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Pam: April 2010 Archives

Pam

Thursday Three: Poetry

Posted by Pam on April 29, 2010 at 5:46 PM in
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As we wrap up National Poetry Month, let's talk about bringing more poetry into your child's life.

1. Read It: Next time you're at the library, take a turn into the poetry section. Most likely you'll find it under Dewey's famous decimal system at either 811 (for single author) or 808 (for collections). While poetry books may have been limited when we were growing up, the choices now are amazing. There are collections about cats, oceans, sports, friends, apologies, and world records. You'll also find styles and forms just as varied, along with a broad illustrative range. It's a new day in children's poetry from what you might remember as a somewhat stale past. Take a chance and bring some home for your nightly reading time.

2. Write It: Inspired by the poems you read, try your hand at writing a few. Don't worry about perfection or natural talent. Simply have fun with words. With your child, play with rhythm and rhyme to make up some silly poems. If they don't really make sense, maybe they'll make you laugh. I amused my three year old niece with a quick ditty about a little black dog that was running down the street, with a baseball cap on top of his head and sneakers on his feet. From there, we could have looked at the rhyming word family of "feet" (note: Learning Alert), or come up with a new story. (As it was, we turned into Applebees.) Another easy form to investigate is the haiku with its three line, 5-7-5 syllables format. It's surprising how many lovely turns of phrase can be changed slightly to fit the form. Or:

Changed slightly to fit,
Many lovely turns of phrase
become the haiku.

And I didn't even try there to get the original sentence to work. So think what could be done with your child's observations about clouds, spiders, or crayons.

3. Find It: Once you start to look, you'll find poetry all around. Song lyrics come through more clearly as poetry. (Well, some at least. I wouldn't suggest the works of Lady Gaga as being rich in material.) Picture books can be poetic, even when they're aren't categorized as poetry. Phrases you hear on the playground or words you see at the store, fragments of lists or sentences of novels can spark your imagination. You could tuck those pieces away for a future poetry venture, or acknowledge them in the moment and let them go. But truly, allow yourself and your child to recognize the magical and musical quality of words, because that is poetry.

Pam

Thursday Three: Poem Picture Books

Posted by Pam on April 22, 2010 at 8:17 AM in Picture BooksPoetryRecommendations
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For National Poetry Month, I've given you poetry links, collections, and picture books. Today I have a set of books where one poem is made into a picture book. Enjoy.

Me I Am!
by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Christine Davenier

Me I Am!I know, another Prelutsky book that seem different from the style that I attribute to him. I may need to give the man more credit. For this book, I love the way this poem expresses the uniqueness of each person and celebrates our individuality. It's like a personal anthem. "I am the only ME I AM, who qualifies as me; no ME I AM has been before, and none will ever be."The poem carried through the pages is lovely, but the artist, Christine Davenier, has taken it another step into a celebration of childhood. Each two-page spread is a story in itself, told in the pictures. Over two pages, we see a girl trying on a frilly dress, rejecting it, putting on play clothes, skating away, falling, and getting up again happy. There is another story for a little boy, and then another little girl, and then in the end they all come together. So much more is going on in this book than the words, and it's all good.

All the World
by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

All the WorldThe poetic text is simple - "Rock, stone, pebble, sand; body, shoulder arm, hand; A moat to dig a shell to keep, All the world is wide and deep." The book takes a multicultural family through a day that focuses on their connection with each other, with friends and neighbors, and the world around them. There are beaches and parks, gardens and restaurants, the big outdoors and the cozy space of home. The sentiment is lovely and is made more so by the detailed illustrations and breathtaking panoramas. This title encourages repeat readings to expand on the stories contained in the pictures, and the beauty contained in the message.

The Moon
by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson

The MoonRobert Stevenson’s poem - "The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;/She shines on thieves on the garden wall,/On streets and fields/and harbour quays" - is brought to life by illustrator Tracey Campbell Pearson. She turns this poem about the moon and the world at night into a story where a father wakes up the boy (or girl with short hair - it could go either way) and takes him out on a nighttime adventure. They say goodbye to mommy and the baby, but take the dog and cat along. They drive through the country to a dock, get on a boat, and go on a nighttime ride. You can imagine what a treat this would be for an older sibling to have a special trip with daddy after bedtime. Pearson has made each picture such a feast for the eyes, with incredible attention to detail and to the mood. A fantastic book that may inspire your own nighttime adventure.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Pam

Thursday Three: Poetry Picture Books

Posted by Pam on April 15, 2010 at 9:33 AM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Last week I had some great poetry collections, and this week I have some great poetry picture books. If you have some favorites, share them in the comments.

If Not for the Cat
by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Ted Rand

If Not for the CatThe title begs to be finished, so here is the poem of the mouse:
"If not for the cat, And the scarcity of cheese, I could be content." Every time I reference this book, I have to double-check that the poet is indeed Prelutsky because it doesn't fit with the sillier style I've come to associate with him. But yes, it's him crafting these perfect poems about seventeen different animals. The poems are accessible for children, but take some thought too - along with offering some challenging, evocative words. The illustrations are beautiful, with a great use of detail and color to support the haiku. Purists will note that it isn't true haiku as they don't all feature the requisite seventeen syllables, but I don't feel the need to split hairs with someone who thinks to describe jellyfish movement as "gelatinously." Brilliant stuff, this.


Speak To Me (And I Will LIsten Between The Lines)
by Karen English, illustrated by Amy Bates

Speak To Me (And I Will LIsten Between The Lines)I loved this book when I first saw it a few years ago, and it sticks with me. I don’t know that I can verify that it captures the feel of an urban school - though it sure seems that way - but I do know that it really captures the feeling of third graders. Feeling pride in an eighth birthday. Worrying about losing a best friend to another girl in the class. Daydreaming. Saving a seat at lunch. Each poem is told from the point of the view of one of the kids in the class, most of whom are African-American. The illustrations capture the feel of the kids and the poems in every nuance of expression. A perfect classroom book, for sure, but also a wonderful book to share at home.

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors
by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Red Sings from TreetopsWhat can I say about this book but lovely, lovely, lovely, lovely and oh yes, lovely. And that’s from someone who doesn’t care much for poetry as a rule. After checking out a library copy based on the book’s Caldecott silver medal and Cybils win, I had to buy my own copy. (Which I did through the Cybils site, because every book that you buy there gives a little bit back to that award.) Taking us through all the seasons in colors, these short poems by Joyce Sidman pack a velvet-covered punch, while Pamela Zagarenski’s illustrations invite long-lingering looks and sighs. Truly, I want to live in the world that Zagarenski sees and sink into the descriptions of Sidman's words:

In SPRING,
Red sings
from treetops:
cheer-cheer-cheer,
each note dropping
like a cherry
into my ear.

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Pam

Thursday Three: Poetry Collections

Posted by Pam on April 8, 2010 at 10:00 AM in PoetryRecommendations
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In continuing from last week with National Poetry Month , I'm sharing three poetry collections for kids of all ages. It's possible - and I'm not tossing out blame here - that you've thought of the poetry progression as Mother Goose, Shel Silverstein, and whatever they hand out in middle school. That's okay, because I was once like you. But now you can start your foray into poetry with these incredible collections.

A Kick In the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Foms
Selected by Paul Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka

A Kick In the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic FomsWhether it's starting small with an Odgen Nash couplet and moving on through to a Shakespeare sonnet, or showing a limerick where we all know the form to a pantoum where we learn something completely new, this book both serves as a collection of poems and a primer of forms. Along with a sample poem from a variety of poets, each form is explained briefly, but in a fun, entirely accessible way for the youngest readers to us poetry-deprived adults. The bright, lively, abstract illustrations of Raschka capture the different tone of the poems and lend to the lightness of the collection. You can pick up this book in paperback, so it's a ridiculously low investment for a lifetime of understanding poetic forms.


Poetry Speaks to Children
Edited by Elis Paschen and Dopminque Raccah, Illustrated by Wendy Rasmussen, Judy Love, and Paula Zinngrabe Wendland

Poetry Speaks to ChildrenThis is an amazing collection of modern and classic poems from a diverse group of poets that includes Ogden Nash, Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Roald Dahl. I love the eclectic feel where "Gas" by C.K. Williams is one page away from a poem from Macbeth and a Native American poem taken from a Osage prayer is followed by a poem by Rudyard Kipling. The book is accompanied by a CD of many of the poems read by the poets, which means that thanks to archival copies, today's children can hear readings of Robert Frost and Langston Hughes, among others. Three illustrators bring these poems to life, giving us a mix of styles, while still keeping a general consistency throughout the book. Absolutely one of of my favorite poetry books.

Side by Side: New Poems Inspired by Art from Around the World,
edited by Jan Greenberg

Side by SidePoetry and art. Multiple languages and multicultural images. Enriching and educational, this collection is masterful in its presentation. Each poem is written in the poet's native language, as well as in English, and represent a wide range in style and subject. Each page is illustrated by an iconic, related work of art, which is such a natural fit to poetry that it makes the book inspired. The overall sophistication makes this a collection for the older elementary child and on up. While it would be a pleasure to own and peruse in any home library, I have to say that it would be ideal for the classroom.


(Are you checking out the poetry sources online that I suggested? The full list is at KidLitosphere Central, but dip your feet in the poetry pool with 30 Poets/30 Days, Poetry Makers, and Poetry Books for Children.)

Links to books in this post are affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which the site MotherReader.com may receive a referral fee.

Pam

Thursday Three: Poetry Month

Posted by Pam on April 1, 2010 at 10:09 AM in KidlitsospherePoetry
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I was going to follow my own tradition and give three bunny books to read if you missed the Easter selection at your local library, but then I looked up such books in my own library's catalog and found over three hundred picture book titles. Clearly, you don't need my suggestions as you would be much better off planting yourself in front of any picture book shelf and pulling out books at random - though as a hint, you'd have an easy time in front of the Rick Walton or Rosemary Wells books.

Okay, actually I will give one suggestion. (And if you count the Walton and Wells books than we're up to three recommendations.) Beatrix Potter books. You probably have this lovely collection on your bookshelves, and may always be looking for the right time to read it. There is a lot of text for younger kids, but the stories themselves are perfect for this age, so it can be a hard book to bring out. Here's your chance.

Now, today is the first day of National Poetry Month. Don't leave. Maybe you don't see how poetry applies to you and your kid, but stay with me. I used to think of posting about poetry as the Right Thing to Do. An educational experience I should share. The broccoli of children's books. But I have come to discover in a personal way that I was wrong.

In my inexpert, parental opinion poetry can be a great choice for slower, maybe less-than-strong, readers. I missed this because I read quickly and find it hard to take the time that a poem requires. My first daughter is the same way. But with my second daughter, now almost eleven, I'm seeing where poetry can be a perfect fit for a deliberate reader. This isn't even to go into the benefits of exposing your kids to all kinds of literature or the inherent beauty or playfulness or craftmanship of language in poetry.

So today I'll point you to the KidLitosphere Celebration of Poetry Month, and break it down in to three beginner sites that you simply must visit this month.

1. Poetry for Children is reviewing a poetry book a day during the month of April and will give you some fantastic recommendations.

2. 30 Poets/30 Days will introduce you to some of the fantastic poets for kids with an original poem a day.

3. Poetry Makers offers a series of interviews with poets, starting off today with Mary Ann Hoberman, our own Children's Poet Laureate. (You didn't know we had one, did you? Learned something already.)

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