April Is Poetry Month
April 02, 2013
Students tend to turn up their noses at the idea of poetry. Their experiences are limited to Hallmark cards and trite rhymes. And, they don’t think they have what it takes to write something others would want to read or something that could be published.
That changed when I was teaching middle school. I shared some of my favorite writers of poetry. One of those was Jack Prelutsky. Mr. Prelutsky has been writing for more than 40 years. In 2006, he was named the first Children’s Poet Laureate in the United States. There are many of his books in the MCPL system.
While putting away nonfiction, I found a "how to" book by Mr. Prelutsky. It was called Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem. He suggested that you carry a notebook at all times and write down your ideas. Another suggestion was to make lists about an object or event. Nothing was off limits, and things familiar to you were easier to write about. Mr. Prelutsky gave several examples of poems he wrote, from the beginning idea to the finished product. He exaggerated to keep the poem upbeat and humorous.
I found some of his books in the Juvenile Easy section. Dog Days had a rhyme for each month of the year. Behold the Bold Ubrellaphant and Other Poems had collage pictures of animals. The Ballpoint Penguins,The Pop-up Toadsters, and Me, I Am! are other JE examples.
If you’re interested in a collection of poems, try looking in the 811.54 P section of Juvenile Nonfiction. There I found Something Big Has Been Here and The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders. One book in particular caught my eye, Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face and Other Poems. It includes activities at the end of each of its five sections and a bonus CD. The illustrations in Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face and Other Poems were by Brandon Dorman. They were very colorful and grabbed my attention. Wouldn’t that one be a great starting point for homeschoolers?
But my favorite Prelutsky book is Awful Ogre’s Awful Day. That one, in particular, dispels the notion that all poetry is nice and sweet. On the contrary, I think boys would especially like the scary animal pictures of rattlesnakes, leeches, rats, and maggots.
So, if you’re browsing the shelves on a Saturday afternoon, pick up a book of poetry and settle onto the comfortable seating area. Reading a poem or two or three is sure to make you smile and brighten up your day.