Partner Poems and Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills

Hi everyone,

I’d like to talk a little about the two books with Scholastic that have recently reached the market. I’ve mentioned before that I wrote the poems, TIM RASINSKI wrote the word ladders, and MARY JO FRESCH created activities to further reinforce each lesson. One volume is for students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade. The other is meant for slightly more advanced kids in grades 1-3. Together, both books provide 50 poems, word ladders, and lessons. All the poems are for two or more voices.

We’ve each made videos about the intention and process for making these books. As I’ve said many times before, it was both a pleasure and a privilege to work with Tim and Mary Jo on the project. I went first because my colleagues needed the poems before they could add their own work. In the beginning, they provided me with a list of phonograms, basic word sounds such as ab, ed, ip, ot, ug, and unk. My job was to take each of these sounds and write a partner poem for young children. I began each time by making a list of words that included my target sound, such as ak.

Once I had a list of words with the same sounds, I had to find a poem somewhere in the list for at least two children to take turns reading together. In this case my list ran 29 words: back, hack, Jack, crack, snack, whack, and so on. The poem that emerged, which is shown on the cover of the book, goes like this.

1st Voice						2nd Voice

See my yak?
							That’s no yak.
I named him Jack.
							Jack’s no yak.
I love my Yak.
							Jack’s no yak.
							He has feathers
							on his back.
							Jack’s no yak. 
Good old Jack.
I love my yak.
							Jack has feathers
							on his back.
							He waddles with
							a quack, quack.
							Jack’s no yak.
Pretty feathers,
pretty back,
pretty waddle,
pretty yak!
							A yak is gray
							or brown or black.
							He has no feathers
							down his back.
							He doesn’t waddle,
							doesn’t quack.
							Jack’s no yak!
Jack’s no yak?
							No such luck.
Well then.
I love my Jack,
the duck.

(c) 2022 David L. Harrison, Scholastic Books, Partner Poems, Grades K-2

I should point out that although these books were written with the classroom teacher in mind, they can easily work for home schooling parents and kids will like the poems just for the fun of them. It’s like getting a book of twenty-five poems to play with and read with a parent or friend.

Partner Poems & Word Ladders for Building Foundational Literacy Skills

Hi everyone,

Yesterday my samples arrived for both volumes of the new Scholastic titles. I loved meeting them at last. My partners in the project, TIM RASINSKI and MARY JO FRESCH have just received their samples, too, so we’re all celebrating together.

My thanks to our editor, MARIA CHANG, and to TARA WELTY, Senior Vice President of Teaching Solutions, for turning our ideas and proposals into reality. Now we turn to the task of getting out the word that our books are out there and ready to be put to use in classrooms and homes wherever children are learning to read. As it says in the description: “Motivate young learners to develop fluency with funny short poems they can read with a partner. Follow this up with skill-building word ladders that focus on phonics and vocabulary, plus an engaging language arts mini-lesson on reading, writing, or word study, and you’ve got a comprehensive, strategic approach to teaching early literacy skills. This book provides practice in reading and writing phonograms essential for learners who are ready to expand their vocabulary and experiences with print.”

Partner Poems II finally out

Hi Everyone,

This past week during my little vacation, I had a new book come out. PARTNER POEMS & WORD LADDERS FOR BUILDING FOUNDATION LITERACY SKILLS for grades 1-3 is the companion book to (same title but for grades K-2) that was issued in February.

It’s always a pleasure and honor to work with MARY JO FRESCH and TIM RASINSKI on books for elementary classroom teachers and their students. For this pair of books for Scholastic, I wrote 50 poems for two or more voices, Tim created wonderful word ladders for each of them, and Mary Jo wrote insightful, fun ways to apply the poems and word ladders to lessons for the classroom. Special thanks to our editor, MARIA CHANG, for her guidance and knowledge throughout the process. From start to finish the development of these two books took sixteen months. We think the result is a winning combination and naturally we’re eager to see the books get out there and find their market.

Tim Rasinski
Mary Jo Fresch

I hope you’ll help us reach ort audience by putting these books to work and/or sharing this announcement with teachers you know who might. Thanks so much!