Children’s poetry continued

On Saturday we began a conversation about children’s poetry and where humor fits into the picture. Looking back through the comments, you will see a variety of positions taken and opinions given.I think the day was well spent, so much so that I’d like to pick up the chat again today. Some of you may not have been at your computers over the weekend so here’s your chance to join in.

If you need an introduction to our subject, reread the post for Saturday and review the comments posted by nearly three dozen participants.

So what do you think? You have a good chance today to add your thoughts.

On another subject, Lee Bennett Hopkins has completed his guest blog so I’m looking forward to bringing that to you in early February. I’ll post his bio the day before.


If you are interested in additional opportunities to enter your prose and poetry, go see Kathy Temean’s site today at . As always, Kathy keeps track of what’s going on and posts it to help her visitors find additional outlets for their creative efforts. Thanks, Kathy.

No poems from young poets yet this month but our adult division is alive and well! We’ve seen more poems posted in the first ten days than we have in any previous month. Lots of chatter too. Keep it up! We have plenty of time left for you to write your “time” inspired poem and share it with the rest of us. Teachers, we’re all waiting for those student masterpieces.


Note to principals

I look forward to meeting a growing number of poets in 2010. In each of our first three months we’ve greeted old friends and welcomed new ones. I’m pleased that you are enjoying the monthly exercise of creating a poem generated by the word of the month. Thanks everyone.

Some teachers have pointed out a problem for them. They have a hard time squeezing in new projects — no matter how much they like them — unless there is a clear connection to the requirements of their classroom curriculum. In response I wrote a letter to principals and Kathy posted it on the Teacher page of my website.

Today I’m also posting the letter here and asking that you pass it along to principals you know who might have an interest in learning more about the Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. Thanks. Here’s the letter.

Dear Principal,Since October 2009 I’ve sponsored Word of the Month Poetry Challenge> on the blog page (  of my website (  Adults and students nationwide write poems inspired by the Word of the Month and post their results where hundreds of readers visit.

Students whose early experiences with writing are fun and challenging are more inclined to value writing and enjoy doing it. Taking a single word and discovering the stories it holds is that kind of entertaining experience. Once students feel successful using the One Word Challenge, teachers might introduce words germane to their own class units — triangle, global, president, extinct – that will reinforce learning and reasoning skills.

Word of the Month Poetry Challenge is not a writing program. It’s more like mental calisthenics to keep the imagination limber. When students who say they have nothing to write about realize they’ve taken a random word, considered it’s potential, made a list of approaches, and created a complete poem, they become proud, excited, and more confident of their writing abilities.

Monthly Hall of Fame Poets are elected by popular vote for adult and student divisions. Student winners are posted on YAAGroup (Young Authors and Artists Group, ) and receive a free 1-year membership that provides access to professional tips and suggestions by a team of successful authors and editors. I serve on that team along with Jerry Spinelli and others.

My fifteen books of poetry and rhymes for young people plus books with Timothy Rasinski and Gay Fawcett (reading fluency), Bernice Cullinan (poetry in the classroom), Kathy Holderith (poetry across the curricula), and (in progress) Mary Jo Fresch (phonemic awareness) convince me that Word of the Month Poetry Challenge provides a significant experience for students who participate. You can read more about the value of using poetry as a teaching tool in my chapter on poetry (“Yes, Poetry Can!”) in Children’s Literature in the Reading Program, An Invitation to Read, published by International Reading Association in 2009.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you will encourage teachers in grades three and up to participate in Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. If you have comments or questions, please leave them for me to answer. Thanks very much.