creating book spine poetry

The fire within
My father’s dragon
Totally irresponsible science
Let’s pretend this never happened

Poetry speaks to the soul. It’s job is to create images, feelings, meaning in an otherwise meaningless world. And for kids, the best part is that you don’t even have to write in complete sentences. How great is that?

But behind the silliness of this introduction lies a serious truth: Poetry is a powerful tool for both expression and learning. It requires kids to be resourceful, creative, clever and engage in some pretty fancy verbal calisthenics.

For this Adventure in Learning, kids are going to use found words to create their very own Book Spine Poetry.

But first, a little background…

The Birth of Book Spine Poetry

Book Spine Poetry is an internet meme that goes back to the work of artist Nina Katchadourian. In the early 1990s, she took photographs of stacked book titles that, when read together, created short sentences and stories.

More than decade later, the internet was in full swing and Katchadourian’s work inspired a viral revolution with its own hashtag, #bookspinepoetry. The meme is still going strong after more than five years. That’s an internet legacy.

The Set Up

The set up for this is straightforward. All you need is a stack of books from around the house or your local library.

book spine poetry activity for kids

Have the kids read through the titles.

Encourage them to stack a few books on top of each other. Have them play around with the titles to create a short poem; words that create an image, feeling or scene.

Some kids may take this project and run with it. Others may need a bit of encouragement to get started. For kids who need a little nudge, it might help them to approach this activity as a puzzle. Can they stack titles that build a sentence? How about a phrase? How about just two books that sound funny together?

creating book spine poetry with kids

The girl who could fly
Around the world in 80 days
Don’t forget to write

After they’ve created something they’re happy with, have the kids record their work for posterity. They can write it down in a journal, or snap a photo, just like artist Nina Katchadourian did! If you do take a picture, share it on our PBS Parents facebook page or tweet it to us. We’d love to see your works of literary art!

More Adventures in Learning

Cut and Paste Sight Words
[Video] Writer’s Club: It’s Play Time
27 Beloved Rhyming Books for Kids

About Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind Classic-Play.com, an online resource for creative families.  Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children. 

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