Discussing children’s poetry

Good Saturday everyone,

Two days ago a few of us started a discussion on the Adult Word of the Month Poems page that I decided was significant and interesting enough to bring to the “front page” as today’s blog. It started with this comment from Yousei Hime about a humorous poem of mine.

(Yousei) I used to take poetry so seriously. It never occurred to me until much later in life (I can be very slow) that Dr. Suess was a great poet. Fun, humorous poetry is the best. I love serious, dark, even sad. But at least right now, let’s have more sunshine and laughter. Thanks for your poems, David.

(David) Yousei, you raise a good point for discussion. The literary world typically considers writers of serious, big picture issues as “serious” writers. By implication, no one else is. Which includes most children’s writers. Children’s writers in general and poets in particular are considered by many to be less than equal members of the writing community. (I’ve added the following comment to what I originally stated: In his book, Can Poetry Matter? Dana Gioia refers to children’s poetry as “the critically disreputable demimonde of light verse and chidren’s poetry.”) Humor is also suspect. So where does that place the children’s poet of humorous poems? You guessed it. On the other hand, what sort of poetry do children love? Humor. So children’s poets sometimes feel as though they can write “seriously” to appeal to grown-ups or write funny poems that their readers like. Anyone want to comment on this?

And someone did. Here’s Gay Fawcett.

(Gay) David, interesting question! I taught primary children for years. It is true they love humorous poetry, but I also found young children can come to love serious poetry when teachers share it thoughtfully and with their own passion for good poetry of all kinds. In my earlier blog I made a plea to teachers not to limit their classroomn poetry to Silverstein and Prelutsky. Although I love them both I think we underestimate children when we restrict their poetry experiences.

(Yousei) I agree with Gay. There needs to be a balance, and not just for young readers. I’ve also taught, and one of my primary goals was to instill at least an awareness of, if not encourage a love of language. I think a study of poetry is one of the best ways of doing that. One can tell a decent story without agonizing over each word. Poetry demands precise words, wonderful words, the perfect word. Besides, it is so coooooooool when you get it right.

As you can see, the topic seemed too rich to remain off the beaten path so here it is for everyone to consider. My hope is that you will weigh in on this topic on the comments section below so we can gather in one place the good opinions of many readers. Some of you teach, some write, some do both, and some do neither. One thing I’ve learned is that we’re a chatty bunch willing to share thoughts and support and this is a fine place to do both.

Who will get us started?


Kathy Temean today


Today it’s my pleasure to bring you Kathy Temean.

Kathy’s advice about blogging will help anyone who is in the “business” or ever wanted to be.

Read on!

I don’t offer any advice on writing here, today. Anyone who is interested in writing related tips, can visit my
writing and illustrating blog at http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com

What I do offer is some advice on marketing yourself. You don’t have to be a published author, illustrator or a known personality to start building a reputation and begin connecting with people on the Internet. Just the fact you are here reading David’s blog, means you are someone who should consider joining the social media explosion.

If you write, illustrate, dabble in photography, have something to show off or just have something to say, then you should think about promoting yourself with a blog.
Two years ago, I would have said, why would you want to torture yourself with a blog? But now with Twitter, I have changed my mind. Twitter has changed everything. By spending only a few minutes a day on Twitter you can drive people to your blog, that would never have found
you before.

You might ask why I didn’t start off by directing you towards having a website? Well, I started with blogs, because they are free, easy to use and you don’t need a web designer to have one. If you don’t have something to sell or promote, then starting out with a blog is an easy way to get your name out there and a quick entry into Social Media.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Decide what you can blog about and how often you will blog. Don’t start blogging unless you are committed to blogging on a schedule.

2. Pick a topic. You may be good at knitting, skiing, rock climbing, raising children, training pets – the list goes on and on. Now decide who you see as your target audience – kids, parents, seniors, women, men, etc. What ever you do, just don’t make it about what you did during the day, because no one cares – unless you are a celebrity.

3. Once you have decided on how many times a week you want to blog, stick to it. The worst thing you can do is start blogging, build an audience and then lose them by dropping the ball.

4. Once you have decided on the what, the when, and the look, then you need to set up an RSS Feed and give your visitors the option to sign up for automatic e-mails.

5. Encourage visitors to respond to your posts by asking questions.

6. Always respond to a person when they leave you a comment.

7. Visit other blogs and leave comments. This will help build traffic.

8. Twitter three or four times a week about something on your blog. Since you can only use 140 characters, counting spaces, it should only take you a minute to do this.

9. The other three or four times a week when you are not tweeting, go to Twitter and re-tweet something you find from someone else. This will help get your name out there. Re-tweeting is only a matter of hitting a button.

10. Always use tags when you blog. Tags help search engines and feeds pick up your blog and distribute your posts around the Internet (You can find them on your blog’s dashboard).

Tip:  Remember to put a limit on your social media writing.  You still want your creative writing to be part of your plan.

Kathy, thank you for this and for everything else you do for me.


While we have everyone’s attention, I’m reprinting here some good advice to writers that Kathy recently added under comments. I think these tips are well worth sharing here. DH


I love these mini lessons on how to approach a new poem or story – keep them coming.

Since I do not know how many people on this blog are published, I thought I should point out to the group, you do not have to apply for a formal copyright for the poems you write. As soon as you write something, it is automatically copyrighted.If you do spend the money to copyright your work, it will only hinder a publisher when they want to publish your writing. Most new writers don’t know that, so it is kind of a “newbie red flag” if they tell a publisher they have a copyright on their work. 

Will you run into poems or stories that sound similar to your writing?  Yes, but that probably will happen even if you never put your writing out for the public to read.

If you see something someone else has written that you think is good and would like to post on your blog, then send them a note letting them know and ask if you can post it.  If they are smart, they will say, “Yes.”

Marketing is a very important thing and getting your name out there and associated with good writing is a great marketing plan. 


BULLETIN: Tomorrow I hope everyone will join us in a discussion of children’s poetry. The whole day is dedicated to the subject so share your thoughts and read what others have to say.