ann (Great Kid Books)
1/22 Liz (Liz in Ink)
1/29 Anastasia (Picture Book of the Day)
2/5 Olgy (Children Come First)
2/12 Lee (I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the hell do I read?)
2/19 Irene (
2/26 Jone (Check It Out)

I've been looking for this one:

Introduction to Poetry

Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

Read the rest of the poem here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Poetry Roundup this week is over at The Drift Record. I found this Thanksgiving Blessing among the posts at Carol's Corner. It certainly was a blessing and it gave me food for thought. I am as thankful for it as I am the food I am about to start cooking! I felt like the words were written especially for me. This is why I love Poetry Friday. There are treasures out there just waiting to be found. Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy!


May we be aware not of the things we lack,
but of all that we have.

May we feel not the absence of those we love,
but the presence of those who love us.

May we see not just the harshness of our world,
but the gentleness of its mystery.

May we know not the cold of despair,
but the warmth of hope rising.

May we speak not of our hurts and losses,
but of our healings and blessings.

May we be with each other not in the shadows of the past,
but in the light of the present.

May we bring to our table not judgment, resentment, or anger,
but acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness.

May we remember to feed our spirit by living out of thankfulness.


Friday, November 13, 2009

I'm back from New York City. It's good to be home. It's Poetry Friday, so here I will share a little piece of my time in the city by posting a poem that I had the privilege of hearing the author, Dave Johnson, read during the Poetry In The Branches Institute at Poets House last week. The rest of the Poetry Friday roundup can be found at GottaBook. Head on over, read, and post!


We got on the train together
at the end of the line.
Alone, we eyed each other.
At each stop more
and more people got on.
I looked at all of them.
Some of them handsome,
some pretty sharp
and hard, some
with soft features.
One or two were out
and out beautiful.
But each time
I would look back at you,
and you would catch me and wait
until one of us had to cut away.
This went on and on into Manhattan.
And as sweet and tempting
as all the new riders looked,
I couldn't stop watching you.
The more and more stops
we made together,
the more I knew, we were becoming attached.
By the time we made it to Chinatown we had a history
and I knew there was no turning back
I also knew, if I looked
at another, too long,
without coming back to you,
it would officially be, cheating,
and this, I could never do.
By the time we got to the West Village
we both were holding on
for the inevitable.
We're talking long beyond anticipation here.
I was sweating the way men will,
right before they give
all they've got,
because they know,
even the most animalistic,
that they are just before doing something
they can no longer control,
and no matter what
words slip out of them
they will not be enough
to explain what is happening.
At 51st street the doors
opened quickly
and with the rush
of the midtown crush hour,
you stared hard, like you too
were giving off
a sweat
-a teeth grinding, lip curling
way back inside the mouth so
the nose holes can swell
and flare to get the deepest
lung suck possible sweat-
that you too, were not fully, understanding.
And with a drop of your eyes
you grabbed the center pole and were shuffled
throught the doors.
You were gone and I was left with
my mouth in the shape
of an imperfect O.
I am telling this because
I wanted you to know.
The whole time we were together,
I was never cheating on you.
And as hard as it was to let you go,
I rode with you, way past,
my stop.

Dave Johnson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm not in Little Rock anymore. In fact, last night I was in the beautiful St. James Theatre on Broadway watching Finian's Rainbow. Rick and I enjoyed the show full of beautiful music, great dancing, and fabulously talented cast! Even the set was delightful! More photos from the show here: Broadway Photos |

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm in New York City this weekend attending Poets House Poetry in the Branches National Institute. I'm learning how to build a good poetry collection and how to conduct exciting poetry programs in the library. If you don't know about Poets House, PLEASE go to their website ( and click around. They have just moved into a beautiful new building in Lower Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River. Here is a poem I found in the stacks there today. The rest of the Poetry Friday roundup is over at Wild Rose Reader.

Human Heart by Gregory Orr

Human heart -
That tender engine
Love revs it;
Loss stalls it.
What can make it
Go Again?
The poem, the poem.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jennie at Biblio Phile is hosting Poetry Friday today. Head on over and post a link. This week I am posting a traditional English ballad, Scarborough Fair, upon which the young adult novel, Impossible, the National Book Award Finalist by Nancy Werlin is based.

Be sure and visit the book's website for interesting history about the ballad and more information about the book.

and here's another website with some fun facts:

Scarborough Fair

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Remember me to one who lives there,
For once she was a true love of mine.

Have her make me a cambric shirt,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Without a seam or fine needle work,
And then she'll be a true love of mine.

Have her wash it in yonder dry well,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Where ne'er a drop of water e'er fell.
And then she'll be a true love of mine.

Have her find me an acre of land
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Between the sea and over the sand,
And then she'll be a true love of mine.

Plow the land with the horn of a lamb
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Then sow some seeds from north of the dam
And then she'll be a true love of mine.

If she tells me she can't, I'll reply
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Let me know that at least she will try
And then she'll be a true love of mine.

Love imposes impossible tasks,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Though not more than any heart asks
And I must know she's a true love of mine.

Dear, when thou has finished thy task,
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme,
Come to me, my hand for to ask,
For thou then art a true love of mine.

Golden Encyclopedia of Folk Music
Hal Leonard Publishing Corp. Milwaukee, WI

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The poetry roundup is over at Big A, little a. I'm in today with a poem shared earlier this week by a friend and colleague who recently celebrated her wedding anniversary, who had this poem read at her wedding. It is posted here in her honor, and in honor of my favorite newlyweds who are honeymooning in Maine, after one of the all-time best weddings ever; and in thanksgiving for my own sweet life partner!

To My Dear and Loving Husband

by Anne Bradstreet

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let’s so persever,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) is generally considered the first American poet. Born around 1612 near Northampton, England, she married Simon

. . . MORE »

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009


1. Berneier-Grand, Carment T. 2004. Cesar, Si, Se Puede! Yes We Can; Ill. by David Diaz. Tarrytown, NY: Marchall Cavendish. ISBN 0761452834

2. Ferman, Katie. 2004. You . . . and Your Dad. Stone Soup. May/June Issue. Accessed April 23, 2009.

3. Florian, Douglas. 2007. Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings. Orlando: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0152053727

4. Frank, John. 2008. Keepers: Treasure-Hunt Poems. Photographs by Ken Robbins. New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 9781596431973

5. Giovanni, Nikki; Paschen, Elise; and Raccah, Dominique. 2005. Poetry Speaks to Children. Ill. By Wendy Rasmussen, Judy Love and Paula Zinngrage Wendland. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks MediaFusion. ISBN 1402203292

6. Hemphill, Stephanie. 2007. Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath. New York: Random House. ISBN 0440239680

7. Hoberman, Mary Ann. 2002. Right Outside My Window. Ill. by Nicholas Wilton. Mondo Publishing. ISBN 1590341945

8. Hopkins, Lee Bennett.1983. The Sky is Full of Song. Ill. by Dirk Zimmer. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060225823.

9. Janeczko, Paul B. 2007. Hey, you!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things. Ill. by Robert Rayevskey. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060523476

10. Kaul, Ashok. When I Was Five. 2008. Stone Soup, September/Ocotber Issue. Accessed April 23, 2009.

11. Kennedy, Caroline. 2005. A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children. Ill. by Jon J. Muth. Hyperion. ISBN 0786851112

12. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2007. The Brothers' War, Civil War Voices in National Geographic, ISBN 978-1-4263-0037-0

13. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. Please Bury Me in the Library. Ill. by Kyle M. Stone. New York, NY: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152163875.

14. Martin, Bill Jr. with Sampson, Michael. 2008. The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416939717

15. Schwartz, Alvin. 1992. And the Green Grass Grew All Around; Folk Poetry from Everyone. Ill. by Sue Truesdell. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0064462145

16. Thomas, Joyce Carol. 2008. The Blacker the Berry. Ill. by Floyd Cooper. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060253754

17. Thomas, Joyce Carol. 1998. Cherish Me. Ill. by Nneka Bennett. New York, NY: HarperFestival . ISBN 0694010979

18. Weisburd, Stefi. 2008. Barefoot, Poems for Naked Feet. Ill. by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Wordsong. ISBN 1416939717

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Module 6

POETRY BREAK: SERIOUS--- A serious poem about a difficult or sensitive subject in children’s or teens’ lives

Think back to when you were five years old. Try to remember what it felt like to be five years old and going to school for the very first time. The following poem is about a little boy's first day of school.

When I Was Five
by Ashok Kaul, age 11,New York, New York

      When I was five, I got out of school.
      It was the first day and
      I had already made friends.
      But none of us knew
      what was happening.
      I heard a lot of talk about
      crash mess fall tall.
      Why was everyone talking
      about mess fall hit hurt
      and tears. Fear.
      My mom took me home.
      The streets were empty.
      I heard fire trucks and police cars.
      Then my mom told me.
      The two towers were missing.
      I was five. It was September 11.
      Suddenly, I felt unsure.

        From the September/October 2008 issue of Stone Soup. Accessed April 23, 2009

                          Take a few minutes of silence to let the simple words of the poem soak in and to mark the solemnity of the subject, then ask the following questions.

                          What happened while Ashok was in school? Talk about what happened on September 11 in terms appropriate to the age of the children.

                          How do you think Ashok felt when he left for school that morning. How do you think he felt when the school day was over?

                          Do you remember what you were doing on September 11, 2001? Share (write and/or discuss)

                          What is the most memorable day in your life? (write and/or discuss)

                          Do you think it made Ashok feel better to write about his first day of school?

                          Language, whether spoken or written, helps people process emotion. Encourage children to talk and write about memorable events.

                          POETRY BOOK REVIEW: JANECZKO-- A poetry collection compiled by Paul Janeczko

                              Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes and Other Fun Things


                                Paul Janeczko has collected poems written to (yes, to) all sorts of things from skyscrapers and mosquitoes, as the title indicates, to sneakers and light beams. The poem below is just one whimsical example. The mixed-media illustrations by Rober Rayevsky are as unique as the poems.

                                by Joan Bransfield Graham

                                my sight,
                                bend back
                                of the night.
                                Flicker, flash,
                                near and far,
                                turn on lamps,
                                & sprinkle stars.
                                One small flame,
                                a tiny spark...
                                or wide as day
                                you scatter dark.

                                Janeczko, Paul B. 2007. Hey, you!: Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things. Ill. by Robert Rayevskey. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 0060523476


                                Can you think of something interesting, different, or down right weird to write a poem to?

                                Try to illustrate the poem in a unique fashion, too.

                                This activity could be done in small groups.

                                POETRY BY CHILDREN—Post a Poetry BREAK with a poem of your choice written by a child


                                    Think back to your earliest memory. Is it really a memory, or is it a story about you when you were very young? This poem is a girl's memory of time spent with her Dad when she was a toddler! Whether she is really remembering what happened, or is reliving the story she's heard before, the poem is full of love and happiness!

                                    You . . . and Your Dad
                                    by Katie Ferman, age 11,
                                    Three Lakes, Wisconsin

                                    Traveling the interstate routes
                                    With no sense of direction
                                    Following no road map
                                    Traveling only by the lay of the land
                                    Going on only because
                                    Of the love of the land

                                    You and your dad

                                    You, a curly-haired toddler
                                    Without even the knowledge
                                    To put the right shoes on the right feet
                                    Listening to Willie Nelson in a trance

                                    Your dad

                                    Feeling the love, but not really understanding it
                                    Your bottle in one hand
                                    The other, clutching the seat belt
                                    Anticipating the next fork in the road

                                    You, a rosy-cheeked kid

                                    Not knowing anything but
                                    Willie Nelson’s voice and
                                    The indescribable landscape
                                    Not knowing
                                    That later on in life you wish you would be able to relive
                                    That single moment
                                    A thousand times
                                    Only the hazy memory
                                    Sticking to you like the apple juice leaking from the bottle
                                    Stuck to your lively little fingers at one time

                                    You and your dad

                                    On the interstate routes.

                              From the May/June 2004 issue of Stone Soup. Accessed April 23, 2009.


                              Play some Willie Nelson music in the background while reading this poem.

                              Ask the children to share and/or describe their earliest memories, including who is present in the memory. Use as many senses as possible. Use as many details as possible.

                              Friday, April 10, 2009

                              Module 5

                              POETRY BREAK: REFRAIN-- A poem with a refrain or chorus (and indicate refrain)


                              It is springtime. Flowers are sprouting, trees are budding and the green grass is growing all around, all around. The children will enjoy chiming in as you read this old favorite folk poem.

                              And the Green Grass Grew All Around

                              In the woods there was a hole,
                              The prettiest hole you ever did see,
                              Oh, a hole in the woods, a hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And in that hole there was a root,
                              Oh, prettiest root you ever did see,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And on that root there was a tree,
                              Oh, prettiest tree you ever did see,
                              Tree on the root,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And on that tree there was a branch,
                              Oh, prettiest branch you ever did see,
                              Branch on tree,
                              Tree on root,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And on that branch there was a nest,
                              Oh, prettiest nest you ever did see.
                              Nest on the branch,
                              Branch on the tree,
                              Tree on the root,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And in that nest there was an egg,
                              Oh prettiest egg you ever did see,
                              Egg in the nest,
                              Nest on the branch,
                              Branch on the tree,
                              Tree on the root,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              And in that egg there was a bird,
                              Oh,the prettiest bird you ever did see,
                              Bird in the egg,
                              Egg in the nest,
                              Nest on the branch,
                              Branch on the tree,
                              Tree on the root,
                              Root in the hole,
                              Hole in the ground,

                              And the green grass grew all around,
                              All Around
                              And the green grass grew all around.

                              from And the Green Grass Grew All Around; Folk Poetry from Everyone by Alvin Schwartz, illustrated by Sue Truesdell. Harper Collins. 1992.


                              If internet access and a way to project is in the classroom or library, play the following clip for the children. It sets the poem to music, has colorful animated graphics, and provides text for the children to follow and sing along.



                              POETRY BOOK REVIEW: NEW BOOK-- A new, favorite book of poetry for children or teens published in or since 2005 (a new favorite of YOURS)

                              Keepers; Treasure-Hunt Poems by John Frank, Photographs by Ken Robbins. Roaring Book Press. 2008


                              Do you collect things? Do you like to hunt for treasures? Then you will love this book of poems. Take some time to look at the photographs in the book, then select a poem to read.

                              Music Box

                              I twist the box's windup key,
                              and when I raise the top, I see,
                              below a plate of beveled glass,
                              a turning cylinder of brass
                              with tiny pins that seem to know,
                              like fingers trained, which of the row
                              of notes to play - which teeth within
                              the metal comb to plink. Each pin
                              awaits its turn so patiently
                              to help create the melody.


                              Bring a real music box to show the children. Let them examine the parts, listen to the music, and identify the song it plays.

                              Ask the children to talk about some of their own treasures or prized possessions and ask how they found them or came by them. Have them write about them.

                              Invite the children to talk about and/or bring their own treasurers or collections to share. Let them write poems about them.

                              Hide some "treasures" and let the children hunt for them in the library or classroom.


                              POETRY CHOICE: NEWER BOOK-Post a Poetry BREAK with a poem of your choice published in 2008/2009


                              With warm weather comes the urge to kick off your shoes, take off your socks and bury your feet in the mud. You can almost feel the sun on your face and the earth beneath your feet as you listen to this poem.

                              Stefi Weisburd

                              I plant myself
                              in flower pose.
                              In fragrant earth
                              I burrow toes.
                              My face tastes sun
                              and brims with light.
                              Arms entwine
                              the trellis tight.
                              Fingers sprout,
                              elbows thorn.
                              Look at me!
                              A rose is born.

                              from Barefoot, Poems for Naked Feet by Stefi Weisburd; illustrated by Lori McElrath-Eslick. Wordsong. 2008


                              Read the poem through a couple of times. Encourage the children to act out the poem, planting themselves like flowers, facea tasting sun, arms entwine, fingers sprout, elbows thorn.

                              The person in the poem likens himself to a rose. Ask children what kind of flower they would be if they were growing in a garden. What color would they be?

                              Let the children draw flower pictures or make collages using pictures of flowers from magazines or catalogs, perhaps working together to create a garden mural.

                              Plant seeds or flowers and watch them grow.

                              Let the children take their shoes and socks off while they read, write or work at their desks.

                              Be sure to cite the title, poet, poetry book (with publisher and year) for each poem. Be sure to include an introduction and extension for each poetry break as well. Be sure to cite the poet, book title, illustrator, publisher and year for each poetry book reviewed.

                              Saturday, February 21, 2009

                              Module 4

                              POETRY BREAK: SPRING-- A poem about the season of spring, spring holidays or spring events


                              Rain, rain, go away? No way! Read this poem to children who can't go out to play and their frustration might just turn into inspiration!

                              April Spring Rain

                              by Langston Hughes

                              Let the rain kiss you,
                              Let the rain beat upon
                              your head with
                              silver liquid drops.
                              Let the rain sing you a

                              The rain makes still
                              pools on the sidewalk.
                              The rain makes running
                              pools in the gutter.
                              The rain plays a little
                              sleep-song on our roof at

                              And I love the rain.

                              From The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry, edited by Bill Martin Jr. with Michael Sampson. Simon & Schuster. 2008


                              Read this poem on a rainy day and take some time to quietly listen to the rain.

                              Read this poem as a companion to Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and talk about how the characters in the book long for rain to relieve the drought they are experiencing.

                              Read the poem on the first day of April and discuss weather patterns.

                              Read other poems about rain (Rain, rain go away; April showers bring May flowers, the Itsy Bitsy Spider)

                              Make rain noises with bodies only. Rub hands together, snap fingers, clap hands, slide/stomp feet. Start soft and slow. Go faster and faster,and harder and harder, just like a real rain storm. Act out a rain storm, complete with "claps" of thunder, flashes of lightning (turning lights off and on), out came the sun, and so on.

                              Make a rainstick. Use rice or beans and paper towel rollers, or be creative with other materials on hand. Decorate them, use them in the dramatic play. Talk about how authentic rainsticks are made. According to rainsticks were invented in Chile, are made from cactus and were believed to produce rainstorms when played. For more information, pictures, and even a sound clip, go to What an exciting way to tie into a unit on Chile or weather!

                              POETRY BOOK REVIEW: CURRICULUM CONNECTION-- A book of poetry for children or teens ideally suited to science, math, or social studies instruction and published since 1995

                              The Brothers' War, Civil War Voices in Verse
                              By J. Patrick Lewis
                              National Geographic, 2007
                              ISBN 978-1-4263-0037-0


                              This book for middle and high school students, describes the Civil War in poems written by J. Patrick Lewis from the point of view of soldiers, family members, slaves, abolitionists, and generals. Lewis writes each poem in a different format. Each poem is paired with poignant photographs from the war and historical notes. In the author's notes at the end of the book, Lewis explains his writing choices. Also included at the end of the book is a helpful timeline of Civil War events, and a map of the United States with major battles marked. The Civil War took the lives of thousands of Americans, including brothers and family members who joined opposite sides and fought against each other, as illustrated in the following poem from the book.

                              Blood of Our Fathers,
                              Blood of Our Sons
                              The First Battle of Bull Run
                              July 21, 1861

                              Five thousand fell that day by Sudley Road,
                              Five thousand left their mothers in despair.
                              A world gone red-the Bull Run overflowed
                              With blood, raining in the violent air.
                              On widow Henry's fallow fields, I saw
                              A boy about my age fall where he stood,
                              Face down, writhing, clutching at mud and straw,
                              As if God's earth could do him any good.
                              By what outrageous powers of circumstance
                              Do men take arms against their very own?
                              The Yankee sergeant's bullet snapped the bone.
                              Roy Pugh, his Rebel son, had little chance.
                              Distraught, the sergeant rolled him on his side.
                              Roy whispered, "Father...Why?" before he died.


                              Use the timeline at the end of the book to select poems to correspond with the study and discussions of Civil War battles.

                              Discuss the connection between the photographs, poems and events of the war.

                              The author encourages readers "to try your own hand at a poem written from a point of view not your own...Try telling the same story from another point of view. Every event can be seen through multiple prisms".


                              POETRY CHOICE: BIOGRAPHICAL POETRY—Post a Poetry BREAK with a biographical poem of your choice OR a Poetry BOOK REVIEW on a biographical poetry book of your choice


                              Cesar Chavez was a Mexican American who helped organize the National Farm Worker Association which later became the United Farm Workers Union. He led the movement to bring about better working conditions and quality of life for the people who harvest this country's food. Read the following poem to start the discussion of this heroic man's life.


                              by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

                              Cesario was his real name.
                              Not See-zar. Not even Cesar.

                              Cesario Estrada Chavez
                              was the name given to him
                              by his parents,
                              Juana Estrada
                              Librado Chavez
                              en el dia de su santo,
                              March 31, 1927,
                              near Yuma, Arizona.

                              named for his abuelito,
                              better known as Papa Chayo.

                              Calling him See-zar Cha-VEZ
                              came later,
                              when his teacher couldn't
                              or wouldn't
                              call him Cesario.

                              People called him
                              See-zar Cha-VEZ
                              or Cesar Chavez.
                              It was better to call him
                              Friend of the Farm Workers,
                              for those were la gente
                              for whom he struggled.
                              From Cesar, Si, Se Puede! Yes We Can; written by Carment T. Berneier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz. Marchall Cavendish, 2004.


                              Translate the Spanish words in italics to English using the glossary in the back of the book.

                              If possible, translate and read the entire poem in Spanish.

                              Talk about why the teacher would not call Chavez by his given name. Discuss how it would feel to not be called by one's name, especially by a teacher.

                              Read the rest of the book to learn more about Cesar Chavez, migrant farm workers, and the United Farmers Union.

                              Module 3

                              POETRY BREAK: UNUSUAL FORM

                              Introduction: This poem is written in concrete form:

                              Two in Bed
                              by Abram Bunn Ross

                              When my brother Tommy
                              Sleeps in bed with me,
                              He doubles up
                              And makes

                              And 'cause the bed is not so wide,
                              A part of him is on my side.

                              from Poetry Speaks to Children Edited by Elise Paschen, Dominique Raccah and Nikki Giovanni
                              Illustrators: Wendy Rasmussen, Judy Love and Paula Zinngrage Wendland
                              Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2005

                              Extensions: Discuss the shape of the poem. Some questions to consider: Why did the writer arrange the lines of the poem in the v-shape? Did this add interest to the poem? Do you still like the poem even though it doesn't rhyme? Have you ever slept with someone who got on your side of the bed? Do you share a bed or your room with a sibling or someone else? Has anyone ever done anything that got in your "space"? If so, what did you do? Point out that sometimes it helps to write about frustrating things. Challenge the children to think and write about a time when someone did something annoying to them. In discussing the shape of the poem, it might be fun to act out the poem to illustrate how uncomfortable it would be to have someone doubled up in the shape of a V right next to them in bed. Maybe the children would enjoy making the shapes of other letters with their bodies. The children could pick a letter or shape and try to write a poem in that shape. Look through other poetry books to find concrete poems.


                              POETRY BOOK REVIEW: VERSE NOVEL

                              Your Own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath
                              by Stephanie Hemphill
                              Random House 2007

                              Introduction: This book is written by a poet about a poet. It is a collection of poems written in a variety of styles, from the point of view of people who knew the writer Sylvia Plath. Much has been written about Sylvia Plath, who lived from 1932-1963. Stephanie Hemphill, who wrote Your Own Sylvia, studied these writings and the works of Plath in her research for this fictional book based on truth. The result is an emotional story about a talented and tormented writer, that introduces the reader to the writings of Sylvia Plath and her short life. Readers will be hungry for more of Plath's and Hemphill's work after reading Your Own Sylvia.

                              Extensions: Sylvia Plath took her own life at the age of 30. After reading Your Own Sylvia, discuss the following social issues included in the book and relavent to Plath's life: suicide, depression, women's roles in society, dysfunctional families, relationships with parents, sexuality.

                              Discuss the different forms of poetry included in the book. For example, the poem Dysfunction (p. 223) is written in haiku. It starts out:

                              Hysterical at
                              my doorstep, no coats on the
                              children. No clothes, no

                              She melts, hands
                              me little Nick, will I help
                              her, watch them, she's sick,...

                              (p. 82) describes Plath from the point of view of a former teacher who visits her after she is hospitalized for depression. Each line begins with a different letter of the alphabet, beginning with a, b, c, and so on.

                              Absent as a
                              bear in deep winter, her mind
                              can't connect, her memory appears
                              dead. Her ace brain has switched off....

                              Students might enjoy experimenting with writing poetry in haiku or abecedarian style.

                              Examine interesting phrasing, especially with respect to literary ties. In Sunday Night, Monday Night, (p. 230) Sylvia's neighbor notes, with perhaps a reference to Lewis Carol's character in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

                              Whatever that Dr. Horder prescribes
                              makes her hatter mad tonight...

                              In June, 1962, Hemphill includes another literary reference, this time to Shakespeare. Sylvia's mother visits and observes:

                              Sivvy announces repeatedly
                              that happiness dances around her bed.
                              She has the perfect home, the perfect
                              children, the perfect husband.
                              But I believe she doth protest too heartily...

                              Challenge the students to find other literary references.

                              Sylvia Plath kept extensive journals. Students could be given a few minutes to write in journals each class period.

                              Encourage students to go to to learn more about Sylvia Plath; and to read more of her works including Winter Trees and Collected Poems.


                              POETRY CHOICE: POETRY THAT DOES NOT RHYME

                              Introduction: The following poem does not rhyme.

                              The Reason I like Chocolate
                              by Nikki Giovanni

                              The reason I like chocolate
                              is I can lick my fingers
                              and nobody tells me I'm not polite

                              I especially like scary movies
                              'cause I can snuggle with Mommy
                              or my big sister and they don't laugh

                              I like to cry sometimes 'cause
                              everybody says "whats's the matter
                              don't cry"

                              and I like books
                              for all those reasons
                              but mostly 'cause they just make me

                              and I really like
                              to be happy

                              from A Family of Poems by Caroline Kennedy
                              Illustrated by Jon J. Muth
                              Hyperion, 2005

                              Extensions: Get the children's reaction to the poem. Ask if they like it even though it does not rhyme. Talk about the rhythm and pauses. Divide the class into small groups and do tandem readings, either within the groups, or having each group read a stanza. Have the children point out the things the writer likes in the poem, chocolate, scary movies and so on. Let the children discuss and write down things they like and why. Have a chocolate-y snack!

                              Monday, February 16, 2009

                              Module 2

                              POETRY BREAK: NCTE AWARD POET- A poem written by an NCTE Award winning poet


                              Use the following poem for a poetry break in the classroom. Have the children quietly look outside the window and take note of the things they see outside. After a few moments, read the poem Right Outside My Window.

                              Right Outside My Window
                              by Mary Ann Hoberman

                              There's always something new to see
                              Right outside my window.
                              Each day I wonder what will be
                              Right outside my window.
                              In spring the wind whips up a kite
                              Right outside my window.
                              Silver raindrops catch the light
                              Right outside my window.
                              Clouds sail in the summer sky
                              Right outside my window.
                              A baby bird begins to fly
                              Right outside my window.
                              Falling leaves drift to the ground
                              Right outside my window.
                              A spider weaves her web around
                              Right outside my window.
                              Snowflakes tumble soft and white
                              Right outside my window.
                              The moon shines in to say goodnight
                              Right outside my window.
                              Summer, autumn, winter, spring,
                              Right outside my window.
                              What brand new changes will they bring
                              Right outside my window.

                              Right Outside My Window, by Mary Ann Hoberman; illustrated by Nicholas Wilton; Mondo Publishing, 2002.


                              After reading the poem, ask the children to share what they see outside the window. Let them discuss, write about or illustrate their observations.

                              Another approach to sharing this poem would be to invite the children to close their eyes while you read the poem. Ask them to visualize the images in the poem. After a few moments, with eyes still closed, ask children to imagine other things that they might see outside a window. Let them share if they like. Let the whole class refrain, right outside my window, after each person shares.

                              Read the poem again showing the illustrations in the book.

                              Write down the children's suggestions of what they see outside a window. Include "Right outside my window" between each line. Read the new poem aloud, allowing the children to read their own lines or letting them read each others. Encourage them to use rhyming words, and pair lines accordingly.


                              POETRY BOOK REVIEW: MULTICULTURAL-- A book of poetry for children or teens by a poet (or poets) of color published since 1995

                              The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas; illustrated by Floyd Cooper. HarperCollins, 2008.


                              The Blacker the Berry: Poems by Joyce Carol Thomas and illustrated by Floyd Cooper was given the 2009 Corretta Scott King Award for illustrations. It was also named a Coretta Scott King author honor book.

                              This collection of poems uses the metaphor of berries and their colors to celebrate the range of skin colors of african american children. The illustrations portray african american boys and girls with all shades of skin color , from the darkest eggplant, to the lightest milky.


                              Talk with children about different skin colors, hair colors, eye colors.
                              Have children draw and color self portraits with careful attention to these attributes.
                              Have berries for snack. Examine, compare and taste the difference between the different types of berries.


                              POETRY CHOICE: DOUGLAS FLORIAN

                              Comets, Stars, the Moon and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings, written and illustrated by Douglas Florian. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007

                              Book Review:

                              What a wonderful poetry collection and beautifully illustrated book about space and the planets! There is a poem about each planet, plus interesting facts and colorful illustrations. The mixed media illustrations are whimsically done in bold watercolors and collage. Flipping through the pages gives the reader the feeling of floating in the night sky, through galaxies, past stars, and around planets. Unexpected pleasures are circular cut-outs on some pages and a galactic glossary at the end of the book.

                              Poetry Break


                              Use this book with children who are studying space and the solar system.


                              Begin by reading the The Universe.

                              The Universe

                              by Douglass Florian

                              The universe is every place,
                              Including all the e m p t y space.
                              It's every star and galaxy,
                              All objects of astronomy,
                              Geography, zoology
                              (Each cat and dog and bumblebee),
                              All persons throughout history-
                              Including you,
                              Including me.

                              Read a poem about each planet as it is studied.
                              Have each student choose a planet poem to read, study and illustrate.
                              Discuss the Galactic Glossary in the back of the book.
                              Examine the art in the book, identifying elements in the collages.
                              Make a solar system collage as a group project.

                              Friday, February 6, 2009

                              Module 1

                              POETRY BREAK: SCHOOL/LIBRARY/BOOKS-- A poem about school, the library or books and reading


                              Read this poem to children before they visit the library.

                              Please Bury Me in the Library

                              By J. Patrick Lewis

                              Please bury me in the library

                              In the clean, well-lighted stacks

                              Of Novels, History, Poetry,

                              Right next to the Paperbacks,

                              Where the Kids' Books dance

                              With True Romance

                              And the Dictionary dozes.

                              Please bury me in the library

                              With a dozen long-stemmed proses.

                              Way back by a rack of Magazines,

                              I won't be sad too often,

                              If they bury me in the library

                              With Bookworms in my coffin.

                              Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. PLEASE BURY ME IN THE LIBRARY. illus. by Kyle M. Stone. New York, NY: Harcourt, Inc. ISBN 0152163875.


                              Give the children a checklist and send them on a scavenger hunt in the library looking for the following items mentioned in the poem: novels, history, poetry, paperbacks, kids' books, romance books, dictionaries, prose, magazines.

                              Talk about new words and what they mean: stacks, dozes, proses, bookworms, coffin.

                              Point out the rhyming words: stacks/paperbacks; dance/romance; and so on.

                              Choose a favorite activity and try to think of rhyming words about that activity.

                              Write a poem about a favorite activity.


                              POETRY BOOK REVIEW: HOPKINS ANTHOLOGY-- A poetry collection compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins

                              Hopkins, Lee Bennett.1983. THE SKY IS FULL OF SONG. illus. by Dirk Zimmer. HarperCollins. ISBN 0060225823.


                              This small book is a collection of poems about the seasons. It is colorfully illustrated with linocuts by Dirk Zimmer.


                              The poems would be a great addition to a storytime or lesson about weather, the seasons, or holidays included in the collection. Read a poem to correspond with the beginning of a new month. Invite the children to write about the weather or the changing seasons. Children will enjoy examining the artwork in the book and experimenting with the process of printmaking or stamping. According to Wikapedia, "linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum (sometimes mounted on a wooden block) is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife."

                              POETRY CHOICE: AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY— Poetry BREAK


                              February is Black History Month. It can be a challenge to celebrate with young children who cannot grasp the concepts of slavery, equality, and the contributions of African American inventors and leaders. They can, however, appreciate the unique characteristics and culture of African heritage. CHERISH ME is a charming book based on the poem by Joyce Carol Thomas that will appeal to all people, regardless of age or skin color.

                              Thomas, Joyce Carol. 1998. CHERISH ME. Ill. by Nneka Bennett. New York, NY: HarperFestival . ISBN 0694010979


                              This book will work well with any age group, but will especially appeal to very young children. The poem is simple and elegant. The words and images are familiar to very young children, yet interesting and meaningful to older listeners. Each line is depicted on a two page spread with pictures of a beautiful and energetic young African American girl. The illustrations are big, bright, and bold enough to share with a group. The poem is repeated at the end of the book on one page, lending itself to a second reading of the poem, alone without the pictures.

                              After reading the book and poem, discuss the background of Joyce Carol Thomas. Read the class the following excerpt from The University of Tennessee Website where Thomas currently teaches.

                              "Joyce Carol Thomas was born into a large family of migrant cotton pickers in 1938. The fifth of nine children, she spent much of her childhood working in the fields alongside her parents and siblings. She was born and educated in Ponca City, Oklahoma, although during the picking season she traveled with her family to many of the surrounding areas, staying in the homes of friends, relatives, or fellow workers. She usually missed the beginning of the school year to work in the cotton fields. Although her family was not well-off, and had little leisure time, Thomas grew up among the stories her friends and family told to lighten the long workdays. This exposure primed her to enjoy reading, and by the age of ten she was an avid reader."

                              Accessed from the University of Tennessee Website, February 6, 2009


                              This brief biography of Joyce Carol Thomas will inspire rich discussion, including:

                              1) how Thomas's background might have influenced the imagery she uses in the poem.

                              2) how Thomas's interest in reading and her education affected her life, particularly her professional accomplishments.

                              3) the definition of migrant workers, and what life must have been like for Thomas and her family.

                              Joyce Carol Thomas writes poetry and books for children, young adults and adults. She has won many awards for her writing. Her book, THE BLACKER THE BERRY, was a 2009 Coretta Scott King honor book. Choose this or any one of her works to read and discuss after introducing students to this prolific author and her work with her poem, Cherish Me.

                              Cherish Me

                              By Joyce Carol Thomas

                              I sprang up from mother earth

                              She clothed me in her own colors

                              I was nourished by father sun

                              He glazed the pottery of my skin

                              I am beautiful by design

                              The pattern of night in my hair

                              The pattern of music in my rhthym

                              As you would cherish a thing of beauty

                              Cherish me