Category: News

Favorite Thanksgiving Poems to Read Aloud

Chances are, your Thanksgiving celebration usually includes a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and perhaps a chance for each family member to say what he or she is grateful for. But this year you can add a new and fun twist to your family’s Thanksgiving tradition by giving poetry a place in the festivities. Reading a poem aloud is an engaging way to bring attention to what is most sacred and special about this holiday.

Here are four Thanksgiving poems that are wonderful to read out loud, either in unison (all voices together) or by taking turns reading each verse.

“Over the River and Through the Wood” by Lydia Maria Child

If this Thanksgiving poem sounds familiar, it’s probably because a version of it has been set to music. In the song version, some of the lyrics are about Christmas rather than Thanksgiving. Here is an excerpt from the original poem:

World Rat Day by J. Patrick Lewis

World Rat Day by J. Patrick Lewis

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 November, 2013 is World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of by J. Patrick Lewis.

Interview with Children’s Poet J. Patrick Lewis

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

Halloween Poetry Fun

jack-o-lantern

This week I posted some “Grave Humor” on the Poems page. These are epitaphs that might cause you to laugh if you found them on headstones in a cemetery. But if you are looking for more spooky/funny poems to read or share this year, here are a handful of other poems I wrote especially for Halloween.

If you want even more spooky poems, click here to read all of the monster poems currently on poetry4kids.com.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Rhythm in Poetry – I Am the Iamb

William Shakespeare

When poets write rhyming, metrical poems, they usually count “feet” instead of syllables. A foot is a group of syllables that, most of the time, contains a single stressed syllable. (Read Rhythm in Poetry – The Basics, and You Can Scan, Man for more information about stressed syllables and poetic feet.)

Meet the Iamb

The most common poetic foot in the English language is known as the “iamb.” An iamb is two syllables, where the first syllable is unstressed and the second syllable is stressed. For example, the word “today” is an iamb because the stress falls on the second syllable, like this:

- /
today

When a poems is written using iambs, we say that it is “iambic.” For example, the following line is iambic.

- /   - /   - /  -   /
Today I had a rotten day.

Rhythm in Poetry – You Can Scan, Man

Scansion in Poems

As I explained in Rhythm in Poetry – The Basics, some syllables in English are “stressed” – pronounced louder or with more emphasis than others – while other syllables are “unstressed,” meaning they are not emphasized. Knowing this, you can create patterns of stressed and unstressed syllables in your writing to create a rhythm in the words. Having rhythms in your poems make them more fun to recite and easier to remember.

To make it easy to spot the stressed and unstressed syllables in the examples I gave, I wrote them in UPPERCASE and lowercase letters, like this:

my PUPpy PUNCHED me IN the EYE.

The trouble with using this method is that it is awkward to write or type this way, and it makes the poem more difficult to read. Also, if you have a poem that is already printed on paper, you wouldn’t want to have to rewrite the entire thing just to show the rhythm.

Wouldn’t it be better if could make marks to show the stressed and unstressed syllables? Indeed, there is such a system that is commonly used, and it’s called “scansion” (pronounced “scan-shun”). The process of marking the stressed and unstressed syllables in a poem is called “scanning.”

Printable Poetry Activity Worksheets for Kids

I thought you might like to know that I’ve started putting printable poetry activity worksheets for some of my poems on the website. You’ll find them on the Poetry Activities page under the heading “Worksheets.”

You can use these worksheets at home or in class to give kids a few more fun activities to do beyond just reading the poems. By answering questions, writing, and even unscrambling words, kids will get a little more practice to help improve their comprehension and literacy.

huge thank you to Primary Leap for creating a number of these wonderful activity worksheets! Visit their website for thousands more printable activity worksheets for kids organized by grade level and subject.

Here are direct links to the activity worksheets I’ve posted so far. Enjoy!

Worksheets

Rhythm in Poetry – The Basics

When you read rhyming poetry, one of the things you might notice is how the words often have a nice rhythmical quality. That is, there is a pattern to the rhythm of the words that makes them fun to say and easy to remember. Sometimes the rhythm is a simple one, and sometimes it’s more complex, but it’s not there by accident. Poets arrange their words in such a way as to create those rhythmical patterns.

When rhyming poems also have a rhythm in the words, they are much more fun to read. By contrast, rhyming poems that do not have a rhythm are usually not as enjoyable to read.

Over the next several lessons, I’m going to show you how to identify the rhythms in poems and how to write rhythmical poems of your own so that others will enjoy reading them.

How to Write an Alliteration Poem

Writing Alliteration Poems

A fun and easy kind of poem to write is what I call an “alliteration poem.” Alliteration is when you repeat the beginning consonant sounds of words, such as “big blue baseball bat” or “round red robin.”

Writing alliteration poems is a terrific creativity exercise. Not only is it an easy way to write a poem, it’s a great way to get your brains working. You’ll need to think of a lot of alliterative words, and then form them into rhyming sentences.

Writing an Alliteration Poem in Five Easy Steps

Step 1: To write an alliteration poem, first pick a consonant. It can be any letter of the alphabet except for the vowels a, e, i, o, or u. For example, let’s say you choose the letter “B.”

Announcing PoetryMinute.org

Poetry Minute

During the past few months, since becoming the Children’s Poet Laureate, I have been hard at work on a new project: A brand new website called PoetryMinute.org, and I would like to tell you about it so you can start using it in your classrooms.

Over the years that I have been reading and writing children’s poems, I have noticed that many, possibly most, poems written for children can be read in an average of about one minute. Because of this, I have always encouraged teachers to share a poem with their students every day. It only takes a minute of the entire school day, and yet it gives students a break from their routine in a way that also encourages them to want to read and write, and improves their fluency and literacy.

I call this a “Poetry Minute.” It’s one minute out of your school day for poetry. And now it’s easier than ever.

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

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 September, 2013 is Words with Wings, a novel in verse by Nikki Grimes.

Interview with Children’s Poet Nikki Grimes

In addition, I interviewed Nikki about her life as a poet and about her new book. Here is what she had to say.