I am back from our local SCBWI chapter’s annual spring conference (my wrap-up will be forthcoming next week), and although I’m currently spending time with two exes – ex-hilarated and ex-hausted – I could not let National Poetry Month go by without including some more student poetry…this time, from across the Pond!
Early this year, I chatted via Skype with a group of fifth-grade students at a middle school in Redditch, England about poetry and writing in general. Before we wrapped up, I suggested to them that they think about something they really love or enjoy and write something about that. After all, the first step in writing a poem is understanding your subject, so this was an easy way to get them into it. They could write list poems, non-rhyming, anything – I just wanted them to get their thoughts on paper.
I had no idea what they were about to do!
Their teacher, Oliver Cooke (aka, Olly) contacted me a couple of months later and told me that – as a way to help encourage some of the students who struggle with literacy – they were asked to write poems about things they love, and that Olly would send me some of them. They jumped into it! I’ll let Olly explain, in his words:
“They were very, very excited at the prospect of a real poet reading their work and even the small possibility that you would post it on your blog. This has inspired them to write poetry and they have engaged really well!”
Well, if posting their work on my blog is going to inspire them to write and become more engaged, I suppose I’d better post their work, shouldn’t I?? (click on any of them to enlarge)
Hmmm…I think what we can deduce here is that most students love a) summer; b) springtime; and c) football (soccer). Odd, no mention of algebra. I think my favorite is the “Gymtime” poem on the bottom left corner; the writer has a nice sense of rhythm and wordplay, and the “time line” / “limp time” rhyme – while not a perfect rhyme – makes the poem sing! And most importantly, it provides a nice way to end the poem.
If you’re a teacher or educator, you should know I never try to get students who are just learning poetry to rhyme. They’ve heard nursery rhymes, read rhyming picture books, listened to songs…they’re already familiar with it! I prefer helping them to understand their subject: thinking about it, studying it, considering connections one can make to it. I’d rather have a thoughtful poem borne of reflection, introspection, or juxtaposition than a poem that simply rhymes. Meter, rhyme, form – all that can come later.
Also remember my mantra: #WriteLikeNoOneIsReading! Don’t worry about what others might say – just write! Yes, in school you have to be proper with your grammar and syntax and conjugation and sentence structure and all that hullabaloo…but writing can be a great deal of fun when you don’t worry about all those rules and just write for yourself. A time and place for everything, as they say.
A huge THANK YOU to Olly, his colleague, teacher Emma Horsley, and their students for sending these to me! Keep up the great work, and I hope to chat with you all again.
Oh, and speaking of “times” and “places”…
Don’t Ask a Dinosaur officially debuted this past Tue. with a GIVEAWAY you can still enter!
Meanwhile, The Dinosaur Tour blog tour rolls on! Several kidlit bloggers are sharing DAAD reviews, interviews, and contests this month and next. Here’s a list of all the bloggers participating:
April 6: Michelle H. Barnes (Interview w/month-long writing prompt)
April 8: Kate Narita (Book trailer & activity sheet spotlight)
April 11: Deborah Kalb (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
April 13: Yours Truly! (Interview w/illustrator Louie Chin)
April 16: KidLit Exchange (Blog post re: process of illustration)
April 17: Momma’s Bacon (DAAD review)
April 17: Yours Truly!
April 18: Bonnie Ferrante (DAAD review)
April 19: KidLit Exchange (DAAD review)
April 19: Brenda Davis Harsham (DAAD micro review)
TOMORROW: Bonnie Ferrante (Interview w/Matt & Deb)
May 2: Unleashing Readers (DAAD review)
May 30: Bookseedstudio (DAAD review/interview)
I hope you’ll stop by these blogs and learn something new about our book!
“DON’T ASK A DINOSAUR”
is now available everywhere!
Where will we be? When will we be there? Funny you should ask:
- Thur., April 26, 10:30am: Pillsbury Free Library, Warner, NH, Dinosaur Storytime with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People!
- Sat., April 28, 10:30am: Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
- Sat., April 28, 2pm: Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur reading/signing (with Sara Levine, Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones reading/signing)
- Sun., April 29, 2pm: MainStreet BookEnds, Warner, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing and discussion
- Sat., May 5, 10am: Barnes & Noble, Burlington, MA, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
- Sat., May 5, 1pm: Barnes & Noble, Nashua, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and Flashlight Night reading/signing
- Sat., May 12, 11am: Gibson’s Bookstore, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
- Wed., May 15, 12pm: Concord Hospital Gift Shop, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People signing
- Sat., May 19, 11:30am-3pm: Barnes & Noble, Salem, NH, National Storytime at 11am, followed by Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
- Sat., June 2, 1-3pm: Books-A-Million, Concord, NH, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur and School People reading/signing
The 2018 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem!
A little seed is on an adventure…the 2018 Progressive Poem is underway! Here’s the list of all the writers/bloggers participating, so you can follow along:
April 1 Liz at Elizabeth Steinglass
2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
3 Laura at Writing the World for Kids
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
5 Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
9 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
10 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
14 Heidi at my juicy little universe
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
17 Ruth at There is no such thing as a Godforsaken town
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
22 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
25 Kiesha at Whispers from the Ridge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
29 April at Teaching Authors
30 Doraine at Dori Reads
Thank you so much to all the librarians, bloggers, and parents who are still discovering “Flashlight Night!”
- NY Public Library’s “100 Best Book for Kids 2017” AND “Staff Pick!”
- KIRKUS Starred review!
- Amazon “Best Books of the Month,” Sept. 2017!
- “Best Reads of 2017,” Unleashing Readers
Purchasing personalized signed copies ONLINE? Yes, it’s true!
I’ve teamed up with the good folks MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH to present an option for people who would love to have a signed copy of one of my books but don’t live anywhere near me. MainStreet BookEnds has ALL but one of my books available for ordering…and the best part is, you can get them personalized!
Just log onto my website and click the cover of whichever book you want, and they will get it to me to sign and send it off to you. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)