Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reading: Pocket Poems Selected by Bobbi Katz

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"With a poem in your pocket and a pocket in your pants, you can rock with new rhythms.  You can sing. You can dance.  Wherever you go, whatever you do, [...] that poem in your pocket will be a part of you," Bobbi Katz writes in the introduction to Pocket Poems, a compilation of 54 children's poems published in 2004 by Dutton Children's Books.  

I like Pocket Poems because the poems are short and easy to memorize for young readers.  I can imagine this poem book being utilized throughout the year with each student receiving an assigned "pocket" cut-out on a bulletin board with new poems in place to read or to hold new poems that the child has written to become a part of him, as Katz suggests in the opening poem.  

Pocket Poems includes a variety of poems, from shape poems to rhyming poems to bilingual poems!  I like this variety and think that all of the poems, while different, include poetic language and will be easy for students to decipher.  One of my favorite poems is called "Jack Frost" written by Helen Bayley David and goes like this: 

"Someone painted pictures on my window pane last night - Willow trees with trailing boughs and flowers - frosty white.  And lovely crystal butterflies; But when the morning sun touched them with its golden beams, they vanished one by one!"  

I love the rhythm of the above poem, and think it's an excellent poem to be used when teaching the comprehension strategy of visualizing!  Imagine: Crystal butterflies!  Willow trees with trailing boughs!  And the touch of sun beams!  Children would enjoy drawing what they see when the poem is read-aloud to them.  Perhaps teachers could save the title for last and let the students try to piece together the clues and figure out what the painted pictures are from.   

There are also poems that can be used across the curriculum to extend students' learning.  For example, the poems "The Period" and "The Question Mark" are rhythmically enjoyable and short with only four-sentences each.  They will be easy for students to memorize, and also emphasize the importance of these punctuation marks.  Some of the excerpted poems are written from authors that I am familiar with, such as Emily Dickinson and Carl Sandburg.   These poems could lead themselves to further study of these authors.  And all of the poems include some sort of colorful, vivid, child-appropriate illustration that helps breathe life into each piece of writing.  

I enjoyed reading Pocket Poems and found it to be an easily-accessible book for my third graders to read and understand, too.  There are a variety of poems for any occasion that children will enjoy and remember.  To find a poem for your pocket, visit your local library to check out this winning compilation. 

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