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.