November 05


Moving Forward by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

There are poems that are perfect in times like these, when we feel frazzled and too tired to tackle much of anything. Poems can calm and center and energize us: “On a Beach” by Suzy Levinson transports us to a balmy beach. Sharing this poem is like giving yourself—and your children—a 30-second winter break.




In HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving [] you’ll find 100 poems to boost your wellness and help you get through the day—breathing, stretching, dancing, marching, standing up, or even just doing a little “Deskercise” []. Each poem is presented with five bubbles that offer:


—suggestions for moving with the poem

—a fun fact, often with a science or social studies connection

—a spot illustration

—a poetry skill (explained in the back matter)

—a picture book pairing for reading later






For the poem “This One” by Paul W. Hankins, we suggest that you lead your students in swiping motions with your finger (like you’re on a cell phone or conducting an imaginary band). Mention a surprisingly low-tech example of how early iPod prototypes were made and you’ll give students a new perspective on engineering. Introduce the concept of concrete poetry to get them looking at language arts with fresh eyes. Finally, share an invitation to dive into hip-hop in The Roots of Rap by Carole Boston Weatherford and you’ll remind them that there are picture books for all ages about anything they might be interested in.


You can share a poem from this book (or any poem) as an impromptu brain break when you need it. These are not poems to save up for a “unit”; they are meant to be used any day and even repeated every day, to soften our hearts with compassion the way “Everyday Use” []  tells us we must. Hear Zetta Elliott reading her poem here:


For teachers who want to guide students in exploring language skills and poetic forms and techniques, we provide instruction and examples for everything from alliteration to capitalization to meter and rhythm to personification, punctuation, stanzas, and wordplay. If you want to dig even deeper, you’ll also find activity templates in the back matter along with booklists and suggestions for more teaching and learning. For example, take students on a “Poem Hunt” or play poetry Tic Tac Toe. Plan poetry celebrations for special occasions like Poetry Friday or lead the way in “hamming it up” and acting out poems, beginning with using dialogue in poems to jumpstart a dramatic reading. Use the suggested websites to explore online poetry resources like PoetryMinute [], read about ways to serve your community with Random Acts of Kindness [], or get physically active with Move Your Way []. And if you want to gather even more poetry books, we suggest poetry books with a focus on social justice like Voices of Justice by George Ella Lyon and additional books that emphasize sports, dance and movement like Tag Your Dreams by Jacqueline Jules.



The road to justice is indeed a long one—here’s a poem to remind us that change requires continuous action.



by Diane Mayr


Get out the paint and cardboard.

Add words to make a sign.

Gather with a community

whose purposes intertwine.


Changing a culture’s not easy.

You start by changing minds.

Be active in a community

that practices being kind.


Walk for peace and justice.

Leave no one behind.

You’re part of a community

that wants us all to shine.



Poem copyright ©2020 by Diane Mayr

from HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving

by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (Pomelo Books)



Poetry helps us find our inner shine and moves us forward together as a community. Share a poem today; “changing a culture’s not easy,” but we can do it, one poem at a time.



Sylvia M. Vardell ( is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University and teaches graduate courses in children’s and young adult literature. Her current work focuses on poetry for children, including a regular blog,


Janet Wong ( is the author of more than 30 books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including writing and revision, community and inclusion, and yoga. Her current focus is encouraging children to publish their own writing using affordable new technologies.


Together, Vardell & Wong are the creative forces the Poetry Friday books; learn more about them at