You might have heard that every year, the month of April is National Poetry Month. But did you know that Thursday, April 24 is Poem in Your Pocket Day? This is a day when people all over the United States will be sharing their favorite poem with their families, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors.
The town of Charlottesville in Virginia has an annual tradition of celebrating this day together. Lots of people volunteer to pass out printed poems all over town, and they also have an open mic poetry event the night before Poem in Your Pocket Day to kick off the celebration. There are also special Poem in Your Pocket events every year in other large cities, such as New York.
Here are 10 easy and fun ways to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day this year:
Write a short poem on an index card and tape or thumbtack it to a public bulletin board. Or you could use just one stanza from a longer poem. Be sure to give the title and author so that people who read it can look up the full poem on their own.
If you don’t have a pocket, think of other places to store folded-up poems. How about tucked into the top of in your sock?
Email your favorite poem to a pen pal or family member who lives far away.
Ask your parent, teacher, or school librarian to help you arrange a poem swap for your class or neighborhood, in which everyone brings a printed copy of their favorite poem and swaps it for someone else’s poem.
If you use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can post a photo of your favorite poem and include the hashtag #pocketpoem.
Leave a printed copy of your poem between the pages of a library book. It will be a surprise for the next reader!
If your family often visits a senior center or nursing home, print several copies of a poem to share and give it to the people you see when you visit that day. Or ask the person at the information desk if you can leave a pile of poems for visitors to take to their loved ones.
Encourage people to ask you about your poem. You can do this by wearing a sticker on your shirt or bookbag that says, “It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day! Ask me about my favorite poem.”
If your family members take their lunch to school or work, slip a poem into their lunch bags. Better yet, put in two poems—one for them to keep and one for them to give away to a friend!
Come up with creative ways to share your poem if you don’t want to print out or write out your poem on paper. For example, you could write a short poem on the back of your hand and read it out loud to people you meet.
No matter how you decide to celebrate, you can make Poem in Your Pocket Day special and fun for yourself—and everyone you meet. Just choose a poem to share, and the possibilities are endless!
In the last Rhythm in Poetry lesson, we talked about the “iamb,” a two-syllable poetic foot with the stress on the second syllable. The reverse of the iamb is called the “trochee” (pronounced TRO-kee). Like the iamb, the trochee is a two-syllable foot. But instead of being stressed on the second syllable, trochees are stressed on the first syllable. For example, the word “today” is an iamb because we emphasize the “day” not the “to.” (That is, we say “to-DAY,” not ‘TO-day.”) But the word “candy” is a trochee, because we emphasize the “can” and not the “dy.” (It’s pronounced “CAN-dee,” not “can-DEE.”) Look at it like this:
To view the poems on Poetry4kids.com organized by reading level, simply click on Poems by Reading Level in the menu. My hope is that this will help make it easier for teachers to select poems at an appropriate reading level for their students.
The poems are sorted by grade level based on their ATOS readability score, the reading level system used by the Accelerated Reader program. Because these scores are computer generated, they may not be 100% accurate, but should still make it easier to find poems suitable for students of any given age.
Once you select a poem, you can always find out more about it’s grade level measures and text statistics (number of words, number of lines, average word length, etc.) by scrolling down to the bottom of the poem’s page.
Congratulations to the winners of the 2014 TIME for Kids Poetry Contest! I had so much fun reading all the entries and selecting the winners, plus a few “honorable mentions.” There were over 2100 entries this year; the most ever!
The grand-prize winning poem this year was by 10-year-old Benjamin Ecsedy. His poem “Mess” was absolutley wonderful. His prizes include a free autographed copy of my book The Armpit of Doom and a free online author visit for his class.
In addition to Benjamin’s wonderfully funny poem, the runner-up winners were “Stranded in Paradise” by 14-year-old John Vernaglia, “My Elephant” by 10-year-old Maddy Harmon, and “Expelled” by 12-year-old Ella Smith.
A big congratulations to all of the winners and honorable mentions, and to all of the kids who took the time to write a poem and submit it. If I could have, I would have picked a hundred winners. There were at least that many poems that were true winners in my eyes.
I visit a lot of schools every year, and every once in a while I meet a student whose mother is a teacher at the school. Once I even met a boy who’s father was the Principal! And I always wondered what kinds of funny things might happen to a student whose mother was also his or her teacher. Here’s one thing I think might happen.
If you ever find yourself writing a poem that involves music, especially a list poem, you may find it helpful to have a list of musical instruments and musical terms that rhyme with one another. Here are some common ones that you could use:
Autoharp / harp / sharp
Bach / rock
Band / baby grand / band stand / grand / music stand
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.
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!)
Here’s a type of poem that absolutely anybody can write, even if you’re sure that you have no idea how to write a poem. That’s because it’s a poem about not being able to write a poem! You won’t even have to think up a title for this poem, since you can use the very first line as the title.
The key to success in writing this type of poem is to let your imagination go wild. Your poem might start off with an ordinary excuse, but as the poem goes on, the excuse can get crazier and crazier.
Here are a few different first lines you could use to begin your poem: