Poetry for All Times, Seasons, and Reasons: 2012 Notable Poetry Titles

Article excerpt

Poetry, often considered literature's half-forgotten and poorly regarded stepchild, is often left out of lesson plans for elementary and middle grade classrooms. Perhaps its neglect can be traced to its perceived lack of appeal for children and teachers. Some ofthat blame might be laid at the feet of well-meaning English language arts teachers who over-analyze and sometimes over-complicate poetry by focusing solely on rhyme schemes and symbolism. By taking the fun out of poetry for children, teachers may insure that poetry is something their students will never enjoy. When those students become teachers, they often resolve to avoid poetry as though it were the proverbial plague because of their own negative experiences. Then, too, it isn't easy for over-worked teachers and librarians to identify child-friendly poetry collections since there often seem to be so few poetry books published. One great place for them to familiarize themselves with recent poetic possibilities would be by considering some of the titles selected as exemplary by members of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award Committee. In addition to selecting the biennial winner of the NCTE Excellence in Poetry for Children Award for a poet's body of work, members of the Poetry Committee read, review, and select the poetry titles they consider most outstanding for each year. Among other considerations they ponder appeal to children, originality, and use of language. For the previous year, they have selected 14 volumes of poetry and 4 novels in verse that merit designation as Notable Poetry Titles. These are the poetry books that the committee considers most meritorious and worth consideration for classroom libraries. The selections vary widely in form and topic, ranging from poems about books to informative verses about strange creatures found in the ocean. There are familiar names, such as Arnold Adoff, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Walter Dean Myers among the authors as well as others such as Lee Wardlaw and Anna Grossnickle Hines who may not be as well known as the others but whose poetry captured the committee's attention. All of these poets have something to say and unique ways of expressing their thoughts.

2012 Notable Poetry Titles Grades K-3

Hopkins, Lee Bennett (Ed.). (2011). / am the book. Illus. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House.

One glance at the cover illustration will pique just about anyone's curiosity to browse through this collection of 13 poems written by 13 familiar poets. Extraordinary poets celebrate the power of reading and underscore the importance of books in our lives. Tom Robert Shields' title poem, "I Am the Book" reinforces the transformative power and interconnectedness of words and meaning with these words: "I'll plant in you / a spring-seedling / with bursting life / while you are reading. / I am the book. / You are needing" (unpaged). The colorful illustrations elaborate and extend meaning, encourage imagination, and invite readers to participate in the joyous celebration of art, poetry and reading. A variety of poetry formats grace the pages in an inspired effort to nurture budding poets to experiment with words and to craft their own rhymes and tantalizing phrases.

Rasmussen, Halfdan. (2011). A little bitty man and other poems for the very young. Translated by Marilyn Nelson 6c Pamela Espeland. Illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Somerville, MA: Candlewick.

This captivating and charming collection of 13 poems translated from the original works of Danish poet Halfdan Rasmussen conjures a cozy and imaginative world for young readers. The poetic lines are sometimes delivered with a gentle touch, often playfully silly, and always childlike. In the title poem, a man is small enough to use a snail for his means of transportation while living in "a little bitty house" (p. 8) with a "little bitty lady" (p. 8). The poems themselves contain a lilt and cadence perfectly suited for the young listener, delivered with a soft burst of color through quaint and breezy spot art. …