Showering Students with Short Texts—Top 10 Poetry Books For Any Day, Not Just a Rainy Day in April by Dionna N. Roberts
In honor of February being the shortest month of the year, I would like to dedicate this top ten list to poetry—one of my favorite forms of short text. Short texts are sure to engage and inspire readers of all ages. There’s something about rhythm and rhyme that engages young people and causes them to listen up. As a child who loved music and words, I learned to read by noticing patterns and sounds in words. I could often be found in comfy spaces rapping or singing a book rather than simply reading it! Poetry can be incorporated into your classroom instructional practices of reading and writing all year long. Typically, we teacher types get overjoyed about poetry right around the end of March just in time National Poetry Month (April). Might I propose that we begin the downpour of poetry in our classrooms now? Students, take cover!
Here are a few survival tips to survive the forecasted word storm:
- Create a section in your classroom library that is dedicated to poetry. Consider having multiple copies of the same text as some students will enjoy the option of reading with a buddy.
- Set aside time daily for poetry to be read aloud. This is a great way to familiarize students with poetic devices and have their ears take in all that this genre has to offer.
- Use poetry as a way to build reading fluency by using it as repeated reading practice. Because the text is short, and enjoyable, students are more likely to want to reread poems often.
- Consider allowing students to read and hear poetry over a musical beat/rhythm. Instrumental versions of their favorite songs lend themselves well to this, but also a tight beat made on a desktop with tiny hands and fists works just the same.
- Encourage students to write their own poetry or raps after reading and listening to mentor texts for inspiration. Celebrate their writing with snacks and “open-mic style” sharing.
Now let’s get to the list:
Hip-Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
written by Nikki Giovanni
Hip Hop Speaks to Children is a celebration of poetry with a beat. This books comes with a CD that allows readers to hear the poetry’s rhymes and rhythms from Queen Latifah to Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes to A Tribe Called Quest and more!
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups
written by Chris Harris
Not all poetry has to rhyme and poetry is known for breaking the rules of writing. This book of poetry is silly, surprising, and sometimes surly in wordplay. It is sure to keep your readers wanting to read, write and hear more.
Reaching the Stars: Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls
written by Liz Brownlee, Jan Dean, and Micahela Morgan
Who runs the world? Girls! This collection of brand new poems is all about amazing women and girls who did what they needed to do no matter what society thought. The poems are about role models both real and fictional. Malala, global spokesperson for education for girls; Rosa Parks, who became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation; Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein when she was only 19; and Valentina Tereshkova, who became the first woman in space.
I Don’t Like Poetry
written by Joshua Seigal
With poems on every topic from the power of books to the joys of fried chicken, this collection is packed with humor, rhythm and rhyme. The title suggests that the author is not a fan of poetry, however judging by the way that he writes—totally a lie. If your students don’t like poetry, I guarantee that after reading this, they will absolutely adore it!
One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance
written by Nikki Grimes
Any Nikki Grimes fans out there? I am definitely a fan of this author’s work. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method (Google that!), Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is fresh and thought-provoking. She combines her original work with the work of authors from the Harlem Renaissance to create something new. A must read for all.
I Am a POETato: An A-Z of Poems About People, Pets, and Other Creatures
written by John Hegley
The poems in this collection are arranged alphabetically by title. This work of poetry is funny, witty, and zany. Appeals to both children and adults.
Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys
written by Bob Buczka
This collection of poetry was written with the outdoorsy kid in mind. There are kites to fly. There are puddles to splash in. Pine trees to climb in the summer and maple seeds to catch in the fall. All the fun of outdoor play captured in three short lines. Haiku is structured and has rules, but the fun had in the three lined poems in this book are far from restrictive.
Love to Langston
written by Tony Medina
Fourteen poems offer young readers an exciting glimpse into the life of Langston Hughes, one of America’s most beloved poets. Each poem explores important themes in Hughes’s life. A launch into bio-poems after reading this, perhaps?
What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem
by Judith Viorst
This collection examines an array of feelings of all kinds in a thoughtful, funny, and charming way. Perfect for young readers just learning to sort out their own horrible-terrible-no good-well, now I’m feeling a bit better-days.
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems
written by Bob Raczka
Concrete poetry is a popular poetic form because these poems are fun to look at. By using the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, concrete or shape poems are also easy to write! Let the kids pour over their ideas and have fun with this one.
Dionna N. Roberts is a district K-5 instructional literacy coach and a part-time instructor in the Literacy Studies department at Western Michigan University. She knew she wanted to be a writer ever since her second-grade teacher invited her entire class to memorize and recite a poem they had written for the school-wide holiday program. Even though she was pretty shy as a kid, she loved teaching young writers at the elementary level for 14 years prior to coaching. You will find Dionna in Kalamazoo, MI, hoarding poems and stories in her journals and notebooks.