It’s National Poetry Month, an observance begun by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Looking for ways to celebrate? Possibilities abound, and there’s no better way to begin than with The Walking Classroom’s podcasts on poets, poems and poetry topics!
Pick a Poet (or More than a Few!)
Explore the world of reclusive poet Emily Dickinson (4-#38, Complete-#28). Use books to have a look into her life, or take a peek into her poems! Start with Michael Bedard’s picture book, Emily (580L). Beautifully illustrated by Barbara Cooney, it presents a fictionalized meeting between Emily Dickinson and a young neighbor.
Fascinated by this account? Then peruse another picture book! Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World (580L), written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, shares the story of how Emily Dickinson’s poems were discovered. Although small by picture book standards (at just 6” by 7.8”), the book’s dimensions mimic those of the hand-bound booklets the poet herself created!
If you are ready to encounter another poet, learn about Langston Hughes (4-#16, Complete-#34). Begin with a biography, such as Langston Hughes: Young Black Poet by Montrew Dunham (860L), and follow up with some poems from picture book editions of his works!
- The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (illustrated by Brian Pinkney)
- I, Too, Am America (illustrated by Bryan Collier)
Meet Maya Angelou (4-#17, Complete-#37) through Ellen Labrecque’s Who Was Maya Angelou? (900L). If you need a quick read, Lisbeth Kaiser’s Maya Angelou is a great option. This simple yet informative biography is part of the “Little People, Big Dreams” series. Then, to bring Angelou’s poetry to life, try an activity based on one of her poems!
Explore Some Pulitzer Prize Winners Too!
Introduce your students to one (or two!) Pulitzer Prize winners through a podcast and book pairing. Learn about Carl Sandburg (4-#24, Complete-#35), and read Barbara Mitchell’s Good Morning Mr. President: A Story about Carl Sandburg (780L). This book presents a fictionalized portrait of the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, who was renowned for his biography of Abraham Lincoln (for which he won one of his awards) and for his poetry!
Enjoy the natural imagery of Robert Frost (4-#23, Complete-#33), and explore two beautifully illustrated books. Each focuses on a different Frost poem, so your students can then compare and contrast!
- Birches (illustrated by Ed Young)
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (illustrated by Susan Jeffers)
When you’re finished sharing samples, challenge your students to devise their own examples! Still seeking more poetry material? Explore other literary elements and learn some additional poetry terminology too!
And, be on the lookout for another post in a week or two with even more ideas for National Poetry Month!