Middle School Teacher in Rural Alaska


on March 25, 2012

You wouldn’t think that adding just two books to your classroom library would change your instruction that much.  Two new books among hundreds of other books shouldn’t be a huge deal. But, when I added Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children these two books completely changed my poetry instruction and the way students thought about poetry.

This fall, thanks to the wonderful support of DonorsChoose, I added Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children to my classroom. As the name implies these books are both poetry collections designed for children.  The poems in these books are very kid friendly and are supported by wonderful illustrations.  Yet, the thing that really makes these books stand out is that they come with an audio CD where the poets read the poems aloud!

One day after my students had been reading silently I opened up itunes on my smartboard, put the book under the document camera, and played Charles R. Smith’s “Allow Me To Introduce Myself.” The students loved listening to this and asked me to play it again and again and again. There is something pretty special about listening to the poet read his or her own work.  Listening to a poet read his or her work gives you such a good sense of the mood and tone of the poem. And, it really is just FUN to listen to these poems!

After I discovered that my students loved listening to these poems we listened to one each day as a whole class and then analyzed the poems. The students really enjoyed this time. It has also been a great time to review literary terms, practice close reading skills, and do some great critical thinking.

Coincidentally, the first grade teacher in my building also bought these books over the summer and has been using them with her students as well. While she and I use them in different ways, this is a great book for students of all ages.

The bottom line here is that if you are looking to add more poetry into your classroom you HAVE to get these two books.


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