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Professor at Texas Woman's University, editor of LIBRARIANS' CHOICES, avid reader, movie lover, and zealous traveller
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1. Thankful

Time again to pause and think about the many things we are grateful for in our lives-- like this online community of poetry lovers, for example. Thank YOU for continuing to support my little blog and the field of poetry for young people all around. What a privilege it is. But I always like to balance the serious with some silliness too. So, I hope you'll indulge my sharing this nutty Thanksgiving-themed poem from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (with thanks to Brod Bagert, too). The "artistic" interpretation, however, is mine (with thanks to Matt Groening).

I'll be sharing this poem this afternoon at my NCTE presentation (with Janet Wong, Laura Purdie Salas, and Susan Marie). If I had any cheerleading experience, I think it would be a hoot to choreograph this as a cheer with the staccato motions and gestures that cheerleaders use. But, I'm just going to rely on my "Take 5" activities from the Celebrations book:

Take 5
  1. Before reading the poem aloud, ask children to close their eyes and envision a Thanksgiving gathering and meal. Then read the poem aloud with enthusiasm.
  2. Read the poem aloud again and invite children to chime in on the second line of each three-line stanza (echoing you and the first line) and then on the final word, YOU!
  3. As a group, talk about favorite Thanksgiving foods and traditions.
  4. Pair this poem with the picture book Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules (Albert Whitman, 2009) and discuss the many “right ways” to celebrate Thanksgiving.
  5. Connect this poem with “‘Break-Fast’ at Night” by Ibtisam Barakat (June, pages 180-181) and with selections from Thanksgiving Day at Our House: Thanksgiving Poems for the Very Young by Nancy White Carlstrom (Aladdin, 2002) and Holiday Stew: A Kid’s Portion of Holiday and Seasonal Poems by Jenny Whitehead (Henry Holt, 2007).
If you're looking for more holiday poems for November and December, we have a wonderful assortment to share in classrooms, libraries, and at family gatherings. Here's a select list from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations:

And don't forget to check out the rest of the Poetry Friday fun over at Miss Rumphius where Tricia has a bit of Robert Frost to share!

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2. Science + Poetry + Movement

I just presented a session at an area conference of the National Science Teachers Association in Philadelphia (along with Janet Wong) and what a great crowd we had! Plus, walking the exhibit hall I learned about Science Friday, a weekly radio program (now with podcasts and more) that's been around for 25 years. We talked with them about linking POETRY Friday with SCIENCE Friday! I'll keep you posted on how that develops. We also ran into "Ben Franklin" and shared a poem about him from one of our books-- that was a hoot. He seemed to genuinely enjoy that moment too. He even asked to have our picture taken with HIS camera! We talked about how poets are like scientists in their careful observations, focus on details, and sharing of their "findings!" And of course, we shared tons of poems (and Take 5 activities).  One of the most popular was this one (along with the Take 5 activities):

And of course we had to share this 13 second video of Jane Goodall herself making the chimp call!
Also this poem offers a perfect transition to NEXT week's presentation at the annual conference of the National Council of Teacher's of English. Next week, Janet and I shift gears at join forces with poets and authors Susan Marie Swanson (who wrote the "Jane Goodall Begins a Speech" poem above) and Laura Purdie Salas to talk about poetry and movement, "Into the Poem: Active Strategies for Engaging Kinesthetic Learning." More on that next week! Meanwhile, head on over to Wee Words for Wee Ones for the rest of the Poetry Friday fun and enjoy our closing slide from our presentation, "How is a Scientist Like a Poet: Connecting Literacy and Science."

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3. Book Links: Playing Tag with Science Poets

I just got my copy of the November issue of Book Links and I was so tickled to see that my usual poetry column was a featured article this time! Woo hoo! Thanks to the 15 poets who graciously collaborated with me to share favorite science poetry books. The title is Playing Tag with Science Poets" and these poets participated: Joyce Sidman, J. Patrick Lewis, Margarita Engle, Leslie Bulion, Jane Yolen, Marilyn Singer, Betsy Franco, Douglas Florian, Carole Gerber, Avis Harley, David L. Harrison, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Michael J. Rosen.

Here's how the article begins:
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE <![endif]--> I’ve made the case for connecting science and poetry many times in the last few years, focusing on how scientists and poets both observe the world closely and describe their observations in distinctive ways. I’ve pointed out the long poetry tradition of capturing the natural world through lyrical language. So this time I’m turning to the poets themselves. I asked 15 poets who write science-themed poetry to recommend one of their favorite recent collections of science-themed poetry by another poet. And none of them knew who was participating and which book others were choosing, so it was fun to see the tag team connections that emerged.

Poetry and science may seem at first glance to be strange companions, but they offer interesting connections for children who view all the world with wonder. They need both information and inspiration to understand what they see, hear, touch, and learn. As the great novelist Victor Hugo observed, “science is a ladder... poetry is a winged flight.” Surely we can provide both to the children we reach.

And then the poets get rolling:

Avis Harley tags J. Patrick Lewis
Avis Harley explores the natural world through collections such as Sea Stars: Saltwater Poems; The Monarch’s Progress: Poems with Wings, and African Acrostics; A Word in Edgeways, among others and she explores the natural world with a knack for crafting poems in distinctive forms, some of which she has invented herself! Here, Avis Harley salutesThe National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis: “National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is a superb collection of 200 classic and contemporary poems, each paired with a spectacular photograph illustrating the beauty, wonder, and strangeness of the animal world.  There is a section on the writing of such poems, plus valuable resources, and four indexes to guide you to a favorite animal.  Poems and photos are humorous, serious, poignant, reflective, full of surprises: a truly gorgeous addition to your poetry shelf."

J. Patrick Lewis tags Leslie Bulion
Former Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has produced many cross-curricular collections of poetry including several science-centric works like the insect poems in Face Bug: Poems as well as serving as anthologist for the two collections cited by others here. J. Patrick Lewis applauds Random Body Parts: Gross Anatomy Riddles in Verse by Leslie Bulion: “If what you’re after is a salmagundi of delightful poetry pieces, look no further than Leslie Bulion’s tour de force, an inventive mix of riddles, Shakespeare, and various verse forms. Elegant riddles are evoked in a limerick, a ballad stanza, a triolet, a double dactyl and more. Playfully fashioned from shades of Shakespeare, each riddle is accompanied by an explanation of the body part as a helpful clue. And all the verse forms are deftly described in End Notes. Random Body Parts is sure to challenge anatomy buffs of all ages.”

Leslie Bulion tags Laura Purdie Salas
Leslie Bulion studied oceanography and her science background comes through her poetry, including At the Sea Floor Café; Odd Ocean Critter Poems and Hey There, Stink Bug!, as well as this year’s Random Body Parts.When asked for her recommendation, she chose Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas: “I love the way the brilliant imagery in Laura Purdie Salas’s Water Can Be… invites me to linger on every single page. For example, “Picture catcher” transports my mind to wonderful water reflections I’ve seen, and when I read “Woodchuck warmer,” I wonder about those woodchucks tucked snug under snow in winter. Laura uses accessible, developmentally appropriate language to explain the science concepts behind each lyrical, rhythmic phrase in the back matter--perfect for young science poets!”

and it goes on...
(As soon as I see it online, I'll post the link, but it's currently only available to Booklist subscribers.)

And I end with suggestions of activities to consider (along with CCSS connections). Here's that chunk:

1. Play science poetry tag! Gather a selection of science-themed poetry books and encourage children to browse through them, sharing poems spontaneously with one another. Then, choose one poem to begin. Read it aloud and talk about it together. Then find another poem to link to it based on some connection between the two poems: another poem by the same the poet, another poem on the same topic (animals, nature, planets, etc.), or another poem from the same area of science (biology, astronomy, etc.). Share that poem aloud and discuss and compare. If time allows, keep going by “tagging” another poem.

2. Start with science photos. There are so many excellent sources of images for science study, from those in print books, of course, to online sources such as National Geographic (e.g., Animals.NationalGeographic.com; Photography.NationalGeographic.com; Kids.NationalGeographic.com). Choose a subject that is of current relevance and interest (e.g., Mars, chimpanzees, bacteria) and peruse the available images (in print or online sources). Then, search through available poetry anthologies and see if you can find a poem to go with the image. It might be an explicit connection— a poem about the sun to go with an image of the sun—or it might be a more abstract connection, such as a poem about summer fun, day vs. night, or warmth and caring. Work together to create your own collaborative anthology of images and matching poems. 

3. Many of the science-themed poetry books mentioned here weave together poetry, prose, and art. Challenge children to work in trios to research a science topic of their choice. Then allow them to choose their role for the next step: who will write the explanatory prose paragraph? Who will write the poem? Who will create the accompanying illustration? Afterward, talk about each role and discuss which they find easiest or hardest and why. Invite them to challenge themselves by taking on one of the OTHER roles next time and talk about how each information source is valuable and unique: prose, poetry and art. 

Finally, the article also includes a comprehensive bibliography of science poetry books, too including all the books by these poets and "tagged" by them too. 

Science Poetry Scoop
And I have a science poetry project of my own (that includes many of these poets, of course) that I'm very excited about and will share more news about that on Dec. 1. Stay tuned! 

Meanwhile, join the Poetry Friday crew over at Write. Sketch. Repeat. hosted by Katya Czaja. See you there!

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4. Celebrating Day of the Dead

I love Halloween! I love making costumes and trick or treaters and candy and skeletons and pumpkins! Living in Texas, I also enjoyed discovering the tradition of the Day of the Dead-- a time to remember those we love who are no longer with us (thinking of you, Dad, Oma, Opa, Julia, Izell, Monte, Lettie). So, I was happy that we featured a poem about the Day of the Dead by our very own Texas author, René Saldaña, Jr., in this year's Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015). On top of that, my talented collaborator, Janet Wong, tried her hand at making a poem video for this poem which you can view by clicking HERE.

Here is the poem in English AND Spanish along with the Take 5 activities to guide you in sharing this poem. Enjoy!

Now head on over to Check it Out where Jone is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering here.

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5. Teen Read Week: Poem #7 "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

Here's the final poem in my series for Teen Read Week on the theme "Get Away @ the library" to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun to it. It's also a great poem for celebrating Halloween next week! It's "Dracula" by Carmen T. Bernier Grand from The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013). You can also find it at Pinterest here

And here are the "Take 5" activities for sharing this poem also available at Pinterest here.

If you haven't gotten your copy of The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Middle School, it's not too late! It includes 110 poems by 71 poets along with "Take 5" mini-lessons for each and every poem tied to the Common Core skills (and/or TEKS in Texas) for each grade level, grades 6, 7, 8. 

Now head on over to Jama's place to celebrate Poetry Friday. She always has a yummy treat for us!

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6. Teen Read Week: Poem #6 "Texas, Out Driving" by Naomi Shihab Nye

Teen Read Week continues with the theme "Get Away @ the library" to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun to it. Today, I'm sharing "Texas, Out Driving" by Naomi Shihab Nye. Yes, I live in Texas, so of course I love this poem, but I think you will too. Who doesn't love Naomi's lovely, lyrical, intelligent, compassionate poems? I'm so proud that this one is featured in The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013). You can also find this poem graphic at Pinterest here

If you'd like ideas about how to share this poem with teens and tweens, try these "Take 5" activities from The Poetry Friday Anthology® for Middle School. This graphic is also available at Pinterest here.

One more poem coming tomorrow (and perfect for Halloween)...

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7. Teen Read Week: Poem #4 "Racing the Clouds" by Jacqueline Jules

Here's the fourth poem in my series for Teen Read Week on the theme "Get Away @ the library" to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun to it. It's "Racing the Clouds" by Jacqueline Jules from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013). You can also find it at Pinterest here.

And here are the Take 5 activities that accompany this poem. The Pinterest link is here.

More to come...

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8. Teen Read Week: Poem #4 "Spiral Glide" by Mary Lee Hahn

Here's the fourth poem in celebration of Teen Read Week and the theme "Get Away @ the library" which is intended to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun to it. Share this thoughtful poem, "Spiral Glide" by Mary Lee Hahn from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013). You can also find it at Pinterest here

And here are the Take 5 activities that accompany the poem. The Pinterest link for the Take 5 activities is here.

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9. Teen Read Week: Poem #3 "How Romantic Can You Get?" by George Ella Lyon

Here's the third poem in my series for Teen Read Week on the theme "Get Away @ the library" to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun to it. It's "How Romantic Can You Get?" by George Ella Lyon from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013). You can also find it at Pinterest here

And here are the Take 5 activities from the book also available at Pinterest here

More to come!

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10. Teen Read Week: Poem #2 "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley

It's time for our second installment in our poems for Teen Read Week and the theme "Get Away @ the library" to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun of it. Here's "Future Hoopsters" by Avis Harley from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School.  It is also available at Pinterest here.

And here are the "Take 5" activities that accompany the poem, also at Pinterest here.

More to come...

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11. Teen Read Week: Poem #1 "Restless" by Joyce Sidman

Teen Read Week starts today and in honor of this year's theme, "Get Away @ your library," I'm posting a poem a day from The PFA for Middle School. Here's the first installment by the lovely Joyce Sidman:

It can also be found at Pinterest here.

And here are the Take 5 activities that accompany this poem in the book, also found at Pinterest here

And here's some background info about Teen Read Week (#TRW15) from the ning:

Teen Read Week™ is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually in October the same week as Columbus Day. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.  
The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) encourages libraries to use the Get Away theme during Teen Read Week™, October 18 - 24, 2015, to spotlight all the great resources and activities available to help teens build literacy skills while reading for the fun of it. An annual celebration, this year’s theme encourages libraries to help teens escape from the day to day grind of school, homework, family responsibilities, part time jobs and so on by picking up something to read. 

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12. Audio Poetry

I'll be at the biennial IBBY regional conference hosted by USBBY this weekend-- in New York! I'm presenting along with the lovely Rose Brock on "Through the Looking and Listening Glass: How Audiobooks Channel Culture and Impact Literacy." My focus? Poetry, of course! So, here's the scoop for those of you who can't be there!

Poetry always remembers that it was an oral art before it was a written art. It remembers that it was first song.
Jorge Luis Borges

There are several places to find audio adaptations of poetry for young people. Many are available as CDs (formerly cassettes) accompanying print books or as downloadable audio files. If you want to hear how poetry should sound, there is no better resource than hearing the poets themselves read their poems aloud or professional narrators bring poetry to life. And we’re fortunate to have more and more access to recorded poetry through iTunes, audioclips, CDs and tapes, downloadable audio from web sites, audio stores, and more. 

Audio Poetry Activities
1. Children can tape record themselves reading a favorite poem aloud, copy the poem in their best handwriting, illustrate it, and present their poem performance as a gift to a loved one. 

2. Children can collect examples of favorite poems on audio- or videotape and explore neighborhood, cultural, and linguistic variations. They can translate their English favorites into other languages represented in their community. 

3. If audio or public address announcements are made on a regular basis, include the oral reading of a poem (by a child or other volunteer) on a daily or weekly basis. Challenge children to work with a partner to incorporate multiple voices, sound effects, or musical instruments.

4. Books and poems in the public domain can be read and recorded by anyone at Librivox.org and then made available world-wide. Tools like SoundCloud enable children to create their own audio anthologies or podcast recordings of favorite poems.
Audio/Video Poetry Online
Multimedia area includes audio, video, podcasts, slideshows

Audio and video clips of individual poems and poets

Videos of average citizens reading favorite poems

Archive of audio recordings of poets reading their work, including a children’s poetry area

Poet biographies, sample poems, audio archives, National Poetry Month celebrations

Info  about the Poet Laureates of the U.S., national prizes in poetry, special poetry events, and audio archives

The Poetry Foundation offers a dedicated area for “Children’s Poetry” featuring several hundred poems for children searchable and organized by topic, some with audio links

*No Water River.com (by Renée M. LaTulippe)
Video of children’s poets reading from their work along with extensive teaching connections, plus features on each of the NCTE Poetry Award winners

My own sites (with Janet Wong) featuring the Poetry Friday teaching anthologies with downloadables and audio and video poetry

*Poet Websites
Some poets feature video and audio on their personal websites. Michael Rosen, for example, has 49 videos of himself reciting poems from an out of print book. Others with audio links include Kristine O’Connell George, Janet Wong, Nikki Grimes, Joyce Sidman.
Audio Awards 

*Odyssey Audiobook Award
*ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings 
*YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 
*Grammy Awards for Spoken Word 
*Audio Publishers Association’s Audie Awards 

Poetry Apps 
iF Poems (Clickworks Ltd., 2011) Read, listen to, record and share your favorite poems from a collection of more than 200 classic (largely British) poems narrated by actors Helena Bonham Carter and Bill Nighy.
The Grim Granary: Poems for Kids Big and Small (Tusitala Pte. Ltd., 2011), a collection of darkly humorous illustrated poems with audio renditions of each poem available in three languages” 
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: The Experience (FlyingWord, 2011), the classic poem features the illustrations of Michael Hague, accessible in 9 languages.

Audio Poetry for Young People: A Select Bibliography
Alexander, Kwame. The Crossover (Recorded Books, 2014)
Andrews, Julie and Hamilton, Emma Walton. Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (Hachette Audio, 2009)
Brown, Calef. Flamingos on the Roof (Recorded Books, 2009)
Creech, Sharon. Hate that Cat (Harper Children’s Audio, 2008)
Creech, Sharon. Heartbeat (Recorded Books, 2004)
Creech, Sharon. Love that Dog (Harper Children’s Audio, 2002)
Dakos, Kalli. If You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand (Recorded Books, 2009)
Engle, Margarita. The Poet Slave of Cuba (Listening Library, 2009)
Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree (Listening Library, 2009)
Engle, Margarita. Tropical Secrets (Listening Library, 2009)
Fleischman, Paul. Joyful Noise/I Am Phoenix (Audio Bookshelf, 2001)
Franco, Betsy. Metamorphosis: Junior Year (Brilliance, 2010)
Frost, Helen. Crossing Stones (Recorded Books, 2010)
Frost, Helen. Keesha’s House (Recorded Books, 2004)
Frost, Helen. Diamond Willow (Recorded Books, 2009)
Giovanni, Nikki. Hip Hop Speaks to Children (Sourcebooks, 2008)
Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade (Recorded Books, 2006)
Grimes, Nikki. Dark Sons (Zondervan, 2010)
Grimes, Nikki. Jazmin’s Notebook (Penguin, 2008)
Hemphill, Stephanie. Your Own, Sylvia (Listening Library, 2009)
Hesse, Karen. Aleutian Sparrow (Listening Library, 2003)
Hesse, Karen. Out of the Dust (Listening Library, 2006)
Hesse, Karen. Witness (Listening Library, 2006)
Hoberman, Mary Ann and Wilson, Linda. The Tree That Time Built: A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination (Sourcebooks, 2009)
Lewis, J. Patrick. The Brothers’ War: Civil War Voices in Verse (Recorded Books, 2007)
Lithgow, John. The Poets' Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family (Hachette, 2007)
Milne, A.A. When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six (Harper Children’s Audio, 2004)
Myers, Walter Dean. Blues Journey (Live Oak Media, 2003)
Myers, Walter Dean. Harlem: A Poem (Spoken Arts, 1998)
Myers, Walter Dean. Here in Harlem (Live Oak Media, 2010)
Myers, Walter Dean. Jazz (Live Oak Media, 2007)
Myers, Walter Dean. Looking Like Me (Live Oak Media, 2010)
Nesbitt, Kenn. My Hippo Has the Hiccups and Other Poems I Totally Made Up (Sourcebooks, 2009)
Paschen, Elise and Raccah, Dominque. Poetry Speaks to Children (Sourcebooks, 2005)
Paschen, Elise and Raccah, Dominque. Poetry Speaks; Who I Am (Sourcebooks, 2010)
Prelutsky, Jac. A Pizza the Size of the Sun (Harper Audio, 2007)
Prelutsky, Jack. Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face: And Other Poems: Some of the Best of Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow, 2008)
Prelutsky, Jack. Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant (Harper Audio, 2006)
Prelutsky, Jack. In Aunt Giraffe’s Green Garden (Harper Audio, 2007)
Prelutsky, Jack. It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles (Harper Audio, 2008)
Prelutsky, Jack. Monday’s Troll (Listening Library, 1996)
Prelutsky, Jack. My Dog May Be a Genius (Harper Audio, 2008)
Prelutsky, Jack. Scranimals (Harper Audio, 2007)
Prelutsky, Jack. Something Big Has Been Here (Harper Audio, 2007)
Prelutsky, Jack. The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders (Harper Audio, 2005)
Prelutsky, Jack. The Jack Prelutsky Holiday CD Audio Collection (Greenwillow, 2005)
Prelutsky, Jack. The New Kid on the Block (Harper Audio, 2007)
Raschka, Chris. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (Live Oak Media, 2003)
Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor. (Recorded Books, 2010)
Silverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic (20th Anniversary Edition) (HarperCollins, 2001)
Silverstein, Shel. Where the Sidewalk Ends (25th Anniversary Edition) (HarperCollins, 2000)
Singer, Marilyn. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse (Live Oak Media, 2011)
Sones, Sonya. What My Mother Doesn’t Know (Brilliance, 2008)
Steptoe, Javaka. In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall (Live Oak Media, 2003)
The Caedmon Poetry Collection: A Century of Poets Reading their Work (Caedmon, 2000)
Thomas, Joyce Carol. Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea (Spoken Arts, 1998)
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Birmingham 1963 (Recorded Books, 2007)
Williams, Vera B. Amber was Brave, Essie was Smart (Live Oak Media, 2003)
Wolf, Allan. The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic (Candlewick, 2011)
Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion (Recorded Books, 2012)
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming (Listening Library, 2014)
Yolen, Jane. How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night (Weston Woods, 2005)

From: Vardell, S. The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists (2012)

Join us for more Poetry Friday sharing over at Amy's Poem Farm. See you online there!

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13. Celebrate Star Wars Reads Day with POETRY

I may have mentioned before that I'm a big Star Wars nerd! I have loved the movies, characters, and lore since 1977 and even attend the conventions or Star Wars "Celebrations" with my family. So I was tickled that there is now a "Star Wars Reads" Day to promote reading being held for the 4th year-- on October 10. You'll find activities and reproducibles here and they have a Facebook page, too, of course. For kids and families who already enjoy the world of Star Wars, it's a chance for them to shine and to promote reading too (and there are lots of Star Wars-themed reading materials). And with the launch of a 7th Star Wars movie in December, it's a fun time to welcome new fans and celebrate science (and sci fi and mythology too). 

And of course I want to make a POETRY connection, in particular. There are heaps of science-themed poems to share and I've written about that before. In fact, I have an article about this topic coming out in BOOK LINKS in November with science poetry recommendations from 15 poets themselves. And Janet (Wong) and I will be announcing a new science poetry project ourselves very soon too! More on all that later.

Meanwhile, I thought it might be fun to take a few poems and "Star Wars-ify" them! To reinterpret them through the lens of Star Wars. So, if you're familiar with Darth Vader (the dark villain of the series), Yoda (the wise guru), and C3PO (a robot dedicated to languages and etiquette), you might enjoy the three following poems filtered from THEIR perspectives! 

For example, I have featured "Poem for a Bully" by Eileen Spinelli from The Poetry Friday Anthology previously over at Pinterest here. But what if we put that "Poem for a Bully" against an image of Darth Vader, a bully with a secret himself?

Or consider the wise Yoda character who teaches young Luke Skywalker to control his emotions and fears in order to face his enemy (and himself).  What if Yoda is the backdrop for the poem "Fear Factor" by Sara Holbrook from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School? You'll find a more traditional interpretation of the poem at Pinterest here and the Yoda interpretation below. 

Or finally, if you're familiar with the droid (or robot) character, C3PO, you know he is a prissy individual proud of his ability to speak multiple languages and know the rules of etiquette and behavior in many cultures. What if he is sharing a poem about making friends using greetings in several languages? Here's a more traditional interpretation of the poem, "How to Make a Friend" by Jane Heitman Healy from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations and below is the same poem shared by C3PO.

If you're working with children and families who love Star Wars like I do, challenge them to find a poem from a book on the shelves that fits a Star Wars character and then read it from the point of view of that character. It's a fun way to approach poetry and celebrate our Star Wars knowledge too! 

Now, join the rest of the crew over at Laura's site, Writing the World for Kids, where we're celebrating Poetry Friday. 

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14. The Poetry of Place: Celebrating Geography in Poetry

I just got a copy of the new anthology, Amazing Places, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and I was tickled pink to see that the State Fair of Texas was included in the 14 landmarks across the U.S. highlighted in poetry. So.... of course I had to take the book with me on my annual visit to the state fair this year and get my photo taken with Big Tex himself! 

    The arrow points to the image of Big Tex that is included in the illustration!
Big Tex as featured in the book illustration
The accompanying poem is "Midway Magic" by Rebecca Kai Dotlich-- a wonderful poem to read aloud-- nice and LOUD! 

Lee is having a great year with three books of poetry out in 2015 and each one is a treat:
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2015. Amazing Places. New York: Lee & Low.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Sel. 2015. Jumping Off Library Shelves: A Book of Poems. Ill. by Jane Manning. 
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Sel. 2015. Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby. Ill. by Alyssa Nassner. New York: Abrams.
And because I love to travel, it was fun to browse through each of the sites featured in Amazing Places and savor each of the poet perspectives, too. That got me thinking-- are there other works of poetry that particularly showcase the importance of place? Of course there are! So, I pulled a list together to share with you here-- and I welcome additional suggestions, of course. 

The Poetry of Place: Poems and Geography
  1. _______. 2012. A Poem as Big as New York City: Little Kids Write About the Big Apple. Ill. by Masha D’yans. New York: Teachers Writers Collaborative.
  2. Asch, Frank. 1996. Sawgrass Poems:  A View of the Everglades. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  3. Asch, Frank. 1998. Cactus Poems. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  4. Asch, Frank. 1999. Song of the North. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  5. Begay, Shonto. 1995. Navajo: Visions and Voices Across the Mesa. New York:  Scholastic.
  6. Brown, Skila. 2014. Caminar. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  7. Bruchac, Joseph. 1995. The Earth under Sky Bear's Feet: Native American Poems of the Land. New York: Philomel Books.
  8. Bruchac, Joseph. 1996. Between Earth and Sky:  Legends of Native American Sacred Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
  9. Coombs, Kate. 2012. Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems. Ill. by Meilo So. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  10. Dotlich, Rebecca Kai and Lewis, J. Patrick. 2006. Castles: Old Stone Poems. Ill. by Dan Burr. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press. 
  11. Engle, Margarita. 2008. The Surrender Tree. New York: Holt.
  12. Engle, Margarita. 2011. Hurricane Dancers; The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck. New York: Henry Holt. 
  13. Engle, Margarita. 2014. Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  14. Engle, Margarita. 2015. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. New York: Atheneum.
  15. Greenfield, Eloise. 2011. The Great Migration: Journey to the North. Ill. by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. New York: Amistad/HarperCollins. 
  16. Grimes, Nikki. 2000. Is It Far to Zanzibar: Poems about Tanzania. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. 
  17. Grimes, Nikki. 2004. Tai Chi morning: Snapshots of China. Chicago: Cricket Books.
  18. Gunning, Monica. 1998. Under The Breadfruit Tree: Island Poems. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
  19. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2000. My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  20. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 2009. City I Love. Ill. by Marcellus Hall. New York: Abrams. 
  21. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2002. Home to Me: Poems Across America. New York: Orchard.
  22. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2006. Got Geography! Poems. New York: Greenwillow.
  23. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2015. Amazing Places. New York: Lee & Low.
  24. Johnston, Tony. 1996. My Mexico-Mexico Mio. New York: Putnam.
  25. Katz, Bobbi. 2007. Trailblazers; Poems of Exploration. New York: Greenwillow. 
  26. Kurtz, Jane. 2000. River Friendly, River Wild. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  27. Lai, Thanhha. 2011. Inside Out and Back Again. New York: HarperCollins.
  28. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2002. A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme. New York: Dial.
  29. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. Good Mornin’, Miss America: The U.S.A. in Verse. School Specialty Publishing. 
  30. Lewis, J. Patrick. 2005. Monumental Verses. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.
  31. Lewis, J. Patrick. Ed. 2015. The National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry. Washington DC: National Geographic.
  32. Littlechild, George. 1993. This Land Is My Land. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
  33. Mora, Pat. 1994. The Desert is My Mother/El Desierto es Mi Madre. Houston, TX: Pinata Books.
  34. Myers, Walter Dean. 1997. Harlem: A Poem. New York: Scholastic.
  35. Myers, Walter Dean. 2011. We are America; A Tribute from the Heart. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: HarperCollins.
  36. Prelutsky, Jack. 2002. The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders. New York: Greenwillow.
  37. Salas, Laura Purdie. 2008. Tiny Dreams, Sprouting Tall: Poems About the United States. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.
  38. Siebert, Diane. 1988. Mojave. New York: Crowell.
  39. Siebert, Diane. 1989. Heartland. New York: Crowell.
  40. Siebert, Diane. 1991. Sierra. New York: HarperCollins.
  41. Siebert, Diane. 2000. Cave. New York: HarperCollins.
  42. Siebert, Diane. 2001. Mississippi. Ill. by Greg Harlin. New York: HarperCollins.
  43. Siebert, Diane. 2006. Tour America: A Journey through Poems and Art. San Francisco: Chronicle.
  44. Singer, Marilyn. 2005. Monday on the Mississippi. New York: Henry Holt.
  45. Thompson, Holly. 2011. Orchards. New York: Random House.
  46. Wassenhove, Sue Van. 2008. The Seldom-Ever-Shady Glades. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills/Wordsong.
  47. Wolf, Allan. 2004. New Found Land; Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.
  48. Yolen, Jane. 1996. Sacred Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.
Meanwhile, head on over to Heidi's place, My Juicy Little Universe, for the Poetry Friday gathering. See you there!

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15. Let’s Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

We’re devoting this post to National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15) celebrated in the poem, "I Can Ask and I Can Learn" by Janet Wong from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books). Please join me as we chat with Janet about National Hispanic Heritage Month resources, diversity in children’s literature, insider/outsider perspectives, and more.

SV: We have many wonderful Hispanic poets in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations—Alma Flor Ada, Francisco X. Alarcón, Jorge Argueta, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, F. Isabel Campoy, Margarita Engle, Pat Mora, Libby Martinez, and René Saldaña, Jr.—so please share with us: Janet, why did you write the poem celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?

JW: Originally, as you know, I didn’t plan to write it. I hoped that Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy would collaborate on it. They helped us with so much of the book—from connecting us with a translator to vetting poems to writing poems on being bilingual, all in just a few months—but then they went on a long vacation in Australia and I felt sheepish about asking for yet another thing. At the same time I started thinking: why does it need to be written by a Hispanic poet? Shouldn’t we ALL want to learn about Hispanic history and culture?

SV: True, but how does that fit in with the current thinking of many people on insider/outsider perspectives and diversity—the question of “who owns this story?”

JW: I think it’s shortsighted to define “insiders” merely in biological terms. If we want all children to learn about each other, then we need to allow all writers to write about everything, as long as they approach their subjects with passion, research, and respect. And the corollary is that kids need to be encouraged to read everything that interests them. If you have a white kid who is fascinated with Hispanic culture—great! An Asian student who loves reading about black history? Outstanding! This is the way we’ll achieve cross-cultural understanding and end racism.

SV: And here is Janet's poem (in English AND in Spanish):

SV: Do you have recommendations for further reading for teachers interested in using your poem to spark a discussion for National Hispanic Heritage Month?

JW: Yes! One book that I was reading while I wrote this poem—for my work as last year’s chair of the Notable Books for a Global Society—was Larry Dane Brimner’s Strike! The Farm Workers’ Fight for Their Rights (Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills), one of our NBGS selections. Some additional books on the subject of Hispanic contributions to labor reform on farms are:

Dolores Huerta: A Hero to Migrant Workers by Sarah Warren, illus. by Robert Casilla (Cavendish, 2012) 
Side by Side/Lado a lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez by Monica Brown, illustrated by Joe Cepeda 

César: Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz (Cavendish, 2004) 

You can find some background discussion about the role that the song “De colores” played in the farmworkers’ movement here

“Kathy Murguía: I remember singing De Colores at the weekly Friday night strike meetings that were held in Delano . . . Every meeting ended with us joining hands and singing De Colores, which enhanced a sense of community, of being connected in a struggle for justice. We continued to sing it in the decades following those early meetings, during Union events and other gatherings, often as a closing. The rooster, the hen, the chicks that sing, the great loves of many colors—these images brought such joy, such pleasure and lastly for those who sang it, such hope . . . While the lyrics don't speak of social justice, it is a song of the season of springtime and beauty, of life and colors—and we were all kinds of different colors. I believe as we sang, our hearts were longing for the beauty that comes with gentle love and justice.” 
There are many versions of “De colores” on YouTube, but here is one favorite, sung by Joan Baez (with lyrics). 

SV: How can we make sure that students appreciate the wide variety of Hispanic and Latino experiences, and not just those of farmworkers? 

JW: I would share Yes! We Are Latinos! by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by David Diaz (Charlesbridge, 2013). Tie into this theme by starting with a poem and a nonfiction piece on farmworkers (“My Name Is Julio”  in a section on Migrant Farmworkers, pages 50-57), but then follow it with a read-aloud of pieces about a Dominican boy who wants to be a doctor, a granddaughter of Spanish Civil War exiles, and more.

SV: I’m tickled pink by all these resources that you’ve shared and I’m sure you have heaps more . . . but it’s time to wrap up. 

JW: Time’s up? So that’s why you’re shaking your bracelet!

SV: Would you like to end with another favorite poem to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, perhaps “I Will Be a Chemist: Mario José Molina" by Alma Flor Ada, from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science? 

JW: Perfect choice, Dr. Vardell! 

SV: Thanks for sharing your perspective AND your poetry, Janet. Readers can find more resources on Hispanic/Latino/Latina poetry for young people here and lots more poems in English and Spanish from the Celebrations anthology over at Pinterest-- here's the link.

And now it's time to gather all our poetry friends for Poetry Friday. Please use Mr. Linky below, "In Other Words," to add your blog link and make it easy for everyone to access one another's blogs. Thanks! 

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16. Reverse engineering: Picture book + poetry pairings

Eight years ago, I published an article in Book Links magazine that matched picture books with parallel poems, so that teachers and librarians who read the picture book aloud could have a poem on the same topic (or with the same theme) to follow up or introduce or extend the book experience. It was entitled: "Linking picture books and poetry; A celebration of Black History Month." Book Links. 2007. 16, (3), 44-47. (Sorry, but I can't find it online anymore.) Anyhoo... that got such a great response and really got me thinking about that potential in pairing two genres and formats. 

Flash forward and Janet (Wong) and I decided to do the same thing with our latest book, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015). Yes, it's a poetry anthology with 156 poems by 115 poets. Yes, the poems are tied to all kinds of celebrations, holidays, and historic events. Yes, all the poems appear in both English and Spanish. BUT... every poem is also paired with a picture book. And it occurred to me that one could "reverse engineer" this book, ignore the "holidays" component, and use the book to find poems to match with 156 of your favorite contemporary picture books that you share in story times and lessons. (We even provide an index listing all the picture books along with the page numbers for the matching poems.) So, if you like picture books, read them aloud to kids, and would like to START there, here is a complete list of all the picture books we link with poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations. 

PICTURE BOOKS CITED (all with matching poems)
365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental (Abrams, 2006)
A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (HMH, 2008) 
A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey (Philomel, 2014)
A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many by Brian P. Cleary (Millbrook, 2014)  
A Piñata in a Pine Tree by Pat Mora (Clarion, 2009)
A Sick Day for Amos Magee by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook, 2010) 
A Sweet Passover by Lesléa Newman (Abrams, 2012)
All Different Now: Juneteenth by Angela Johnson (Simon & Schuster, 2014)
All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant (Abrams, 2009) 
All in Just One Cookie by Susan E. Goodman (Greenwillow, 2006) 
All of Baby, Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler (Dial, 2009) 
All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon (Atheneum, 2011) 
An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston (Chronicle, 2006) 
And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano (Roaring Brook, 2012)
At the Same Moment Around the World by Clotilde Perrin (Chronicle, 2014) 
Auntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie Lo (Lee & Low, 2012)
Baby’s First Laugh by Jessie Eve Ruffenach (Salina Bookshelf, 2003) 
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead (Roaring Brook, 2012) 
Bella & Bean by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (Atheneum, 2009)
Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter (Simon & Schuster, 2010) 
Big, Bigger, Biggest! by Nancy Coffelt (Holt, 2009) 
Blackout by John Rocco (Disney-Hyperion, 2011) 
Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day by Pat Mora (Rayo, 2009)
Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami (Lee & Low, 2006) 
Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox by Susan Blackaby (Sterling, 2011) 
Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins (Candlewick, 2011) 
Carl’s Summer Vacation by Alexandra Day (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008) 
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, 2010) 
Christmas Tree! By Florence Minor (HarperCollins, 2005) 
Clara and Davie by Patricia Polacco (Scholastic, 2014)
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett (Disney-Hyperion, 2013) 
Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers & Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett (Candlewick, 2010)
Dale, Dale, Dale: Hit It, Hit It, Hit It by René Saldaña, Jr. (Piñata Books, 2014)
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams, 2010) 
Desert Elephants by Helen Cowcher (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011) 
Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates (Knopf, 2010)
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015) 
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules (Albert Whitman, 2009) 
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Chronicle, 2009)
Earth Day, Birthday by Maureen Wright (Two Lions, 2012) 
Every Friday by Dan Yaccarino (Holt, 2007) 
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade, 2013) 
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett (Balzer & Bray, 2012)
Fireboy to the Rescue! by Edward Miller (Holiday House, 2010) 
Flip, Float, Fly!: Seeds on the Move by JoAnn Early Macken (Holiday House, 2008)
Follow Me by Tricia Tusa (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) 
Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes (Chronicle, 2012) 
Grandfather Counts by Andrea Cheng (Lee & Low, 2000) 
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Roaring Brook, 2012) 
H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers (Egmont, 2012)
Hands around the Library by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya (Dial, 2012) 
Hanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel (Holiday House, 2013)
Helen’s Big World by Doreen Rappaport (Disney-Hyperion, 2012) 
Henry's First-Moon Birthday by Lenore Look (Atheneum, 2001) 
Hide-and-Seek Science: Animal Camouflage by Emma Stevenson (Holiday House, 2013)
Holidays Around the World: Diwali by Deborah Heiligman (National Geographic, 2008) 
Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) 
How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham (Candlewick, 2008) 
I Call My Grandpa Papa; I Call My Grandma Nana by Ashley Wolff (Tricycle, 2009)
I Have a Dream by Kadir Nelson (Schwartz & Wade, 2012)
I Love Saturdays y domingos by Alma Flor Ada (Atheneum, 2002) 
I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez (Knopf, 2014) 
I Remember Abuelito by Janie Levy (Albert Whitman, 2007)
Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís (Scholastic, 2015)
If the World Were a Village (2nd edition) by David J. Smith (Kids Can Press, 2011) 
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick, 2010)
Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith (HarperCollins, 2000) 
Jurassic Poop by Jacob Berkowitz (Kids Can Press, 2006) 
Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert (Harcourt, 2005) 
Li’l Rabbit’s Kwanzaa by Donna L. Washington (HarperCollins, 2010) 
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick, 2006)
Ling & Ting: Share a Birthday by Grace Lin (Little, Brown, 2013) 
Littlebat’s Halloween Story by Diane Mayr (Whitman, 2009) 
Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya (Putnam, 2014) 
Mama Loves by Rebecca Kai Dotlich (HarperCollins, 2004)
Marvelous Mattie by Emily Arnold McCully (2006)
Mind Your Manners, B. B. Wolf by Judy Sierra (Knopf, 2007)
Miss Fox’s Class Shapes Up by Eileen Spinelli (Albert Whitman, 2011) 
Moonshot by Brian Floca (Atheneum, 2009) 
Mother to Tigers by George Ella Lyon (Atheneum, 2003)  
My Teacher by James Ransome (Dial, 2012) 
Neville by Norton Juster (Schwartz & Wade, 2011) 
New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland (Dial, 2009) 
Night of the Moon by Hena Khan (Chronicle, 2008) 
No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart (Charlesbridge, 2013)
Noah Webster & His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) 
Now & Ben by Gene Barretta (Square Fish, 2008) 
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel & Sons, 2006)
Oscar’s Half Birthday by Bob Graham (Candlewick, 2005)
Our Grandparents: A Global Album by Maya Ajmera (Charlesbridge, 2010)
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by James Dean (HarperCollins, 2012)
Picture Day Perfection by Deborah Diesen (Abrams, 2013)
Pirate vs. Pirate by Mary Quattlebaum (Hyperion, 2011)
Planes Fly! by George Ella Lyon (Atheneum, 2013)
Polar Bears by Mark Newman (Holt, 2010)
Popcorn by Elaine Landau (Charlesbridge, 2003)
President’s Day by Anne Rockwell (HarperCollins, 2007)
Press Here by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle, 2011) 
Red, White, and Boom! by Lee Wardlaw (Holt, 2012) 
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (Abrams, 2013) 
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan (Scholastic, 2014) 
Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora (Putnam, 2010)
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin (Dial, 2013) 
Sequoia by Tony Johnston (Roaring Brook, 2014) 
Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton (Little, Brown, 2010)
Sick Simon by Dan Krall (Simon & Schuster, 2015)
So You Want to Be President by Judith St. George (Philomel, 2004) 
Spaghetti Smiles by Margo Sorenson (Pelican, 2014) 
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon (Atheneum, 2013)
Ten Days and Nine Nights by Yumi Heo (Schwartz & Wade, 2009) 
Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival by Grace Lin (Knopf, 2010)
That Is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems  (Balzer & Bray, 2013) 
The Birthday Cake by Sven Nordqvist (NorthSouth, 2015)
The Book Boat’s In by Cynthia Cotten (Holiday House, 2013) 
The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak (Dial, 2014)
The Camping Trip that Changed America by Barb Rosenstock (Dial, 2012) 
The Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky (Knopf, 2010) 
The Christmas Coat by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve (Holiday House, 2011) 
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt (Philomel, 2013) 
The Dumpster Diver by Janet Wong (Candlewick, 2007)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (Atheneum, 2012)
The Flag Maker by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (HMH, 2004) 
The Greatest Game Ever Played by Phil Bildner (Putnam, 2006)
The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers (Dial, 2007) 
The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel, 2007) 
The Kindhearted Crocodile by Lucia Panzieri (Holiday House, 2013) 
The Last Day of Kindergarten by Nancy Loewen (Two Lions, 2011) 
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown, 2009) 
The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer (Dutton, 2010)
The Mangrove Tree by Susan L. Roth (Lee & Low, 2011) 
The Odd Egg by Emily Gravett (Simon & Schuster, 2009) 
The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon (Atheneum, 2010) 
The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rania of Jordan (Disney-Hyperion, 2010) 
The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer (Dutton, 2003) 
The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park (Clarion, 2011)
The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin (Charlesbridge, 1999) 
The Wakame Gatherers by Holly Thompson (Shen’s/Lee & Low, 2007) 
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli (Disney-Hyperion, 2013) 
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman (Magination, 2014) 
This Next New Year by Janet Wong (Korean/English edition, Pomelo, 2014) 
This Old Band by Tamera Will Wissinger (Sky Pony, 2014) 
This School Year Will Be the Best by Kay Winters (Dutton, 2010) 
Tillie the Terrible Swede by Sue Stauffacher (Knopf, 2011) 
To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure (Abrams, 2011) 
Twenty-two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo (Lee & Low, 2014) 
Vote! by Eileen Christelow (Clarion, 2003) 
We March by Shane Evans (Roaring Brook, 2012)
What a Party! by Sandy Asher (Philomel, 2007) 
What Did You Put in Your Pocket? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (HarperCollins, 2003) 
When Otis Courted Mama by Kathi Appelt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)
When We Go Walking by Cari Best (Two Lions, 2013) 
When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Story by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt, 2013) 
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone (Holt, 2013) 
Why the Chicken Crossed the Road by Tedd Arnold and others (Dial, 2006) 
Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park (Clarion, 2013) 
Yes, Let’s by Galen Goodwin Longstreth (Tanglewood Press, 2013) 
Yo-Yo Man by Daniel Pinkwater (HarperCollins, 2007)
Zoopa: An Animal Alphabet by Gianna Marino (Chronicle, 2005)
Yes, there really is a poem for each one of these picture books in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (and in English AND Spanish). So, for example, if you have a picture book about spaghetti like Spaghetti Smiles by Margo Sorenson (or another favorite spaghetti book), and you regularly share that book with kids (who generally love spaghetti), there is a poem waiting for you to match with that book. Here it is:

And if you want to share this book and poem on National Pasta Day, October 17, you're all set! But you can certainly share both the book and poem on ANY day, right? 

Now head on over to Today's Little Ditty where the lovely Michelle H-B is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering.

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17. Celebrate POET

In a wonderful confluence of variables, author and illustrator Don Tate was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as part of his book tour for his new picture book, Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, and since my daughter lives in Chapel Hill, I mentioned this to her and she attended his presentation. She took photos, made video clips, and even got a book autographed for me! So lovely! You can see all about Don't launch week complete with photos at his blog here. There were even descendants of poet George Moses Horton in the audience! So cool!

I'm sharing a few nuggets here because I think this book (and this author/illustrator) is really special: Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton published by Peachtree Press. It's Don's first book as BOTH author and illustrator and I was so pleased that Don spoke at the Poetry Round Up at the Texas Library Association conference this last spring and even read one of Horton's poems aloud. There's a wonderful video at Don's website here and you can learn more about his Freedom Tour, too.

I was already somewhat familiar with the book and the story, but when I received galleys this summer (along with a quill pen and powdered ink!), I was really captivated by this book. First, it's an engaging, true account beautifully illustrated in muted colors with a compelling story-like pull. It reads well out loud, so it's a natural for story time. It's fact-based, so it provides a slice of history and fits with Common Core objectives, too-- incorporating bits of song, scripture, and poetry alongside the facts. There's even a teacher's guide with lots of great activities (and skill connections) here at Don's website and another video nugget here and a thorough review hereGeorge Moses Horton was the first African American in the south to be published and his journey is such an inspiring one. 

Kids will enjoy that George is SO resourceful and independent, especially given the constraints of his life as an enslaved person who is separated from his family, too. They will relate to his steps in becoming a reader-- learning letters, plodding through a spelling book, figuring out how to spell and write, getting his first book. They'll be intrigued that he wrote poems in his mind first and then made money writing poems for other people. And they'll bristle at all the obstacles he had to overcome-- being owned by a master who refused to sell him even when George mustered the resources. 

Poet celebrates literacy, poetry, and the human spirit-- a terrific combination-- in an accessible way through story and art. And Horton's poetry is available online at the Poetry Foundation's website, too, for students who might want to follow up. Here are a few slides from Don's presentation about his research for the book and his early sketches. 
And the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina where Don delivered this talk (and where he did some of his research for the book) created a special exhibit of some of the related materials about George Moses Horton. There's a short UNC interview with Don here.

Here's Horton's  second published book, His Poetical Works and a draft of a handwritten poem.

Kirkus gave Poet a starred review: "... a new perspective with remarkable clarity"

School Library Journal also gave it a starred review: "A lovely introduction to an inspirational American poet." 

Don't miss this book for a true story, a beautiful picture book, a celebration of literacy, an African American hero, a slice of history, and an invitation to poetry. 

Now head on over to Robyn's place, Life on the Deckle Edge, for our Poetry Friday fun. 

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18. BOOK LINKS: The Past through Poetry and Picture Books

You probably know that I'm a big fan of ALA's Book Links magazine and have been writing a poetry column for that publication for over a decade now. And now they're celebrating their 25th anniversary. Very cool! Here is a link to the September 2015 issue of Book Links. Click here.

My column this month focuses on poetry and poetic picture books that depict history and biography. I include an annotated list of two dozen wonderful books that are not-to-be-missed. You can read the entire thing here. If you'd just like a taste, here's an excerpt. 

The Past through Poetry and Picture Books
by Sylvia Vardell
A lovely picture book can take us back to special childhood memories, but it is also a carefully crafted work of art with drama in every page turn. And when a picture book melds history and poetry, something unique emerges—a visual glimpse of people and times of the past, shared in powerful images and spare or lyrical language. Here we examine picture books that feature stories or people from history in poems and poetic language. These books offer a dual opportunity: introducing young children to touchstone moments of our human story, as well as invigorating that study of history for older students by using the visuals of the accessible picture book alongside the distilled language of poetry to heighten interest and understanding. The best historical and biographical picture books tend to be focused on one person or specific event; a story that can be told in the span of a few pages with illustrations that provide a visual window into history, portrayed authentically and accurately.
And here are some of the activities I suggest to accompany the books that are cited. (The link provides the Common Core State Standards for each activity, too.)
In the Classroom: Read the poems or story aloud first without illustrations to savor the language. Then, on the second reading, show the illustrations and discuss the differences in the experiences, such as how the poem looks, how it makes readers feel, and how the illustrator visualized each line, stanza, or the entire verse. Invite students to create a homemade book of original illustrations to accompany a favorite poem (one line per page) or the lyrics of a favorite song, or alongside found poems they create based on researching facts and details. This can help introduce young readers to longer, narrative poems or classic works available in picture-book format, such as Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”; “The Owl and the Pussycat,” by Edward Lear; “Casey at the Bat,” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer; and “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (or “’Twas the Night before Christmas”), by Clement Clarke Moore; and others in the Visions in Poetry series.

In the Classroom: Work with students to understand the setting of the book by looking up images for each locale in an atlas, via Google Maps, or other resources. Then challenge young readers to research what was happening in the world during this time, linking with relevant nonfiction picture books, reference works, and online resources. Using museum resources can add so much to children’s learning of historical content and reading of historical literature. Check to see what local history museums or children’s museums might have available where you live. Do they have personnel who can visit the classroom or library? Exhibits or materials they will loan out? It is also possible to access online resources, such as Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibits, featuring topics such as civil rights and Latino life, and “Today’s Document,” available at the National Archives online, which includes a visual image of an actual historical document. Also useful are the American Memory and Today in History projects, which have links at the Library of Congress online, which offers a wealth of information and visuals to supplement historical study.

In the Classroom: Sharing primary source documents, maps, time lines, and artifacts helps children visualize and conceptualize historical times through hands-on materials. Even audio resources can provide a connection with the voices of the past. For example, the American Rhetoric website offers an online speech bank with audio recordings, transcripts, and visuals for more than 5,000 important speeches. When children can hear, see, or touch the “stuff” of history, it becomes so much more real and memorable for them. Check out Jackdaws Publications, for primary-source materials that support the study of many historical eras. For a model of how to use primary sources and “do history” with kids, check out DoHistory, a website that “shows you how to piece together the past from the fragments that have survived.”

In the Classroom: Bring the historical period of a picture book to life through readers’ theater by inviting children to read bits of dialogue or narration aloud, by having them dress up and speak as the historical subject of the book, or by staging more elaborate dramatic skits. Connecting drama with history makes the people and places real to children through first-hand experience, almost like participating in a living history museum. In fact, Carol Otis Hurst provides helpful guidelines for involving children in creating and participating in their own informal living history museums (follow the links at http://carolhurst.com for more information). Another idea is to look for local reenactors who might want to share their experiences. Even local actors who perform in community or professional theater can be recruited as guests to share their insights on costuming, dialect coaching, and character research for historical dramas. Through one of these several avenues, children will be able to find some spark of personal connection with history and poetry.

Now, don't forget to join the rest of the Poetry Friday bloggers who are gathering at Linda's place, TeacherDance. See you there!

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19. Presenting at ILA on TRANSMEDIA

I'm heading to St. Louis for the International Literacy Convention this weekend. Formerly the International Reading Association, this big organization has also moved its annual conference from May to July, so it will be interesting to see the difference. I'm looking forward to seeing friends and presenting alongside Janet Wong, Rose Brock, and Cynthia Alaniz. Originally, Mary Lee Hahn was also supposed to present with us, but she needs to be with her mom-- which we understand completely. We'll miss her!

Our talk is on "transmedia" and how we can use all kinds of media alongside books in print to build literacy (Saturday, July 18, 3-4pm America's Center room 106). We'll be talking about social media, audiobooks, apps, ebooks, videos, games, cards, and more. Very cutting edge! And of course, we'll weave POETRY throughout all this too-- with poetry apps, ebooks, videos, games, etc. Here are just a few nuggets with a sneak preview from my part of our session.

Speaking of new media, Kimberley Moran is hosting Poetry Friday this week over at Google+. That's fun! See you there-- here's the link.

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20. International Day of Friendship

I ran an errand this week and saw that school supplies are already on sale! I was both surprised that stores were already stocking school supplies AND excited to get a great price on new scissors, glue, and spiral notebooks! (I love school supplies even though I don't have young children in school any more.) I thought it might be fun to post a poem from our CELEBRATIONS book that is perfect for an upcoming holiday as well as back-to-school sharing. Did you that July 30 is the International Day of Friendship? That's one of the special occasions that we discovered when we created The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations: Holiday Poems for the Whole Year in English and Spanish (2015). It's a United Nations celebration designed to encourage governments, organizations, and community groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that promote solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation. 

Here's a brand new poem from the CELEBRATIONS book, "How to Make a Friend," by Jane Heitman Healy that's perfect for celebrating this holiday-- and for kicking off a new school year, too-- in English AND Spanish, plus with the Take 5 activities for sharing this poem and linking with picture books and poetry books, too. Enjoy!

Now head on over to Reflections on the Teche where Margaret is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. See you there!

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21. Flashback to the ALA Poetry Blast

Before the summer gets away from me, I wanted to post tiny video clips of the poets reading at the Poetry Blast at the ALA convention in San Francisco in June hosted by Marilyn Singer and Barbara Genco. It's always fun to hear poets read their own work aloud-- I never get tired of that. And if you couldn't join us, this is the next best thing-- if you'll forgive the mediocre skills and equipment here. 

First up: Betsy Franco reading from her brand new book, A Spectacular Selection of Sea Critters (Millbrook Press).

Next, Nikki Grimes read from Poems in the Attic (Lee & Low Books).

Then, Rebecca Kai Dotlich read selections from Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist in collaboration with Jane Yolen (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press).

Marilyn Nelson was next, reading from her memoir, How I Discovered Poetry (Dial).

Alma Flor Ada read an excerpt from Yes! We Are Latinos! co-authored with F. Isabel Campoy (Charlesbridge).

Then, F. Isabel Campoy read from Poesia eres tu (Poetry is You) (Alfaguara). 

Marilyn Singer wrapped it all up by reading a few selections from her book, A Strange Place to Call Home (Chronicle Books).

What a fun way to spend an hour, right? 

If you get to attend the ALA (American Library Association) conference NEXT summer (in Orlando), be sure to put the Poetry Blast on your schedule. It's usually held on Sunday afternoon and it's a wonderful gathering of poets and poetry lovers. See you there!

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22. Poetry on Pinterest

Are you a fan of Pinterest? It's a website that offers a virtual "bulletin board" of visuals that often link to other sites you can learn more (and often buy things). It's an interesting tool for actively collecting images and ideas, particularly for crafts, projects, recipes, events, etc. Very teacher-friendly and also a black hole for losing yourself in a multitude of "pins." 

For poetry, I have found it an interesting source of ideas and inspiration-- and in the spirit of full disclosure, Janet (Wong) and I have used it to share poem "cards" based on our Poetry Friday books (more on that later).  Here are a few links to get you started.

Poetry Quotes
I love quotes about the power of poetry and you'll find many presented visually on Pinterest. Here are two quick examples. When I have time, I hope to add a bunch of my own that I often use for presentations. I think the combination of powerful words and powerful image is really thought-provoking. 

There are also many full-text poems to find on Pinterest too-- which worries me. Just in case you weren't aware, it is NOT okay to post a poem in it's entirety UNLESS you have permission from the poet (and the publisher) to do so or IF the poem is in the public domain. Shel Silverstein's work, for example, is NOT in the public domain, but you can find it online. In our case, Janet and I do secure permission from poets before creating visuals for their poems and sharing them online. Here are two poem examples I found on Pinterest (and I can't vouch for the rights question). I do like the WAY they are presented-- with the page of the book visible in interesting ways.

Teaching Poetry
There are also many ideas for presenting and teaching poetry-- although many are links to materials for purchase. But even simple visuals can be useful. Here are a few examples that I found fun and interesting: fingerprint poetry, found poetry, and a poetry tools graphic.

There are also many great lists of poetry books-- which is so helpful since the COVER of each book is included in each list. Plus, links to poetry performance videos (most available on YouTube, too), and more.  If you've found other poetry resources you love, please let me know. I'm still learning.

The Poetry Friday Anthology series on Pinterest
Meanwhile, please indulge a bit of self-promotion as I share the "boards" we have for our Poetry Friday series here. You'll find nearly 100 full-text poems with accompanying visuals that we have created (with permission of each poet) and provided for you to link or download and use in the classroom, library, or anywhere you want to share a poem with young people. There's a Pinterest "board" for each book-- our K-5, middle school, science, and celebrations anthologies. Here's one sample poem from each book along with a link to the Pinterest "board" for all the poems from each book that are currently posted. Enjoy!

Now head on over to Tabatha's place where she is hosting our Poetry Friday gathering. See you there!

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23. Start joking around!

I once read that children laugh approximately 400 times a day! Adults? Adults laugh about 15 times a day-- not nearly enough since laughter is supposed to be good for the heart, circulation, and stress.  So it's time to share a joke and a chuckle with the kids in your life. Try this poem and these activities from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations to get you started! And if you don't have your copy of this collection ready for the new school year, you can get it here. 

And here are the Take 5 activities for sharing this poem:
  1. Set the stage for this poem in honor of National Tell a Joke Day by telling a favorite joke (e.g., Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide). Then read the poem aloud slowly.
  2. Share the poem again and invite children to say the important final line (Go share your favorite joke!) while you read the rest of the poem aloud.
  3. Check out jokes submitted by children, click for the punch line, and vote on favorites at JokesByKids.com. Encourage children to submit their own jokes, too.
  4. Pair this poem with the picture book Why the Chicken Crossed the Road by Tedd Arnold and others (Dial, 2006). Talk about all the different interpretations of this old joke and work together to draw a new one as a group.
  5. Link with “Laughing” by Cynthia Grady (May, pages 140-141) and with funny poems from If You Were a Chocolate Mustache by J. Patrick Lewis (WordSong/Boyds Mills, 2012) and I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus by Jack Prelutsky (Greenwillow, 2012).
Now head on over to Heidi's Juicy Little Universe for lots more Poetry Friday fun!

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24. Poetry for young people in South Africa

I have been so lucky to be attending the IFLA conference (for libraries and librarians) in Cape Town, South Africa. It's been an opportunity to serve on the standing committee for the Literacy and Reading section, meet colleagues from around the world, and talk with South Africans in several locations about poetry for young people. I also found out that there is a big poetry festival next week in South Africa, the McGregor Poetry Festival. Wish I were going to be here a bit longer to check it out!

First, I visited the people at Enlighten Education Trust in Hermanus (an hour away). They do all kinds of things for kids in the area, including reading programs, music and toy programs, counseling, and more. I spoke with a small group about poetry for young people in the U.S., and particularly my "Poetry Friday" work-- and they loved that notion of sharing poetry on Friday-- and getting kids involved in the (Take 5) process. What a dedicated group!

Then, I spent the morning with the people at PRAESA, a group dedicated to book promotion and literacy development-- especially their joyous Nal'ibali reading club. Once again, I talked about what Janet (Wong) and our beloved poets are doing to make poetry available and accessible to young people-- in ways that are participatory and developmental. What a fun group!

Finally, I loved being with Jean Williams (who arranged ALL the previous visits) and the lovely IBBY-SA visitors at Biblionef. There were teachers, authors, and literacy advocates-- all with great questions and ideas. Here, I presented about a dozen U.S. books of poetry, read bunches of poems aloud, and shared our PFA books and approaches too (complete with Pocket Poem cards and postcards which were a big hit!). What a creative group!

I was also able to buy a few books of poetry at an area bookstore-- and wish I had time to explore more. I picked up an ABC and a nursery rhyme collection-- both with an African theme-- clearly for tourists, but very fun, engaging, and informative. There were two poem collections in Afrikaans that looked like delicious nonsense, but I couldn't read them, of course. And I didn't find titles in any of the other 10 languages of this country and I was told there were very few. There's a rich tradition of songs and poem chanting, but not poetry publishing-- but each audience told me they were inspired to pursue this further. I hope so! I tried to make a case for how this special genre has some unique things to offer and every child deserved a chance to hear, read, and write poetry!

Meanwhile, I feel so privileged to have this interaction with so many different people committed to books, literacy, and empowerment for children and young people. Inspiring! 

P.S. Plus, I saw, bought, and ate my first pomelo! (The fruit that Pomelo Books is named after.) And it's delicious! (Like a grapefruit, but much sweeter!)
Now, don't miss the Poetry Friday fun over at Reading to the Core

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25. Welcome to the Poetry Friday Neighborhood

I just returned from Cape Town, South Africa, where I attended the IFLA conference (for librarians worldwide) and had the opportunity to do several talks about poetry in a variety of locales (including for the newspaper and national radio). One thing that was universally popular was the whole idea of Poetry FRIDAY! The idea of pausing for poetry at the end of the week just grabbed everyone across the board. And I just love that! So here we are celebrating another Poetry Friday. Welcome, everyone!

Here's a poem that I shared several times that was a always a big hit-- along with the "Take 5" activities for introducing and sharing this poem, "Welcome" by Linda Kulp Trout. It's from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, of course! And all these images are available on Pinterest, too.

And if you'd like to share the poem in Spanish, here is "Bienvenido" too.

Now you're all set for celebrating Good Neighbor Day next month (on September 28). Meanwhile, dear poetry neighbors, please add your link to your Poetry Friday post this week below. 

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