Poetry Friday: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

As I mentioned in this past Tuesday’s post, several children’s authors and illustrators are offering readalouds, drawing lessons, activity sheets, and other educational resources for kids, parents, and teachers who now find themselves “remote learning.”

For my part, I’m producing a series of short videos on poetry: how to write it, how to appreciate it while reading, and some tips on poetry-related activities. Since so many of my peers are doing video chats with students, I thought I would focus my “Wit & Wordplay” videos, as I call them, on parents and educators.

For some time now I’ve been wanting to help my educator and parent friends with some educational videos…but I’ll admit these have been hastily put together, as I am trying to assist my kids with this “new normal” of home-schooling while attempting to write and do my voiceover work. Moreover, I’m working with a video editing program I’ve never used before, as I had to reinstall Windows about a month ago and lost the program I had been using (MS Movie Maker), which is apparently no longer available!

Lake, the newest member of the family!

Oh, and did I mention we have a 10-week-old Great Dane puppy?

So, yeah…I’ve been a bit busy.

The fact I was able to create six videos in two days is still surprising to me, but I have plenty more I plan on producing over the weekend. For today, I wanted to share a couple of simple spine poetry examples I use in my most recent video. Spine poetry is a form of “found poetry,” whereby you search through books’ spines to find titles you think might go together to create a phrase, scene or thought:

There’s a cow in the road!
Deadly animals
wild in the streets…
choose your path.

Again, it doesn’t need to be long – a few titles are all you need! Even two books would suffice:

You get the idea! Silly, thoughtful, scary…doesn’t matter! The important thing is that kids are learning how to put disparate thoughts together (a book about deadly animals together with Star Wars®? Whoulda thunk??)

You can see more spine poetry examples on my YouTube channel. And if you think any of this information might be useful for someone you know or a school near you, I hope you’ll share.

In addition to these videos, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website. The list of all the authors & illustrators who are participating in this national effort is a long one, so here are a few lists you can use to find out who’s doing what:

Let’s Keep Reading!



Laura Shovan’s #WriteAnAuthor

And since today is Poetry Friday, you might want to find more poetry posts…so just head on over to MoreArt4All, where Michelle Kogan is hosting Poetry Friday and welcoming Spring with a variety of poems written by her and several others in the PF community!


Pre-orders are available now!

In stores Aug. 18, 2020!

I’ve teamed up with several other children’s authors to promote our upcoming books this year! And there are a LOT of them, too – including SEVEN in March!


Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

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30 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Spine poetry as a fun activity kids won’t realize is educational!

  1. Linda Mitchell

    Wonderful, Matt! Your generosity and the generosity of kidlit writers just makes my heart sing. My school librarian buddies and I have been busily curating lists of websites/descriptions/age levels for when we all begin remote review/reinforcement next week. Thanks again for being there for all of us.


  2. Matt: I tried to send a photo of this, but my phone camera keeps going dead. (Anyone else have that problem?) Anyway… I love the idea for spine poetry and put this one together:
    News of the World (Paulette Jiles)
    Woe is I (Patricia O’Connor)
    Thanks for the idea and all your video work. I’ll point my grands your way… Take care.


  3. lindabaie

    Oh I used to do spine poetry with my students & it is so much fun! However, it’s also ‘make work’ with the library organization! How great that you’re making & sharing videos, Matt. Everyone doing this is a wonderful thing for kids at home. Thank you!


  4. Joyce Ray

    I love spine poems. Great idea for your video. Thanks for the lists of authors and artists helping by providing activities to promote literacy!


  5. Matt, it is so wonderful that many authors are offering to add to resources for remote learning. Thank you for sharing your spine poetry. It is a fun activity for students and adults too. I look forward to your new resources.


  6. Kay Mcgriff

    In the midst of all the scary things happening, it has been such a blessing to see the generosity offered by so many. Thank you for your contributions. I have two college kids homeschooling with me, but they might enjoy a distraction with spine poetry. I loved doing spine poetry with my middle schoolers when I taught.


  7. Janet F.

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for all of this. I have never had a great time with Spine Poetry but I am going to try. I certainly have a wealth of books and you have encouraged me. I think your videos will be a hit and I look forward to seeing them. Take care and keep writing!!


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