Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Poetry Friday: “My Book Report”

I thought I’d go waaaaay back in time for today’s post – back to the fall of 2000!

poetryfridaybutton-fulllThis is one of the first few children’s poems I ever wrote (I started writing for children in ’99, I believe), but when I read it today, it doesn’t feel that old, if that makes sense.  Sometimes when you’re developing a skill – whether it’s writing, singing, painting, whatever – you can tell the older, unskilled work from the newer, more polished stuff.  Personally, I can tell it’s not new…but I’m not embarrassed by it, either (and yes, there are plenty of poems that will never see the light of day for that very reason).

Since the school year is winding down and graduations are ubiquitous these days, I thought a little school-themed poetry might be nice. Hope you like it! And for all of today’s Poetry Friday offerings – including some delicious Mango Bread and a poem by Lesléa Newman – visit Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup!

“Book Report”

My teacher said I have to write
a book report for class -
at least one hundred-fifty words,
or else I will not pass.

So here I sit with pen in hand
and nothing in my mind;
if I don’t get this handed in
I’ll be in quite a bind.

There must be some creative way
I can begin the text:
I know my name, I know the date,
I don’t know what comes next.

Come on, now, brain, you’ve got to think
and help me get this done!
It’s due tomorrow morning, and
I’ve not even begun!

But wait – that’s it – I’ve got it now!
I know just what I need!
The first thing that I’ll have to do…
is find a book to read.

- © 2000, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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31 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “My Book Report”

  1. Pingback: the poetry friday roundup is here! | Jama's Alphabet Soup

  2. Very nice! But in my experience, he’d have to find a book he’d already read, since the book report’s due tomorrow morning, and he’d been playing video games for the last two weeks instead of planning ahead. (God help me… I sound like such a mom!)

    • You know? That’s what I would often do when I was in school (well, minus the videogames)! If we could pick the book to write about, I’d pick one I’d already read!

  3. If I were a teacher I’d give “poem reports” as an assignment.

  4. Too fun – I especially love these lines:

    “I know my name, I know the date,
    I don’t know what comes next.”

    Ha! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Fun poem that lots of kids can probably relate to . . . I would be thinking — maybe I should watch the movie version of something if I can’t think of a book I’d already read :).

    • I often wrote reports on books I never read! I enjoyed reading…but having to do a report on it made it feel like work, so I’d often find a book, skim through it to pull out a few choice lines or subjects, then put the book report together…and I usually got As & Bs!

  6. I think he’ll get carried away in a book and not do it. Great poem!

  7. Very funny ending.

  8. I know my name, I know the date,
    I don’t know what comes next.
    This made me laugh…just the words some of my sixth graders must mull over so very often in the school year.

  9. What a fun, very kid-friendly poem! I think they’d love the topic and the rhythm. I also laughed aloud at “I know my name, I know the date/I don’t know what comes next.”

  10. Fun poem Matt. Are you sure the report couldn’t be written on a movie? Many of those come from books. That’s what I used to do.

  11. I love the punch line, Matt! Do they still publish “Cliff Notes”? They saved me a time or two in high school…shhh, don’t tell. =)

  12. Thank you all! Joy, I think it’d be funny if the book report included a scene that was only in the movie, not the book – ha, dead giveaway! And Bridget, I don’t know if they still publish Cliff’s Notes…but I know a bunch of my college friends who survived on them.

  13. Janet F. on said:

    I am happy to say I “created” book-lovers and poetry-lovers as a teacher and never assigned a book report or required a kid to memorize a poem on his/her own to recite to the class. Does not need to be done. Yes, we need to find a way to be sure kids are reading books, but….book reports R not US! I wonder if we can find anyone who can honestly tell us about loving all the book reports they had to write as a kid…..So….loved your poem, Matt. An oldie but goodie….and one I think kids might relate, too. I think the questions need to be along these lines, “what are you reading and what made you choose your book?” then “will you recommend this to others, if so, who?” I highly recommend the work of Donalynn Miller The Book Whisperer) and Nancie Atwell (The Reading Zone) to find out about successful reading methods which don’t need book reports!

  14. Fun poem, Matt! I like the surprise ending.

  15. My students would love this one. Personally, I’d be happy that you read the book instead of looking for a summary online! And I agree with Janet that there are much better methods than book reports.

  16. Hehe – nice twist ending. Even though I did well in school, every book report and term paper I ever had to write was turned in late. Still have ‘em, too – a big pile with frustrated red notes like “This would have gotten an A instead of a C if you’d turned it in on time!”

    As a teacher, I never assigned a book report. I think (hope) they are a thing of the past by now.

    Fun poem, Matt — really brings back memories. :)

    • I wonder if your students knew how nice a teacher you were, not assigning book reports? Did other teachers assign them?

      • No, I worked in a school for the gifted, so book reports in the true sense of the word just weren’t done. Starting in seventh grade, we taught FLEs and PLEs (formal literary essays / personal literary essays). My assignments always included a creative component along with the essay, usually a choice of visual, written, or performing arts that ran the gamut from oil paintings and skits to creating a board game about the book (one ninth-grader did an amazing board game for CATCHER IN THE RYE). Never gave tests or quizzes either. They never made sense for English class, so all my assignments were project-based.

      • “Never gave tests or quizzes.” Gee, I wish I had been gifted!

  17. maryleehahn on said:

    You could probably post this again in August…for all the students who wait until the last minute to do their summer reading assignments!

    • Janet F. on said:

      Mary Lee,
      I would be curious to know if you assign summer reading in Dublin and if so, how do you do it? Maybe I will see this on YOUR blog. Don’t ask too many questions about mine. Maybe I should just start and call it the “unblog” if I don’t post regularly! Ha!

  18. That is really a fun poem. Thank you for the post.

  19. Pingback: Poetry Friday: “Growing Greens” | Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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