Tag Archives: Poetry

A World of Wonders, Poetry for the Summer Reading Program

As I’m planning and promoting our Summer Reading Program activities, I’m also trying to read books on the theme “One World, Many Stories” both to use in the programs and to suggest to kids who want something to read on the topic. One of the weekly themes is on travel and exploration, and for that week I found an awesome collection of poems called A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated beautifully by Alison Jay that I hope to share with the kids.

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme The book has verses about different travellers, different locations, geographic concepts, and even some riddles.

One of my favorite, poems is about all the place names that have changed. Probably because it reminds me of the Might Be Giants song.

New Names, Old Places

Sri Lanka used to be Ceylon.
Ancient Persia? Now Iran.

Ziare was Congo way back when.
Now it’s Congo once again.

China? Can you guess? Cathay.
That’s what people used to say.

Thailand once was known as Siam.
Gold Coast turned to Ghana. I am

Always interested in telling
How a country changed its spelling

Dutch East Indies? Indonesia!
Once Zimbabwe was Rhodesia.

Burma changed to Myanmar.
Russia, once USSR…

And so it can be stuck in your head too, here it is:

You’re welcome.


Rainy Spring

It has been a wet spring here, and I went looking for some poetry that could give me that rainy feel. Here is an Emily Dickinson poem on rain. I can hear it coming down even as I type!

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I new ’twas Wind —
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand —
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road —
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad —
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.

Earth Day Every Day

Today is Earth Day, and library system wide we are celebrating it with programs and giving away ladybugs. It is also Friday, which is never a day I’d normally schedule a program. We are short staffed and it is busy enough after school. The hectic nature of this day reminds me of how silly it is to give the whole world one day, we can’t fit everything in one day, rather we should strive to be more aware all year long of our interdependence upon the earth and the impact of our actions. So we stretch our awareness of the earth through the years and through time. So my earth day poem is a little from the past to celebrate the present and the future.

Spring by Anacreon

See the Spring herself discloses,
And the Graces gather roses;
See how the becalmed seas
Now their swelling waves appease;
How the duck swims, how the crane
Comes from winter home again;
See how Titan’s cheerful ray
Chaseth the dark clouds away;
Now in their new robes of green
Are the plowman’s labors seen:
Now the lusty teeming Earth
Springs each hour with a new birth;
Now the olive blooms: the vine
Now doth with plump pendants shine;
And with leaves and blossoms now
Freshly bourgeons every bough.

c 572-488 B.C.E., Trans. Thomas Stanley, 1651, found in the Poetry Archive.

So as “the lusty teeming Earth/ Springs each hour with a new birth” let us try to do our best to protect the resources we have so that the children a further two thousand years from now can look on the same bounteous land.

Poetry Friday is hosted by Book Aunt this week, head on over to check out some other great poems!

Poetry Day

April is national poetry month and I decided to highlight poetry for the second graders who regularly come to visit. We read different types of poems, from silly to serious, talked about some great poets, and wrote some verse together. I found a Shel Silverstein activity kit in my office, so I incorporated some of those ideas.

I started by reading Casey at the Bat, Ernest L Thayer, ills C.E. Payne. Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888
For these types of events, I like to start by getting the kids to talk and finding out what they already know. So I asked them a series of questions, or enough questions to open up the kids. So what do you think we are going to talk about? Baseball? History? No Poetry! What can you tell me about poetry? Turns out they knew quite a bit about poetry!

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
From that I read them some samples of different types of poetry, first: “The Ballad of the Wandering Eft,” from Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, Joyce Sidman. After which we talked about what you could learn from that poem.

Falling Up “Hypnotized” from Falling Up, Shel Silverstein. A good example of a silly poem (and one we used later on for poetry mad libs. The kids pretended they were hypnotized when I read it to them)

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways “Eye to Eye” from African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways, Avis Harley. Both informational, and a fun introduction to a new poetry form. I read another poem to give the kids an idea of how it works, they understood the concept when we actually wrote the poem.

The last poem transitioned us into our first activity: writing an Acrostic Poem for Library.

Here is our completed poem:
L Lots of fun,
I It’s a place to check out books;
B Books have lots of words, and are
R Roaring Good,
A Awesome!
R Read to succeed,
Y Yummy Books!

After we wrote our first poem, I read some more poetry:

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse “Longing for Beauty” from Mirror Mirror, Marilyn Singer. Reversable verse is a new kind of poetry, and I ended up reading another poem to fully convey how the poetry worked. I think the teachers were more interested in how it worked then the students.

Love That Dog I ended with book talking Love That Dog, Sharon Creech. A novel in verse about verse; what could be better? Well it is written so that kids this age could understand it.

We finished up with Poetry MadLibs, from the Shel Silverstein activity kit:
How would you like to get hypnotized? (Verb)__________ deep, deep into my (plural noun) _____________. Now you’re getting (adjective)___________, falling deep, deep, deep—asleep, And I have you in my power. (Verb)_______ the (noun)__________ for half an hour. Shine my shoes, (verb)________ my hair, Wash out all my (noun)____________. Do my homework, scratch my (noun)_______, Cook me up a great (adjective)___________ stack of (plural noun)_____________, and go wash my (noun) _________ . Get some (plural noun) _________ and fix the gate. Now wake up and (verb)________ your eyes. Wasn’t it (adjective)__________ to be hypnotized?

Here is our completed Mad Lib
How would you like to get hypnotized? Run deep, deep into my dogs. Now you’re getting fat, falling deep, deep, deep—asleep, And I have you in my power. Jog the knife for half an hour. Shine my shoes, play video games in my hair, Wash out all my McDonalds. Do my homework, scratch my Isabella, Cook me up a great big stack of libraries, and go wash my astronauts. Get some women and fix the gate. Now wake up and cartwheel your eyes. Wasn’t it brown to be hypnotized?

Poetry Appreciation

Poetry is hard.

I love it, I really do, but it is not as easy as it seems
to write,
to read,
to understand.

Like my love of picture books, it comes with a greater appreciation for
the importance of each word,
the weight of whitespace,
the rhythm and the rhyme.

Whenever I think, oh I can do that, I’ll see
a book that doesn’t quite work,
a rhyme that falls on its face,
a type face ridiculously out of place.

So how, can I tell kids
poetry is for them,
there isn’t a wrong way,
ANYONE can do it,

if I’m not sure of my own skill?

Ok, so I was going to write a post about getting kids to write poetry, but then it sort of became a poem. I was feeling inspired by reading Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog last week. So here is my contribution. A poem on my frustration over poetry. Poetry Friday is hosted at Madigan Reads today, head on over to check out the other great poems!

Love These Dogs

Love That Dog Recently I read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech, which did make me cry right there in my office on my lunch break. Not to spoil the ending or anything but something bad may or may not have happened to Jack’s dog. It is a powerful and simple book, and a perfect reminder of the way a few words can communicate so much more clearly sometimes then a rush of words. That is something I forget, when I can type, type, type to try to be clear, when more words just muddle things up.

So here is my poem, inspired by Sharon Creech, who was inspired by Walter Dean Myers

Love These Dogs

Love these  dogs like a bear loves  honey
I said I love these dogs
like a bear loves honey
Love to come home in the evening
love to come home
to see them dance so funny

Ok, so it isn’t great. But it is also my first poem since grade school. Plus it is true, and my dogs really do a crazy dance when I come in at night.
If you love poetry I recommend you read Walter Dean Myers’ hauntingly beautiful original poem, or the lovely story of Jack and his dog by Sharon Creech.

Poetry Friday is hosted at The Poem Farm today, stop by and check out all the other awesome poems!

The Duck and the Kangaroo

A little Edward Lear nonsense for a day when the weather is rainy/snowy and very silly for the end of March. Full poem at


photo courtesy of semuthutan

Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
‘Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop!
My life is a bore in this nasty pond,
And I long to go out in the world beyond!
I wish I could hop like you!’
Said the duck to the Kangaroo.

‘Please give me a ride on your back!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.
‘I would sit quite still, and say nothing but “Quack,”
The whole of the long day through!
And we’d go to the Dee, and the Jelly Bo Lee,
Over the land and over the sea;–
Please take me a ride! O do!’
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo.

Said the Kangaroo,’I’m ready!
All in the moonlight pale;
But to balance me well, dear Duck, sit steady!
And quite at the end of my tail!’
So away they went with a hop and a bound,
And they hopped the whole world three times round;
And who so happy, — O who,
As the duck and the Kangaroo?

The Duck and the Kangaroo

The Snack Smasher and Other Reasons Why it’s Not my Fault

Illustrated poetry books for kids are one of my favorite things. They don’t always circulate a lot here, because they are tucked back in the far reaches of the non-fiction with dusty volumes of the greatest works of Western Authors. Every so often I pull them all out and put them on a table at the front of the children’s room and watch them fly off the display. I find that the books dedicated to one poem, like All the World, by Liz Scanlon, are nearly interchangeable with the picture books that are so popular here. But many of my favorites are the humorous poem collections that could best be enjoyed by older kids. I’m hoping to include some of these gems on future book talks. Here is one of my favorites: The Snack Smasher and Other Reasons Why it’s Not my Fault, by Andrea Perry and illustrated by Alan Snow.

The Snack Smasher: And Other Reasons Why It's Not My Fault This zany collection of poems about the creatures that make things go wrong is perfect for the school age kid who knows that there is a reason that lids are lost and hair is disproportionatly messy the next morning. I particularly like “The Locker Destroyer,” whose sibling the office clutterer visits me nightly. Here is a sample:

The Locker Destroyer by Andrea Perry, photo by Pylon757

In every school building
there lurks an annoyer
more commonly known as
the Locker Destroyer.

She watches with rapture
as pupils deposit
their backpack belongings
in each metal closet.

Then once they’ve departed
and left her alone,
she wreaks the destruction
for which she is known.

Not one single item
is left in its place,
not even an oboe
or clarinet case!

All students be cautious!
You may need protection
when lockers are opened
for teacher inspection!

Poetry Friday is hosted today at A Wrung Sponge