We Are the Future

We Are the Future
We Are the Future: Poems with a Voice for Peace is impossible to read without being deeply moved by the open hearts and minds of refugee and immigrant youth in the Seattle area, guided by poets and teachers Merna Hecht and Carrie Stradley.

Reading Mary Oliver with Kids

Mary Oliver Devotions
Sun­day morn­ings find me on zoom with a gath­er­ing of kids ages 3 – 10. We call this time Songs & Sto­ries. It is a high­light in my week. They come in their paja­mas, often eat­ing break­fast, and usu­al­ly with some “stuffies” they want to intro­duce to the group. They are full of ener­gy and good cheer.
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In the Neighborhood of Eloise Greenfield

The Great Migration: Journey to the North
Eloise Green­field In this sea­son of gift-giv­ing we want to look at the gift of poet­ry, specif­i­cal­ly the poet­ry and writ­ing of Eloise Green­field. Since pub­lish­ing her first poem in 1962, she has writ­ten more than forty-five books for chil­dren and was the recip­i­ent of the 2018 Coret­ta Scott King Vir­ginia Hamil­ton Award for Life­time Achieve­ment.
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Where She Went

Lisa Bullard. Photo by Katherine Warde
I love book spine poet­ry, and it’s a great way to get young writ­ers to engage with both books and poet­ry-writ­ing. Check out your own shelves and see what sto­ries emerge. Here are some of my own efforts to show you how easy it can be. Where She Went Look­ing for Alaska 
Chas­ing Vermeer 
Track­ing dad­dy down 
Look­ing for Alibrandi
In search of Mockingbird
Where the kiss­ing nev­er stops Reality check Real­i­ty check:
Don’t you know there’s a war on?… more

Aimée Bissonette

A few days ago, I scanned my many book­shelves in antic­i­pa­tion of writ­ing this piece. My charge was to assem­ble a small stack of books that had sig­nif­i­cance to me.  Per­haps, I thought, I’ll write about my love for mys­ter­ies. After all, I spent count­less hours as a young girl devour­ing the Hardy Boys and Nan­cy Drew mys­ter­ies before mov­ing on to Agatha Christie, Tony Hiller­man, and Sara Paret­sky.… more

The Night the Forest Came to Town

The Night the Forest Came to Town
A city can be all hard surfaces, concrete, brick, pavement, and glass. Adults can be preoccupied with their devices. Billboards, street lights, every kind of distraction. There's a distinct separation from nature, a disconnect.

Pairing Verse with Nonfiction

Roxane Orgill
Why write non­fic­tion in verse? If you do, is it still non­fic­tion? Good ques­tions in a time when gen­res are expanding. I’ve used verse in two non­fic­tion sto­ries: a pic­ture book, Jazz Day: The Mak­ing of a Famous Pho­to­graph, and a book for ages ten and up, Siege: How Wash­ing­ton Kicked the British out of Boston and Launched a Rev­o­lu­tion (Can­dlewick Press).… more

On the Way to East Dene

Candice Ransom
One day dur­ing this drea­ry Vir­ginia win­ter, I came across a talk by Susan Coop­er, giv­en at Sim­mons Col­lege in 1980. The talk was titled, “Nahum Tarune’s Book.” To explain the title, she begins by quot­ing an aston­ish­ing pas­sage from the intro­duc­tion of Come Hith­er by Wal­ter de la Mare, an anthol­o­gy of poet­ry first pub­lished in 1923: In my rov­ings and ram­blings as a boy I had often skirt­ed the old stone house in the hol­low.… more

Books Are Our Emissaries

Stephanie Calmenson
As authors, we send our books out into the world and, if we’re lucky, they con­nect us to good peo­ple whose paths we would­n’t oth­er­wise cross. For 28 years, Din­ner at the Pan­da Palace has been my excel­lent emissary.  Din­ner at the Pan­da Palace start­ed as a sim­ple count­ing and sort­ing book with lots of ani­mals and a par­ty atmos­phere to make the learn­ing fun. … more

Poetry Books That Celebrate
African American History and Culture

Poet­ry and the spo­ken word have promi­nent places in African Amer­i­can cul­ture, due at least in part to a strong oral tra­di­tion that has been passed down through gen­er­a­tions. Con­sid­er includ­ing poems from the books below in your read-alouds this month, and the year ahead, as a way to high­light the con­tri­bu­tions of African Amer­i­cans to our nation’s his­to­ry and cul­ture.
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Bookstorm™: The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars
Before the uni­verse was formed, before time and space exist­ed, there was … noth­ing. But then … BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they explod­ed, fling­ing star­dust every­where. And the ash of those stars turned into plan­ets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poet­ic text, Mar­i­on Dane Bauer takes read­ers from the tril­lionth of a sec­ond when our uni­verse was born to the sin­gu­lar­i­ties that became each one of us, while vivid illus­tra­tions by Ekua Holmes cap­ture the void before the Big Bang and the ensu­ing life that burst across galax­ies.… more

Curiouser and Curiouser with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins
As I read each of Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins’ col­lec­tions of poet­ry, I find my curios­i­ty piqued: “How does he do this?” When I was a grad stu­dent, I came across Mr. Hop­kins’ book, Books Are by Peo­ple: inter­views with 104 authors and illus­tra­tors of books for young chil­dren. Those inter­views pro­voked my imag­i­na­tion and pro­pelled my career. It’s a priv­i­lege to be inter­view­ing Mr.… more

The Poetry of US

The Poetry of US
If you’re still look­ing for hol­i­day gifts or start-the-year-with-a-treat gifts for your home, class­room, a host present, some­thing last­ing … con­sid­er this book.  The Poet­ry of US 
edit­ed by J. Patrick Lewis
Nation­al Geo­graph­ic Part­ners, 2018, 192 pages Not every­one can trav­el to all the dots on our country’s map, but this book trans­ports us through­out Amer­i­ca with the pow­er of poet­ry, engag­ing all our sens­es.… more

Pie and Gratitude

Novem­ber is a month of grat­i­tude — and, for us, a month to cel­e­brate Pie. We all have a favorite. Many of us have child­hood mem­o­ries of good times and pie. We all wait for the days when we can eat pie for break­fast. So we two thought this would be the per­fect month to look at pic­ture books about pie.… more

Literary Madeleine: Sing a Song of Seasons

I believe this book belongs in every class­room, every home, and in every child’s life. It is a won­drous book to read, to look at, to mem­o­rize, and to talk about with the chil­dren around you. It is a Lit­er­ary Madeleine, scrump­tious in every way. The full title is Sing a Song of Sea­sons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year, edit­ed by Fiona Water and illus­trat­ed by Frann Pre­ston-Gan­non, it is a won­der.… more

Lucille Clifton: All About Love

Poet Lucille Clifton in a 1998 inter­view “Doing What You Will Do,” pub­lished in Sleep­ing with One Eye Open: Women Writ­ers and the Art of Sur­vival, said, “I think the oral tra­di­tion is the one which is most inter­est­ing to me and the voice in which I like to speak.” Asked about the most impor­tant aspect of her craft, she answered, “For me, sound … sound, the music of a poem, the feel­ing are most impor­tant.… more

Pomelo Books

What do a uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor from Dal­las and a lawyer from Prince­ton have in common? Both are pas­sion­ate about poet­ry, specif­i­cal­ly, poet­ry in the class­room for every­one, every­day, and about any­thing, even alge­bra. Sylvia Vardell, pro­fes­sor and author of edu­ca­tion­al books for teach­ers, and Janet Wong, lawyer and author of sev­er­al dozen books for chil­dren, com­bined their knowl­edge and poet­ry pas­sion and cre­at­ed Pome­lo Books.… more

Dearie Darling Cuddle Hug: A Tribute to Wendy Watson

When our chil­dren were young we both spent many hours with them pour­ing over Wendy Wat­son’s illus­tra­tions for her sis­ter Clyde’s rhymes in Father Fox’s Pen­nyrhymes and delight­ing in the sounds and the silli­ness of the rhymes them­selves. We felt as though we had lost a per­son­al friend when Wendy Wat­son died, even though we had nev­er met her.… more

With My Hands

Some­times, a book comes across my desk that sparkles like a gem, attract­ing my atten­tion, insist­ing that I stop what I’m doing and read it. This hap­pened when With My Hands: Poems about Mak­ing Things arrived last week. I thought I’d take a peek. Next thing you know, I was clos­ing the last page of the book, sigh­ing with con­tent­ment. And then I knew I had to read the book all over again.… more

Skinny Dip with Stephanie Calmenson

Stephanie Calmenson
Author of the beloved Din­ner at the Pan­da PalaceStephanie Cal­men­son has shared her love of lit­er­a­ture with ear­ly child­hood and ele­men­tary read­ers by chan­nel­ing her enthu­si­asm for their expe­ri­ences into her books.  Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why? I loved my kinder­garten teacher, Ms. Cogan, who taught with warmth and joy.… more

Skinny Dip with Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle
Our cur­rent Young Peo­ple’s Poet Lau­re­ate, Mar­gari­ta Engle has writ­ten about the land, the life, and the heroes of Cuba, along with verse nov­els, pic­ture books, and biogra­phies of heroes the world over.  What is your favorite daydream? I love to dream of instant trav­el, like the “beam me up” gad­get in old Star Trek episodes. There are so many places I want to see, and so many peo­ple I want to vis­it more often, espe­cial­ly rel­a­tives in Los Ange­les, San Fran­cis­co, Mia­mi, and Cuba.… more

Skinny Dip with Joyce Sidman

Joyce Sidman
From the first time, many years ago, that I heard Joyce Sid­man read aloud from her poet­ry, when Eure­ka! Poems about Inven­tors was about to be released, I knew this woman car­ried mag­ic in her soul. Work­ing mag­ic with words, writ­ing about sci­ence and our very human emo­tions … Joyce has become a favorite author for many readers. Who was your favorite teacher in grades K-7 and why?more

Skinny Dip with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins
You can­not be a part of the chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture com­mu­ni­ty with­out know­ing his name. Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins has been writ­ing for chil­dren and adults since 1968. His Books Are by Peo­ple (1969) had a pro­found effect on me. With his antholo­gies, he has kept our eyes focused on poet­ry, know­ing how much chil­dren love the images and emo­tions evoked by well-cho­sen words.… more

Read Out Loud for Easter

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg
As you pre­pare to cel­e­brate East­er, we encour­age you to include books in your cel­e­bra­tion. A tra­di­tion of read­ing out loud before East­er din­ner, after East­er din­ner, as you awak­en on East­er morn­ing … per­haps each day dur­ing Holy Week? Here are a few gems we believe you and your fam­i­ly will trea­sure. Hap­py Easter!   At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter
writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes, illus­trat­ed by David Frampton
Eerd­mans Books for Young Read­ers, 2005 There are twen­ty-two free-form poems in this book, each from the point of view of a wit­ness to the events of the cru­ci­fix­ion and res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus Christ.
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Behind the Poem, “What She Asked”

Lis­ten to Vir­gini­a’s poem, “What She Asked,” on Poet­ry Mosa­ic, the April 7th entry, and then read her descrip­tion of the real-life event behind the poem. In a rur­al Ore­gon high school where I taught Eng­lish more than 20 years ago, we had big teach­ing areas sep­a­rat­ed by screen-wall things, but they came nowhere near reach­ing the high ceil­ing, because a few years ear­li­er the design of the school had been to have a giant Resource Cen­ter and Library, and teach­ers and groups of stu­dents would ide­al­ly meet in sec­tions of the mas­sive room, and that would be school.… more

Merna Ann Hecht and Our Table of Memories

Merna Ann Hecht
When one poet, Mer­na Ann Hecht, and one edu­ca­tor, Car­rie Stradley, observed their com­mu­ni­ty, their schools, their stu­dents, and real­ized that a pletho­ra of life expe­ri­ences sur­round­ed them, they put their teach­ing and their hearts togeth­er to cre­ate The Sto­ries of Arrival: Refugee and Immi­grant Youth Voic­es Poet­ry Project at Fos­ter High School, in Tuk­wila, Washington.… more

Charles Ghigna, Champion of Poetry

Charles Ghigna
Our thanks to author and poet Charles Ghigna (GEEN-yuh) for tak­ing time out from his writ­ing, school vis­its, and con­fer­ence tours to answer these ques­tions which have been knock-knock-knockin’ on my brain since I first began read­ing his many books of poet­ry and, now, a non­fic­tion book about fas­ci­nat­ing animals!  Do you remember when you first read a poem and it caught your attention?more

Word Search: Jazz Day

Jazz Day
Were you already a jazz affi­ciona­do? Love groovin’ to the tunes? Or did read­ing Jazz Day: the Mak­ing of a Famous Pho­to­graph by Rox­ane Orgill, with inspired illus­tra­tions by Fran­cis Valle­jo, draw you clos­er to the some­times ener­getic, some­times mel­low, but always riv­et­ing music we call JAZZ? If you love puz­zles and games, we hope you have a good time solv­ing this Word Search. … more

Reading Memories

Treasury for Young Readers
Mem­o­ries of my child­hood are imper­fect. Yours, too? I don’t remem­ber hav­ing a lot of books as a child. I remem­ber The Poky Lit­tle Pup­py and anoth­er dog book (title unknown) and Three Lit­tle Kit­tens (per­haps a reminder to me to keep track of my mittens). I remem­ber using the school library vora­cious­ly to read books. I had no access to the pub­lic library (too far away) so that school library was my life­line.… more

Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer

Charles Ghigna (photo: Scott Pierce)
This month Charles Ghigna, well-known as the poet Father Goose, offers “Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer.” There is much to pon­der here, no mat­ter what your age might be, but young writ­ers espe­cial­ly will find these words of encour­age­ment to be use­ful and inspi­ra­tional. For example: Trust
your instincts
to write. Ques­tion
your rea­sons
not to.… more

Melissa Sweet

Melissa Sweet
In this inter­view with Melis­sa Sweet, illus­tra­tor of A Riv­er of Words: The Sto­ry of William Car­los Williams, our Book­storm™ this monthwe asked six ques­tions and Melis­sa kind­ly took time from her busy days of vis­it­ing schools and cre­at­ing art.
Do you recall the first time you encountered a William Carlos Williams poem? My first introduction to William Carlos Williams was when I was seven years old and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.… more

Jen Bryant

Jen Bryant
In this inter­view with Jen Bryant, author of A Riv­er of Words: The Sto­ry of William Car­los Williams, our Book­storm™ this month. Do you recall the first time you encountered a William Carlos Williams poem? I was in high school—and it was part of an anthology reading that we did for English class. I had disliked/not understood/ been unmoved by all of the other poems in this assigned reading (I recall that the language in those poems was archaic and flowery, and the forms very, VERY traditional)—and then—whooosh—like a breath of fresh air, here were a few selected W.… more

Treasure Hunt

Lisa Bullard
One of my favorite road-trip mem­o­ries is “mud-pud­dling” in west­ern North Car­oli­na. We had fol­lowed signs that lured us in with the promise of gem­stones prac­ti­cal­ly free for the tak­ing. The space we wan­dered into looked like a road­side pic­nic area, and seemed ide­al for the kind of lazy after­noon we had in mind. We each pur­chased buck­ets of dirt-cov­ered rocks for a small fee, and then claimed our places along
a bench in front of a trough of run­ning water.… more

Bookstorm™: A River of Words

A River of Words
  Author Jen Bryant and illus­tra­tor Melis­sa Sweet have teamed up on a num­ber of pic­ture book biogra­phies about cre­ative artists. We’ve cho­sen to fea­ture their very first col­lab­o­ra­tion dur­ing this month in which poet­ry takes the spot­light. By telling us the true sto­ry about poet William Car­los Williams’ child­hood and grow­ing up, with his clear poet­ry sur­round­ing the pages, they awak­en inter­est in young peo­ple who may think this no-longer-liv­ing, ancient (he was born in 1883 and died in 1963) poet is not with­in reach.… more

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book
The word exquis­ite once won the game for me while play­ing Pass­word. I have been fond of that word since that time and look for instances where it applies. That is sure­ly the illus­trat­ed edi­tion of The Jun­gle Book, writ­ten by Rud­yard Kipling all of those years ago, and new­ly illus­trat­ed by Nico­la Bay­ley. Can­dlewick pub­lished this edi­tion of the clas­sic sto­ries and their clas­sics are worth col­lect­ing, read­ing, and trea­sur­ing.… more