April is finally here and libraries, schools and poets across the country are celebrating National Poetry Month. This important celebration began 25 years ago in 1996 as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the role of poetry in our lives and to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to read and write poetry.
I must confess that poetry was not my favorite genre until I discovered the works of Jaqueline Woodson and my all time favorite, Jason Reynolds. Now I relish the opportunity to share their work and other books, poets and activities to celebrate this glorious anniversary.
Full of Chicago's West Side flavor and spirit is the funny and heartwarming book Simon B. Rhymin' written by Dwayne Reed, otherwise known as "Chicago's rapping teacher." Follow 5th grader Simon Barnes who secretly calls himself Notorious D.O.G. and aspires to be like the famous Chicago rappers he admires. Hip hop style verses are woven throughout so readers can try to rap & flow as they read.
A 2019 ALA Youth Media Award winner, They Call Me Güero, speaks to my personal experiences growing up in this country with immigrant parents. Our saying, "Soy de aqui y de alla - I am from here and there," captures bicultural experiences, joys and struggles.
For Younger Children
Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, author of 2018's Best of the Best, Grandma's Purse, gives us another charming and colorful book of poems for girls. Perfect for any daughters, nieces and everyone in your life who feels like a girl and sometimes needs to be reminded that pimples don't determine their beauty or self-worth.
For the Babies
Even babies can join in on the fun when adults read Little Poems for Tiny Ears, illustrated by literary giant Tomie de Paola. Twenty-three poems capture all the joys, giggles, burps and peek-a-boos of a baby's world.
- Take advantage of the sunny days and head outside for sidewalk chalk poetry! Draw pictures and create silly poems or haikus.
- Join the virtual Citywide After School Poetry Party to play fun games and make cool crafts!
- Kids in grades 5 through 12 can write a letter to a poet and then submit it to be a part of Dear Poet 2021.
How will you celebrate National Poetry Month?