Apr 6, 2019

Celebrating National Poetry Month

When I was in school, many of the poems we had to read a) made no sense and b) were therefore kind of boring. As I've gotten older, my appreciation for poetry has grown and I've also noticed that children's poetry collections in particular have really blossomed. Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are classic children's poets that have certainly paved the way and made poetry more accessible and fun for kids, but today I want to highlight some other notable poetry in GMPL's collection as well as share a few ideas for how you can celebrate National Poetry Month at home.

If you've been in the children's area at GMPL, you've probably noticed this shelf where we like to display books relating to a certain theme. It's not always obvious - we've done books with numbers in the titles, books with blue covers, books about ghosts. This month we've included not only poetry books but also novels written in verse, or a story told through a series of poems. The books in the display change slightly throughout the month as people check them out (please check them out - they're not just for show!), but the theme remains the same. My favorites in this current display are:

- Mirror, Mirror, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josée Masse. This book, and its sequel, Follow, Follow (click the titles to place a hold) are known as reverso poetry. A reverso poem is one that can be read both forwards and backwards. Here's an example from Mirror, Mirror called "The Road".

It may be such
a fairy-tale secret,
this much 
I know;
The road leads
you need to go.

You need to go
the road leads --
I know
this much.
A fairy-tale secret?
It may be such.

Pretty cool, right?

- Enchanted Air: A Cold War Memoir by Margarita Engle. This collection of poems tells the story of author Margarita Engle's childhood during the Cold War in Cuba. Before I read this, I hadn't had much knowledge of the Cold War (the school year always seemed to end before we had time to cover it in history). This first-hand account of this tumultuous period is beautiful and heartbreaking while also being easily digestible because of its verse format. 

If you'd like to celebrate National Poetry Month by creating your own poetry, here are a few activities to try:

1. Ekphrastic Poetry: Choose five photographs (either taken by you/someone you know or found via an image search on the internet. Unsplash is a great free resource for beautiful photography). Think about how they make you feel, and use your five senses when writing your poem. There is no length limit and there are no rules!

2. Blackout Poetry: Find a newspaper, magazine, or old book (be sure to ask permission first!). Find a page with lots of words on it and draw a circle or square around words you want to include in your poem. Using a marker or pen with dark ink, color over all of the other words except the words you selected for your poem. Here's what Miss Liz's finished product looks like:


3. Make your own magnetic poetry: 

You will need:
  • Magnetic tape (½ inch wide). You can find this at craft stores.
  • Plain white paper


  1. Come up with 50-100 different words. Make sure you have:
  • Nouns (people, places, things)
  • Adjectives (words that describe nouns like “funny” or “big”)
  • Verbs (action words like “sing” or “laugh”)
  • Adverbs (words that describe verbs like “slowly” or “always”)
  • Articles (a, an, the)
  • Conjunctions (and, or, but)
  1. You can either hand write these words or type them up. Use a 16 point font that is easy to read and double space between the lines of words so there is enough room to cut them out. Press “Tab” between each word.
  2. Once all of your words are cut out, stick them to the magnetic tape. Be sure the entire word is backed by the magnetic tape before you cut the strip.
  3. Create poems with your words!

***Alternatively, you can cut words out of magazines or newspapers that inspire you instead of coming up with your own.

If you try out any of these activities, let us know. We'd love to see!