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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.


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). Read more…

Multimedia Bibliography – Titanic


I compiled this bibliographic resource for use by educators, particularly middle grade teachers and school librarians, who wish to present students with an instructional unit on the historical aspects of the Titanic sinking of 1912. The materials selected for this bibliography are suitable for middle grade students (grades 3-6). However, certain materials listed are also acceptable for students as young as the second grade, including the picture books Polar the Titanic Bear and Titanicat. I opted to include these picture books to accommodate younger readers or readers with low reading comprehension skills.

In compiling these resources, I visited several branches of the Austin Public Library to peruse their collections of juvenile materials relating to the Titanic. I also consulted the School Library Journal, which offers reviews of several seminal children’s works about the Titanic sinking. Ultimately, I selected five books which provide insight into varying aspects of the Titanic’s history. A school librarian could use these five books to create a Titanic display for students at a variety of reading levels who are interested in learning more about the Titanic, whetherfor a report, for pleasure, or for both.

Furthermore, I also utilized the internet to locate websites and videos which usefully underpin the books I selected. The “ALSC’s Great Websites for Kids” list provided me with one particularly useful website on the Titanic called “Titanic Destination…Cyberspace.” I also discovered that reputable websites like the History Channel website and the Discovery Channel website have digital content suitable for middle grade students and younger. Having personally visited several Titanic exhibits, I was also aware of several great community resources available for students in the state of Texas. I also chose to include potential field trips, realia, and games in this bibliography because of the value of immersive, experiential learning.


Brewster, Hugh. Illustrated by Ken Marschall. Inside the Titanic (A Giant Cutaway Book). Little, Brown & Company, 1997.

Illustrated by one of the foremost Titanic authorities, this book realistically depicts the experiences of two children who sailed aboard the Titanic in 1912. Impressively sized and richly illustrated, this book will immerse even very young readers in the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage. The “cutaway” nature of the book’s illustrations allows readers to “explore” the Titanic in a literal way. Readers can view the interior of each deck in vivid detail, from the first-class cabins to the steerage compartments. When presenting a unit on the Titanic, this resource will attract reluctant readers who are turned off by text-heavy books.

Crisp, Marty. Titanticat. Illustrated by Robert Papp. Sleeping Bear Press, 2011.

Jim Mulholland is a cabin boy aboard the Titanic. As the ship prepares for its maiden voyage, Jim is tasked with taking care of the ship’s cat, whom he dubs 401. What follows is a fictionalized version of true events, providing a lighthearted perspective on a usually somber subject. Young readers will delight in this beautifully-illustrated picture book and the whimsical, slightly mysterious story it tells. Rendered in oil on canvas, the cover of this book will add visual appeal to any displays created about the Titanic.

Kentley, Eric. Illustrated by Steven Noon. Story of the Titanic. DK, 2012.

This beautifully-illustrated book tells the story of the Titanic from start to finish. Beginning with the construction of the Titanic in Belfast and concluding with the inevitable legal inquiry which followed her sinking, no detail is spared in describing this important historical event. In addition to key facts, Noon’s artwork includes highly-detailed illustrations, cutaway views, archival and photos. As an oversized book, Story of the Titanic provides more visual detail than the average Titanic book aimed at children, making it an essential addition to any library or classroom collection. Read more…

Multimedia Bibliography: Trailblazing American Women

By Kathryn Benson


This bibliography is intended as a tool for public librarians seeking to grow their collection of women’s history resources for middle grade and early teen patrons. This bibliography puts particular attention on fields where men are typically celebrated and women overlooked: those of science, civil rights, combat, and aviation. In building this bibliography, I consulted resources such as the Odyssey Audio Book Award and ALSC’s Great Websites for Kids list. However, I had trouble finding items that would adhere to this bibliography’s project on mainstream media awards lists, so I also sought out suggestions by book bloggers and considered GoodReads reviews in the course of making my suggestions.

General Resources:

Discovering American Women’s History Online. http://digital.mtsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/women. Website.

This history site allows students to browse its collection of articles and links by subject, state, time period, and primary source type. Though the website’s interface is a bit dated, the information is still solid–it just needs a facelift. The site is an index of women’s history resources and archives throughout the web, and most searches compile a list of links that will lead to sites hosted by other libraries and universities. This resource would be most helpful for a middle or high-schooler undertaking an in-depth research project, whether for school or because of personal interest. Because of the site’s clunky interface, the student may require help navigating its bountiful resources.

Distinguished Women of Past and Present. http://www.distinguishedwomen.com/.  Website.

At this website, again, an outdated interfaces hides a wealth of valuable information and resources. Visitors can browse by subject or search for women’s profiles by name. The subject list is long, and the amount of women included is impressive. The profile for each woman is short, but it includes important links to other resources on the web, making this site a good starting point for students undertaking research projects. The interface at this site is slightly more user-friendly than ‘Discovering American Women’s History Online,’ making this a good site for middle- to high-school-aged patrons to navigate on their own.

The Library of Congress, American Memory: Women’s History. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/browse/ListSome.php?category=Women’s%20History. Website.

There are seven collections grouped under “Women’s History” in the Library of Congress website, and this site includes portals to four different collections related to the suffrage movement, a collection of broadsides and ephemera, a collection of manuscripts, and a general multi-format women’s history collection. This general multi-format collection is a good gateway for young researchers, although children may require assistance in navigating the somewhat-confusing Library of Congress Interface. Once that is conquered, however, there is a wealth of primary source material here, and for young users especially the photographic archives will be especially fascinating, since they offer a peek into a very different time in America’s history.

Women in World History. http://www.womeninworldhistory.com/. Website. 

This site for teachers and students provides a good starting point for research as well as a great resource for teachers searching for curriculum guides for women’s history lessons. The site offers thematic units built around such concepts as “Women of Courage” and “Women’s Ways to Connect Across Cultural Borders.” The site also includes biographies of female heroes and rulers, ranging from Shagrat Al-Durr to Anna Comnena. This is another site that could benefit from a digital update, but the information housed here is still sound and valuable.

Krull, Kathleen. Lives of Extraordinary Women. Audio Bookshelf, 2001. Audiobook on CD. 2hr.

This audiobook covers the lives of 20 extraordinary women who influenced history, ranging from Wilma Mankiller to Jeanette Rankin to Cleopatra to Joan of Arc. A well-rounded profile of each woman’s life is provided, highlighting the bad as well as the good, and presenting each historical figure as a complex and fully realized individual. The women covered range from politicans to adventurers and explorers to activists. This would be an excellent starting-point text to read or listen to in celebration of Women’s History Month, or at any time of the year. Read more…

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