Sunday, April 17, 2016

Books for Teaching Poetry

I love poetry! I always have. I embarrassingly admit that at one point in my life I had journals filled with poems that I would learn in class and then write down so I could keep them forever. I remember Nothing Gold Can Stay and Richard Cory, Shakespeare's Tomorrow monologue from MacBeth (which I can still recite by the way). I wish I could find those journals.

Anyway, when I teach poetry (it's one of my favorite units) I begin with talking to them about e.e.cummings and his knack for never using capital letters. How poets, like Kindergarteners, do not always follow the rules. In fact, there are no rules when it comes to writing poetry. 

Every morning in our reading warm-up we read poems. I introduce them to funny poets like Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. I introduced them to serious poets like Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes and Robert Frost. I find it to be a marvelous tool for teaching vocabulary-in poems, the writer has to be very succinct in their word choices. I also think it helps develop their listening comprehension. We keep Poetry Journals where they can illustrate what the poem means and then go back and read their favorites themselves.

With April being National Poetry Month, my focus for read-alouds revolves around books of poems. These are some gems I discovered this year:

This is such a fun read-aloud with a great message-never judge a book by it's cover or a Prince by his wardrobe.

Poems using the fairy tale characters.

My kids this year can't get enough of science-so this one was right up their alley. They take poems like "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening" and make it "An Astronaut Stopping By....", etc. Very cool!

The title poem is the best one! Great for a lesson in making inferences. The new kid is a bit of a bully and the last line tells us, not as we expected-she's a girl! :)

What a beautiful, profound book! I'm on book-buying probation right now (got our copy from the library) but I may have to spring for a copy of this one. Loved it!

Poems to describe the cars of the future. Very entertaining! Could lead to great discussions on the students' predictions of cars yet to be invented.


  1. I teach poetry during writing workshop and though previous to the unit, we have poetry anthologies and I read a bit of Shel Silverstein, I don't expose them near the variety I should.

  2. Thank you for all the recommendations!