Saturday, April 14, 2012
Professional Books About Teaching Poetry
The fun of teaching poetry has begun. I have placed collections of poetry books on the tables around our classroom and asked this question, "What is poetry?". In the coming days we'll be working to create an understanding of poetry, and all it can be, together. We will surround ourselves with poetry by reading it together, creating opportunities to read it independently, and perhaps a little poetry break every now and then (stopping everything to listen to a poem). My hope is to help aspiring young poets get the rhythms of poetry in their ears, minds, and hearts so they will soon be able to create their own poetry.
When getting ready to teach poetry I like to get myself ready as well. I am writing poetry, listening to poetry on my iPod, reading books written to help you capture your words in poetry (Heard, Wooldridge, Murray) and following National Poetry Month events. I have always loved poetry so for me this is always a fun time.
Here are a few professional resources for teaching poetry to children I always recommend. If you have others, please leave them in the comments below:
Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School by Georgia Heard. If you don't buy anything else, buy this book. First of all, Georgia Heard has a delightful way with words on a page. I enjoy everything I read by her. Secondly, she takes a closer look at poetry through the eyes of a writer. She talks about finding poems where they hide and creating an environment for poetry. When talking about a unit of poetry study Heard reminds us our goal is to "ensure that poems will sing to our students and that they'll seek out poems even after the study of poetry has ended in the classroom."
Outspoken! How to Improve Writing and Speaking Skills Through Poetry Performance by Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger. This book is interesting because it looks at poetry through a different lens - performance. How do we read poems? Of course, there is also discussion about how to write poems that move an audience. I especially enjoyed the chapter on memoir where the authors share suggestions for helping young poets write about what they know. Interestingly, there is a section that demonstrates turning a story into a poem by capturing key words and phrases.
Kids' Poems by Regie Routman. If poetry isn't your thing, this is probably the book you should buy to support young poets. If poetry is your thing, you'll want this book for the way it looks at poetry through the eyes of the young poet. Regie not only shares suggestions for getting started with the teaching of poetry, but she also has collected poetry written by young poets in a format ready to be shared with your students. Regie has written a Kids' Poem book for grades K-4 (that I am aware of).
A Note Slipped Under the Door: Teaching From the Poems We Love by Nick Flynn and Shirley McPhillips. This book is a much deeper read about poetry. It taught me so much about poetry itself. It's beautifully written. Though it is a professional text, I felt like there were lines within it that were poetically written. The authors remind us, "Poems are mysteries and come from deep places. We can be amazed or moved without always being able to explain why." This book shares powerful examples of poetry, makes suggestions for writing poetry, and takes a closer look at key characteristics of mentor poems.
Poetry Matters by Ralph Fletcher is the perfect book to share snippets about writing poetry with young writers. When I went to grab my copy for this post, it was missing again. I tend to lend it out often as it is useful when talking with students about writing poetry. This book was written to hand directly to young poets. Ralph wanted poets to have practical ideas for getting their message just the way they want it.