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Multimedia Bibliography- Children Writing Poetry

Many adults know how difficult it is to get some children to read poetry, but what about writing it?  What resources are available for that adult trying to help a child complete an English assignment, or just develop a deeper appreciation of poetry?  The intent of this multimedia bibliography is to be a guide for adults working with school age children and provide some tools that can help when a child wants to write his or her own poem.  While the main topic of this guide is helping children write poetry, many teachers and poets have pointed out that an appreciation of poetry comes from just being exposed to it—hearing it, speaking it, reading it, and writing it.  For that reason, this guide will also include some resources that are simply related to poetry, not necessarily being about writing poetry.

Books

Behn, Robin, and Chase Twichell, eds. The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises From Poets Who Teach. 296p. CollinsReference, 1992.

This book of poetry writing exercises is described by Norton as giving “strong reasons for using poetry writing exercises with anyone who wants to improve his or her writing,” and Norton also states that it is a good source to use for elementary and middle grades.  There are exercises to help with “understanding of language and abstract thoughts,” “enhance the visualization of images in a poem,” and “poetry writing exercises associated with photography” (Donna E. Norton, Through the Eyes of a Child).

Dunning, Stephen, and William Stafford. Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises. 203p. National Council of Teachers of English, 1992.

Norton calls this book an “excellent source of ideas and suggestions for exercises in poetry writing…Each of the exercises includes an introduction, steps to follow, and examples of poems that were written using the writing exercise” (Donna E. Norton, Through the Eyes of a Child).

Fletcher, Ralph. Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem From the Inside Out. 160p. HarperTrophy, 2002.

TeachingBooks.net lists Poetry Matters as a resource for teachers when working with children on writing poetry.  Fletcher has split the book into two parts—Lighting the Flame and Nurturing the Spark.  He talks about the importance of poetry, and gives the reader practical ways to start writing poetry, such as keep it short and use your senses to capture the world around you.  Fletcher also goes into playing with the words and some of the technicalities of poetry.  This book is a good, brief source that covers many aspects of writing poetry.

Janeczko, Paul B. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Illus. by Chris Raschka. 64p. Candlewick, 2009.

Earning a starred review in Booklist, the reviewer describes A Kick in the Head as an “excellent selection [that] easily mixes works by Shakespeare and William Blake with entries from contemporary poets for youth, including Janeczko.” This guide contains brief explanations of the poem form, an introduction, and appended notes.  “This is the introduction that will ignite enthusiasm. The airy spaces between the words and images will invite readers to find their own responses to the poems and encourage their interest in the underlying rules, which, Janeczko says, ‘make poetry–like sports–more fun’” (Gillian Engberg, Booklist).

Livingston, Myra Cohn. Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry.

One way to make children more comfortable with poetry is by speaking to them about it in an appropriate tone, not talking down to them.  Livingston “doesn’t condescend to her audience by skimping on the complexities; she gives the real concepts and terminology.”  The reviewer goes on to say that “like a provocative poem, the book leaves readers without a neatly wrapped conclusion–the better, perhaps, to continue their own thoughts. An inspiring introduction to a notably thorny but potentially rewarding topic” (Kirkus Reviews).

Minden, Cecilia, and Kate Roth. How to Write a Poem.

For the younger generation of budding poets, How to Write a Poem provides “general pointers…[and demonstrates] how to write several types of poetry.”  This source would be good to have on hand as it “well-organized,” “[features] an attractive layout,” and is “approachable” (Jackie Partch, School Library Journal).

Mussari, Mark. The Craft of Writing: Poetry. 95p. Marshall Cavendish/Benchmark, 2011.

This book is targeted toward an older audience, such as grade 6 and up, but might be good to peruse before helping younger children write poetry.  “This series has a lot more to it than just steps on how to write,” such as the history of poetry, terminology, formatting, and full texts of poems.  The book also “walks aspiring writers through the creation process, using old as well as contemporary literary examples” (Kari Allen, School Library Journal).

Raczka, Bob. Lemonade, and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word. Illus. by Nancy Doniger. Roaring Brook Press, 2011.

Lemonade is listed as a 2012 Notable Children’s Book by ALSC, as well as many favorable reviews by publications such as School Library Journal and Hornbook.  The Notable Children’s Book Committee describes the book as follows: “Think of a word, then compose a poem using only the letters in that word.  Amusing challenges for poet and reader alike, these poem-puzzles are illustrated with similarly playful brush-paintings.  Great fun for classroom or budding poets” ( 2012 Notable Children’s Book Committee, ALSC).

Salas, Laura Purdie. Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing. 32p. Capstone Press, 2011.

When trying to write a poem, all a student may need is a little inspiration.  Picture Yourself Writing Poetry is “short, bright, and bold…filled with colorful photographs and writing prompts.”  Using pictures may be the key to some children finding the words to write.  This resource is “visually stimulating and written with a strong voice…[and] will help any child embark on a creative adventure” (Kari Allen, School Library Journal).

Sierra, Judy. Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. Illus. by Melissa Sweet.31p. Knopf, 2005.

One way to develop a love of poetry is by just having fun with it.  Schoolyard Rhymes is one way to have fun with rhymes while playing games during recess.  “Sierra has selected some of the funniest and most memorable schoolyard rhymes available in this appealing collection…The rhythms and nonsense rhymes are irresistible, compelling memorization and participation in the fun” (Lee Bock, School Library Journal).

Audiobook

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. 16 min. 18 sec. CD/Book. Live Oak Media.

Wordplay is a way to encourage children and their experimentation with poetry.  The audio recording of Mirror Mirror gives kids a chance to hear some wordplay at work “Marilyn Singer and Joe Morton bring exuberance, humor and point of view to familiar fairy tales in 14 reverso poems” (2012 Notable Children’s Recordings Committee, ALSC).

Video

A Child’s Garden of Poetry. 27 min. Warner Home Video, DVD.

This video is another format that an adult can use when trying to help children develop a love of poetry before attempting to write a poem.  The 2012 Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee describes the Video as follows: “Children of all ages convey their passion for poetry and what it means to them. Well-known actors and poets recite a broad range of poems, complemented with beautiful animation and artwork” (2012 Carnegie Medal/Notable Children’s Videos Committee, ALSC).

Websites

Amazing Kids! Magazine. http://mag.amazing-kids.org/

This online magazine is created by kids for kids.  The intent is to encourage children to write and then share their writing in a place where their peers are also sharing.  There is even a section for the poetry that kids have written.  Guidelines for submitting to the magazine can be found on the website.

Education World: The Educator’s Best Friend. “April is Poetry Month!” http://www.educationworld.com/a_special/poetrymonth.shtml

This site not only includes resources and lesson plans on poetry, but also lessons on having children write poetry.  Some of the lessons for writing poetry are themed, such as Halloween, some are by type of poem, such as Haiku and Italian sonnet, and there is even one lesson on helping students with their creative powers.

Favorite Poem Project: Americans Saying Poems They Love. http://www.favoritepoem.org/

Before writing poetry, a student needs to develop an appreciation of poetry.  One way to do this is by listening to poems being read.  Favorite Poem Project is a site that contains about 50 short videos of everyday Americans reading a poem and talking about why they love it and how it relates to their own lives.

Kenn Nesbitt’s Poetry4kids.org. http://www.poetry4kids.com/
Kenn Nesbitt writes humorous poems for kids and his website provides many activities for kids to explore.  One of the highlights of his sight is the poetry lessons for children who want to write their own silly poems.  The lessons range from writing a poem to the form of the poem.  Nesbitt also provides a video for a lesson on how to rhyme. A few other special features of his sight include a rhyming dictionary, poetry discussion forums, and poetry writing contests.

Poets.org: From the Academy of American Poets. http://www.poets.org/index.php

This site is full of many resources with regards to poetry.  The useful feature for this guide is the page on “National Poetry Month.”  It includes links such as ‘30 ways to celebrate’, ‘Poem a day’, and quite a few other links that would be helpful all year round.  Another page that might be of interest if working with older students is “Poetry Resources for Teens.”

ReadWriteThink. http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/shared-writing-30686.html

Read Write Think is sponsored by the NCTE and includes many resources for classroom lessons and professional development.  One of the more helpful features of this site with regards to children writing poetry is found under Classroom Resources and Student Interactives.  Listed there are seven resources for writing poetry.  This site also includes lesson plans on poetry and a professional development strategy guide on performing poetry.

Rhyme Zone.  http://www.rhymezone.com/
This site was listed in the Great Websites for Children as posted by ALSC.  Rhyme Zone is an online dictionary that will help children when they are trying to come up with rhymes for their own poems.
Scholastic. “Write It: Poetry.” http://teacher.scholastic.com/writeit/poetry/

Scholastic has set up what they refer to as a writing workshop for students writing poetry.  This online resource goes through the steps of writing—brainstorm, draft, review, revise, polish, publish—and has information for each step for students to explore and utilize as they write their own poetry.

Shel Silverstein.com. http://www.shelsilverstein.com/indexSite.html.

Shel Silverstein is a beloved children’s poet who has quite an interactive site.  Under the section titled ‘Shel’s Books’ you can watch animations to some of his poems.  There is also a section for resources for teachers and parents. And another section of his website is a place for kids to just have fun.  Silverstein understands the importance of having a child first develop a love of poetry before trying to learn all the techniques and terms.

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