Friday, August 31, 2012

It's Poetry Friday! Poetry Leaves a Lasting Impression!

Plan To Take a "Poetry Break!"

Taking a "Poetry Break!" is easy and fun!   Anyone can do it!  Simply take a few minutes out of your day to share a poem or two with your students, your friend, your family, a pet, or anyone else that you'd like to read or recite a poem to!

There is only one rule for poem selection: you must like your selected poem!  Teachers, librarians, and parents, you can select a poem that is seasonal, relates to a holiday or theme, aligns with curriculum or a unit of study, or is simply a poem that piques your interest. 

I live in the same neighborhood as the school in which I teach, so I often see students from school as I am out walking my dogs.  Last night as I strolled with the dogs, I heard a little voice shout, "Hey! That's my Poetry Teacher!"  I wasn't able to see exactly where the voice was coming from but I knew that it was the voice of a student in one of the classrooms where I have conducted my weekly "Poetry Breaks!"  I am still smiling and have a warm and fuzzy feeling inside!  Sharing poems is so much fun for me and I like to think that I am having a positive impact on the students that experience the poems!  Hearing that child as he recognized me (even as I had passed and was on my way down the street) and recalled with such enthusiasm, that I was his "Poetry Teacher," was like hearing him recite a beautiful poem to me!

Poems stick with you!  I am reminded of Jack's sentiments in Sharron Creech's wonderful verse novel, Hate That Cat.

I only understood about half the words in that poem but like you said sometimes that is okay because we felt all those bells and we heard all those bells crazily ringing in their tintinnabulation! (20).
When it comes to poetry, Jack's teacher, Miss Stretchberry, has had an obvious impact on him . . . 
It's strange that now when you read a poem to the class I hear alliteration popping out everywhere.  I never heard it before or maybe I heard the sounds or didn't know why they were sticking in my head (37).

Hate That Cat is the sequel to Sharron Creech's verse novel, Love That Dog Both books are excellent examples of how poetry can effect students! 

Read more about Love That Dog at Sharron Creech's website (click here):

Read more about Hate That Cat at Sharron Creech's website (click here): 

Make sure you also check out Ms. Creech's excellent teacher's guides for these novels.  Click here to download them from her "Teach Creech" section of her website.

Taking a "Poetry Break!" is a way to make a lasting impression on your students (not to mention fun and motivating!)!  

Be sure to check out all of the wonderful poetry resources that are showcased in today's "Poetry Friday" Round-Up.  Visit Sylvia Vardell's excellent blog at, Poetry for Children!  It's a treasure trove of poetry resources!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

It's Poetry Friday! Planning for the School Year Ahead



Selecting Poems for "Poetry Break!"

An Excellent First Poetry Experience:

Besides presenting an actual "Poetry Break!" one of my most favorite things to do is search for just the right poem.  I am always on the lookout for new poetry collections and anthologies but I love rereading through my collection of books.  One of my most favorite anthologies of poems for young children is Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young selected by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown.

Well-known and loved poet, Jack Prelutsky has selected many short and wonderfully child-like poems by numerous poets.  Poems are grouped together by popular themes and topics of childhood, such as; play, animals, seasons, holidays, foods, weather, daily routines, and much more.  Every page contains two or three short poems that are accompanied by Marc Brown's (award-winning author and illustrator of the Arthur books) delightfully playful, color illustrations. 
Poem seekers will find helpful indexes, listing poems by first line, title, and by author.  

Check out this great Reader's Guide for Parents and Educators. Jack Prelutsky offers great advice for sharing this book with young children!

Read-aloud expert, Jim Trelease provides readers with an interesting and insightful introduction to this poetry anthology that was created with the youngest of children in mind.  Trelease makes this excellent point about the value and importance of sharing poetry with children:

Unlike the toys we buy our children, poems cannot break.  Their flavor will last longer than a hundred boxes of candy.  They come already assembled and need only one battery - a reader connected to one child.  And that reader can start a glow that lasts a lifetime. 

Go ahead . . . "ignite the glow" in a child today - take time for a "Poetry Break!"

Today's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted at  Dori Reads.  Be sure to check out all of the wonderful poetry posts!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

AudioBook Jukebox: Review

Trouble with Fang

Title: The Trouble with Fang: Batsons
Author: Ron Fontes, Justine Fontes
Narrator: Full Cast
Publisher/Date: AudioComics, 2012
Format: MP3
Total Length: 27:56

AudioComics introduces a new comic series about a monster family, The Batsons, who live in the Halloween town of Flemme Falls.  The Trouble with Fang is the first episode in which listeners meet Fang, the youngest Batson.  Fang's family is disturbed and frustrated with the fact that he is a kind and well-mannered boy, opposed to what they'd like him to be - mean, nasty and quite frankly, like a monster.  Fang is in trouble at school because he does his homework, uses good manners, is well-behaved in class, and is respectful to his teacher.  Fang is also in trouble at home; he doesn't attempt to murder his sister and he actually apologizes to her.  What is a monster family to do with such a well-behaved child?  Listeners will be entertained by the antics of the Batson family as they try to deal with their troublesome Fang. 

This audio comic is presented in full cast narration: with accompanying music and sound effects.  Although the full cast production adds a great deal of interest and appeal for listeners, it may be a bit loud and over stimulating for some.  Background noises and effects can, at times, be distracting from the narration of the tale. 

The characters in the Batson family will be interesting and appealing to comic lovers both young and young-at-heart.  Listeners will enjoy following the plot and character development in this episode about the "monster-nice-guy," Fang and eagerly await the next installment of the adventures of the Batson family and their escapades. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Introducing Mother Goose Monday!

Mother Goose celebrated her special day (Mother Goose Day is May 1) by reading some of her favorite books! 

Nursery rhymes are often the first forms of poetry that young children are exposed to.  There are many wonderful collections of nursery rhymes that are excellent choices for reading aloud or for selecting  a rhyme or two to feature each week in a classroom, library, or in the home. 

With that said, it makes sense that Mother Goose titles (whether they are collections of many rhymes or a single title devoted to illustrating one rhyme), make excellent Book Breaks!  I will dedicate Monday as the day of the week to highlight both the older classic editions of Mother Goose books and the latest and greatest titles.  Additionally, I will share a rhyme or two that the kindergarteners at my school are reciting and enjoying.   

Each week at school, I conduct a Mother Goose visit to kindergarten classrooms.  It works much the same way as a Poetry or Book Break!  My goal is to expose the students to nursery rhymes that they may or may not, yet  have been introduced to.  The focus is on promoting rich language and literacy experiences.  During the fun and interactive visit from Mother Goose, the children are exposed to a myriad of skills, including: phonological awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and a host of other valuable learning experiences. 

Join me on Mondays and we'll take a Book Break together with Mother Goose!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Introducing Book Expotitions!

"Going on an Expotition?" said Pooh eagerly.  "I don't think I've ever been on one of those."  "Where are we going to on this Expotition?" 
from Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

  by Amy Merrill1
a photo by AmyMerrill1 on Flickr.

Taking Time for a Book Break While Out & About:

ANY place is a great place to read! But there are certain locations that are extra special!  Like many people, I always have something good to read in my purse or bag!  Over the last couple of years, I have made it a point to take literacy-related pictures in front of, inside of, or somewhere  near an interesting place.  Some interesting places to read or be reminded of a particular book, poem, or character are; libraries, bookstores, tourist attractions, museums, different spots in nature, and any other nook or cranny that a reader finds appealing.  Basically, ANYWHERE has the potential to be a great reading Expotition!  Whenever and wherever I am, there's the opportunity for a literary adventure!  

Whether it be in an ordinary location, like a doctor's office waiting room or in a fun and unique location, like that of a vacation spot, I feel that it is extremely important to share with children that reading a great book, magazine, comic book, or poem at any place and at at any time, is an adventure in and of itself!

Taking a Book Break on a front porch is a real treat!

What "Expotitions" have you been on lately?  Where and when have you taken the time for a Book Break?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Introducing Poetry Friday!

Friday will be the day that I devote to highlighting poetry books, poetry websites, student poems, teacher's poetry activities, ways to present and share poetry, poet spotlights, and anything else that has to do with poetry!

The upcoming school year will begin my fifth year of conducting "Poetry Breaks!"(wow!  I can't believe it has been five years already!) with students at Calvin Coolidge elementary school.   "Poetry Breaks!" are an excellent way to share poetry with children.  To read more about the specifics of "Poetry Breaks!" check out my poetry virtual library at Pocketful of Poems.

I am always on the lookout for anything and everything to do with poetry!  This summer I have been pouring over my piles of poetry books in search of just the right poems to share with students and teachers.  I have many tried and true favorites but I also love to find new gems to add to my "Poetry Breaks!"  

Here is one of my favorite poetry resources!

Poetry break book a video by Amy Merrill1 on Flickr.

For lots of poetry treats, check out this week's host of Poetry Friday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Break Musings

For the last several days I have been pondering a variety of post possibilities.  Actually, I have been considering them for months - even prior to the blog's creation!  The ideas have been swirling around in my head, causing me to not post anything until I had it all figured out.  I then decided that it would be best to simply begin by sharing my thoughts on all of the possibilities.  The following are some thoughts on possible topics and formats for Book Breaks! 

* "Mother Goose Mondays" - 
 a journey into the wonderfully, wide world of nursery rhyme books and more!

 * "Poetry Fridays"
a great way to share fabulous poetry anthologies, collections, websites, student writing, and teacher writing as well as a way to feature the work of individual published poets.

* "The Reading Expotition" (spoken like a true A.A. Milne fan) -
 weekend musings about perfect places to take a Book Break!

The following are other possible topics:

* author interviews
* author spotlight/showcase
* character spotlight/showcase
* author birthday celebrations
* book birthdays (the celebration of newly published books)
* incredible information books
* middle grade must-reads
* picture book pondering

Please leave a comment or send me a message letting me know if you have any other thoughts on  what you'd like to read about children's books and their authors.

Until next time . . . make sure to take a Break and READ a great Book! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Book Break Essentials: A Great Bag

The first and most essential ingredient for a Book Break is, of course booksSince I travel from classroom to classroom, it is also essential that I have a sturdy and attractive bag to tote my books around.  As an educator, I believe it is in my genes to search for and collect fun and unique bags and totes!  For Book Break, I decided to use an old favorite: a Mary Engelbreit print, "Books Fall Open, You Fall In!"  Although this certainly served its purpose of holding new and old books, it is time for a change!  

I am so very excited to start filling my brand new Book Break Bag with lots of treasured tomes (although I have to confess, I have already been using it on my trips to the public library!)!  This beauty was presented to me at the end of the school year by my first-ever Book Break Buddies - Mrs. Anastos and her  fabulous, first-grade students!  What an amazingly awesome gift!  Besides sporting two of my most favorite characters (Mo Willems' Gerald and Piggie), it is extra roomy (as Mrs. Anastos pointed out, it will hold MORE books!)!  I am already loading it with my first Book Break goodies for September!  

A great big THANK YOU to Mrs. A. and her students!!!  Books ARE a Big Deal!

If you love this bag as much as I do and wonder where Tricia found this treasure, check out this website: 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is a Book Break?

As a Reading Specialist, I have always taken the time to read aloud great children's books to my students.  As I pursued a degree in School Library and Information Technologies, I began to further explore the vast and wonderful world of children's and young adult literature.  My interest and love for books and reading has only continued to grow and I wanted to be able to share the amazing world of books with both children and adults!  That is how I began to implement a booktalking program that I fondly refer to as my Book Breaks!  

I was already conducting a weekly Poetry Break, an idea that I have explained in my poetry wiki,, so it seemed to be a natural way to explore booktalks with the students in my elementary school.  Last year was my "pilot" year for implementing Book Breaks.  Since I was already conducting the Poetry Breaks with first grade classrooms, I began with the offer to conduct a weekly Book Break as well.  One of my colleagues, Tricia Anastos, eagerly scheduled Book Breaks for her class on Thursday mornings at 8:45.  Every week at this time, I would appear at her classroom door, blowing my train whistle to announce my arrival with an exciting new book (or books, I often couldn't resist the opportunity to share more than one title, especially when so many books can be grouped together according to one theme or another)!  

Tricia and her students were always so very excited and eager to see what I was bringing in my book bag!  Many of the books that I shared were newly released publications that I had recently purchased at the bookstore or a conference.  Sometimes the books were award winners (which always sparked great conversations!).  Other times, I brought signed copies of titles and was able to tell a little tale of how I had been able to meet the author/illustrator (usually showing a picture of myself with the author/illustrator - it is a great way to demonstrate that authors/illustrators are REAL people!).  Still other books that I brought to share with my eager first grade friends were old favorites!  

A Book Break generally lasts between five and ten minutes.  During that time, I give a brief booktalk, which simply means talking about a book and getting the audience interested in reading it.  I will be sharing some of my Book Break highlights from the past school year, as well as new Book Breaks, as the upcoming school year unfolds.  I will share how I use a variety of techniques and tools to promote the  books in my Book Breaks.  Some of the techniques and tools include the use of puppets, props, pictures, photographs, videos, book trailers, and more. 

I am also very excited to be expanding my Book Breaks!  At our annual end-of-year literacy data meeting, Tricia shared with colleagues and administrators, how much she and her students enjoyed their weekly foray into the world of children's books.  She shared that her students were so interested and motivated to read books and explore other books by the same author.  Additionally, Tricia and our library staff, shared with me that the students would actually argue about who got the books first to be able to check them out of the library!  Now I will be visiting at least two additional classrooms to conduct Book Breaks!  Thanks for having me and my books, Tricia!