April is one of my favorite months because it is National Poetry Month. It’s the perfect time to discover poetry and perhaps even the poet inside us. As a form of written art, poetry takes on a life of its own and has the ability to inspire people, great and small, in many different ways.
During National Poetry Month there are lots of fun things that you can do with your children to introduce them to poetry and enhance your homeschool. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to read a lot of poems! There are poems written for children, to expressly appeal to a child, but you might be surprised how a child responds to poems that don’t specifically cater to children. Poetry is amazing in that way, it has the power to speak to our hearts when we least expect it.
Below you will find a list of books of poetry and novels that feature poetry to kickstart your April poetry adventure, and this article, by the Washington Post lists some new children’s books for poetry.
One of my favorite books for children is Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech. In it the main character, a pre-teen boy, discovers poetry. The sequel Hate That Cat is just as enjoyable. These are just two books that you can read with your childen that contain several poems by different authors.
Write a Letter to a Poet
This month The Academy of American Poets presents their Dear Poet project, which invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors.
To participate in this year’s Dear Poet project, students watch the videos of Chancellors reading and discussing one of their poems. Then, they write them a letter in response and send it by post or email to the Academy of American Poets, 75 Maiden Lane, Suite 901, New York, NY 10038 or firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30, 2015. Please include your name and the name of the poet to whom you’ve written. All letters will be considered for publication on Poets.org in May 2015. And the Chancellors will reply to select letters of their choosing.
You can watch all of the videos, read all the poems, and find some lesson plans (Common Core aligned, unfortunately) here: http://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/dear-poet
Carry a Poem in Your Pocket
Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people throughout the United States celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day as schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and other venues ring loud with open readings of poems from pockets.
Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative national, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard.
This year Poem in Your Pocket Day will be held on April 30. Be sure to share your poem selection on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.
Participate in NaPoWriMo
NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April. Everyday on NaPoWriMo.net, poet Maureen Thorson posts a prompt to get the creative juices flowing. You can use her prompt, or any of a number of poetry prompts that can be found online. You can put together a notebook of poems for the month, or if you have a blog you can post them there. If you tweet them via Twitter be sure to use the hashtag #NaPoWriMo
Participate in the O, Miami Poetry Festival Zip Code Odes
O, Miami and WLRN-Miami Herald believe it’s time to pay tribute to the least poetic definition of where you live: The ZIP Code. This April, they’re asking you to memorialize your federally appointed numerical designation by writing an ode to your ZIP code. The five winners will be selected by 2012 Presidential Inaugural Poet and Miami native Richard Blanco. Submissions close April 21, 2015, at noon. Each ZIP Ode is five lines, with the number of words in each line determined by your particular zip code. To see some examples and to submit your Zip Ode, click here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1cMYwGrF2ehMEDARzOBJKOzF53C9q3lS5in-lTXGCZfI/viewform?c=0&w=1
Discover Poetry through Books
Here are some of my favorite books of poetry for kids:
A Kick in the Head by Paul B. Janeczko
The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects by Paul B. Janeczko
Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
The Entire Series of Poetry for Young People
A Maze Me by Naomi Shihab Nye
Poems to Learn By Heart by Caroline Kennedy
Books to Help You Write Poetry
The Place My Words are Looking For by Paul B. Janeczko
Seeing the Blue Between, Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets by Paul B. Janeczko
How to Write Poetry by Paul B. Janeczko
Poetry from A to Z by Paul B. Janeczko