Month: February 2014

Poetry Aloud Here 2: Sharing Poetry with Children

Poetry Aloud Here 2: Sharing Poetry with Children

If you are a teacher, librarian, or other adult who uses children’s poetry as an educational tool, Poetry Aloud Here 2: Sharing Poetry with Children by Sylvia M. Vardell is a book you need to know about. This outstanding resource provides educators with tons of practical information on teaching poetry in both formal and informal settings, including including how and why to promote poetry to children, strategies for presenting poetry to kids, what kinds of poems children enjoy, biographies of many important children’s poets, follow-up activities, web resources, and so much more.

This revamped and expanded edition of the original Poetry Aloud Here! details best practices gleaned from years in the field, with numerous suggestions that cross the curriculum from literature to science and math, and includes expanded lists of poems, in-depth poet profiles, book-poetry pairings, and other tools useful for programming and collection development.

About the Author

Sylvia M. Vardell is currently Professor at Texas Woman s University in the School of Library and Information Studies, where she teaches graduate courses in children s and young adult literature. She has published articles in Book Links, Language Arts, English Journal, The Reading Teacher, The New Advocate, Young Children, Social Education, and Horn Book, as well as several chapters and books on language and literature. A presenter at many state, regional, national, and international conferences, Vardell organizes the “Poetry Round Up” session at the Texas Library Association conference. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1983.

Where to Buy this Book

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Laura E. Richards, the First American Children’s Nonsense Poet

Laura E. Richards

Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards was an American writer of the late 19th century who published more than 90 books. Born on February 27, 1850, she is best known for the nonsense poems she created for children to enjoy, such as “Eletelephony.”

Laura Richards’ parents were famous before she was born. Her father was Samuel Gridley Howe, who ran the Perkins Institute for the Blind where Helen Keller and Laura Bridgman were educated. (In fact, he named his own daughter after Laura Bridgman.) Her mother, Julia Ward Howe, wrote the words to a famous song called “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” When Laura Richards grew up, she and her sister wrote a biography of their mother that won a Pulitzer Prize.

In addition to writing many poems and works of fiction, Richards was a philanthropist. She was very concerned about finding ways to help the people in the town where she lived with her husband. For example, Richards helped to change the practice of making children work at difficult jobs as if they were adults, which was common at the time.

One of Richards’s best books of nonsense poetry is called Tirra Lirra. The poems in this book use techniques like rhythm, alliteration, and startling imagery to tell an imaginative story.

Here is the poem “Eletelephony,” in which Richards uses several funny and surprising variations on the word “elephant.” This technique gives us the impression that the poet has gotten all tangled up in her words, just like the elephant gets his trunk tangled in the telephone—or was it a telephunk?


Once there was an elephant,
Who tried to use the telephant—
No! No! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

We Go Together by Calef Brown

We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown

As Children’s Poet Laureate, one of my jobs is to select a collection of poetry each month to feature on the Poetry Foundation’s website. There you’ll find my monthly book picks, and those of the previous Children’s Poets Laureate. My pick for February, 2014 is We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown.

Interview with Children’s Author and Illustrator Calef Brown

In addition, I interviewed Calef about his life as a poet and about his new book. Here is what he had to say.