Thursday, April 24, 2014

Poets on Poetry: MAGARITA ENGLE

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Poetry is an emotional refuge. Prose still has a valuable place in my life, but I don't think it offers the same level of intimacy between author and reader. When you show someone a poem you've written, you've giving them a glimpse of your heart and soul. Everything is right there, out in the open, visible. There is nothing like an uncluttered page of free verse to expose one's innermost self." - Margarita Engle

Complete interview found at YARN.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poets on Poetry: ERIC ODE

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"I'm often convinced children are quite naturally drawn to poetry provided it's presented in a nonthreatening, playful way. that makes my job pretty easy. chldren love to play with words. They recognize rhyme and make up silly rhyming nonsense at the earliest ages. Older children enjoy drawing fresh analogies. They play easily with alliteration and imagery. - Eric Ode

Complete interview by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry or Children.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Poets on Poetry: JANE YOLEN

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"A great poet can make poetry out of a simple walk with a dog, a morning weeding the garden, a startling encounter with a snake, or a sister-in-law living "a hedge away" as Dickinson did. Or write good poetry using that too-often-used muse of bad poets as well as good - love. Shakespeare leaned on that one over and over and over again." - Jane Yolen

Complete interview at Silver Blade.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Poets on Poetry: NIKKI GRIMES

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"I love language. Language is phenomenal. I have always been fascinated that one word can mean many different things. I love the challenge of painting a story in as few words as possible. I'm also a very direct person and poetry is a no-nonsense genre. If it's done well, no words are wasted or minced. That really appeals to my personality. I love that poetry can make a beeline for the heart." - Nikki Grimes


Complete interview at Reading is Fundamental.

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is Here!

Happy Poetry Friday! Please visit rockin' Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for Roundup. I'm very excited to be hosting our Progressive Poem here today, and I'm excited to share the latest line. But first..........

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Without poetry,

stories would be 

told in sepia."

- Ellen Hopkins

How much do I LOVE THAT QUOTE?! Complete interview at The Examiner.



And now! What a delight this year's Progressive Poem has been! We've gone from sitting on a rock to spiraling like an eagle to seeking advice and listening to a voice (who IS that "Irene" anyway? Still feeling shy about my name being in this poem, so I am thinking of my great-grandmother who is my namesake, and who, according to family legend, "never said a bad word about anyone." I wish I could say I've lived up to that. Alas. Something to strive for. And oh, she was wise! She could have said the words in our poem.) to tucking that merry hen's eggs close... and now the reason for our angst, our fear, our journey...


Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;

Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?

Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?

Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.

But, hold it! Let’s get practical! What’s needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I’ll ask my friends what I should stow.

And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low— dreams —
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene’s?

Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.
Determine these dreams—then breathe them! Engage your inner sage.”

The merry hen said, “Take my sapphire eggs to charm your host.”
I tuck them close – still warm – then take my first step toward the coast.

This journey will not make me rich, and yet I long to be
like luminescent jellyfish, awash in mystery.

......
How's this for kismet? The rhyming word "be" brought to us by Margaret allowed me to use "mystery," my One Little Word for 2014! And isn't a state of mystery a great place to be?! Also, I love jellyfish! From a distance, of course... I have some not so pleasant memories of jellyfish stings, but all those dissipate when I see amazing photographs like this one: 
photo found here

So there you have it! Can't wait to see where Julie takes us next!

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a fun tradition. Mwah!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Poets on Poetry: REBECCA KAI DOTLICH

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"I love playing with words, being the puppeteer that dances and places the words on the page using nothing but a pencil or a computer, creative juices, and hard work. Poetry can bring a child further into their world, by sharing some of your own. It is truly a magical thing; spending your days playing with words and metaphors. I love writing poetry for children mostly because I adore children. I love connecting with them in both the silly and noisy hours as well as the tender, quiet ones." - Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Complete interview found at Wild Rose Reader.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Poets on Poetry: KENN NESBITT, CHILDREN'S POET LAUREATE

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Oh, I write all sorts of poems. I just like to make kids laugh, so I write funny poems. And one thing I've noticed is that I can always improve a kids' poem by adding some people running and yelling and screaming." - Kenn Nesbitt


Complete interview by Renee LaTulippe at No Water River.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poets on Poetry: RALPH FLETCHER



In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"If you want to write poetry, you must have poems that deeply move you. Poems you cannot live without. I think of a poem as the blood in a blood transfusion given from the heart of the poet to the heart of the reader. Seek after poems that live inside you, poems that move through your veins." - Ralph Fletcher

Quote found in POETRY FROM A to Z by Paul B. Janeczko.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poets on Poetry: MARY ANN HOBERMAN



In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!
"Well, you’re asking what poetry is, and there have been so many definitions. . . . To me, it’s a recreation, a renewal of language. . . . The subtlety of what words mean and the fact that you write something and all of a sudden you’ll realize that 'yes, it reaches out. It meant that, too.' Then all of a sudden you’ll get a rhyme and the rhyme will throw up a whole new way of looking at things. It’s this relationship that you never dreamed of. A poem really does recreate the language, and that’s what it has to do. A true poem, I think, has to give you that shiver. That, 'yes, it’s never been said quite that way before.'” - Mary Ann Hoberman

Complete interview at Teaching Books. (emphasis mine.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Guest Post: Janet Fagal Brings Us the Next Line in Our 2014 Progressive Poem!

Please join me in welcoming Janet to Live Your Poem!
--------------------------------------------
JANET: I am so happy to participate in the Kidlitosphere’s Progressive Poem again this year, even though I am not a true blogger! For those who may not know me I am a retired teacher, poetry-lover, poetry advocate and poet. I also read many blogs and comment often. Watching third graders embrace all kinds of poetry and poetry opportunities has been the happiest experience of my teaching career, though I only came to it in the last seven years in the classroom! I am thankful to Irene for allowing me to be a guest once again this year on her blog. I was lucky to meet her at NCTE 2012. I so enjoyed the 2012 Progressive Poem and couldn’t wait to read the next line each day. I loved the aura of that poem. Last year I joined in and must have composed 200 versions of my line before I committed! What fun we had with our dancing, daring poem.

And now some time for rhyme and reflection. We have a thinker who is debating, planning, wondering and a gift: some wisdom from Irene. With Mary Lee’s surprise, I could sense our poem turning, but where and how. After much debating I offer the latest line!
Can’t wait to see and hear what happens next.
Sitting on a rock, airing out my feelings to the universe
Acting like a peacock, only making matters that much worse;
Should I trumpet like an elephant emoting to the moon,
Or just ignore the warnings written in the rune?
Those stars can’t seal my future; it’s not inscribed in stone.
The possibilities are endless! Who could have known?
Gathering courage, spiral like an eagle after prey
Then gird my wings for whirlwind gales in realms far, far away.
But, hold it! Let's get practical! What's needed before I go?
Time to be tactical— I'll ask my friends what I should stow.
And in one breath, a honeyed word whispered low—
dreams — 
Whose voice? I turned to see. I was shocked. Irene's?
Each voyage starts with tattered maps; your dreams dance on this page.”
Now on to Deborah, where will these maps and the dancing dreams take us?
Now for some background about Janet for those who may not know her!
Third grade students reciting “School Daze Rap” by Carol Diggory Shields at Poery on Parade Night 2012
I am on FB as Janet Clare and I comment as Janet F. You can see a little of my work in this video. I believe poetry should be at the heart of the classroom and that we should joyfully highlight poems every day, whenever possible, in all kinds of ways and in all subjects. As you can imagine I am a big fan of Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell’s Poetry Friday Anthology books as well as so many new titles by poets I have met because of Poetry Friday and the Kidlitosphere. When I speak at teacher conferences like NCTE, IRA, NYSEC, CRA and NYSRA I focus on bringing the rich world of poetry, new poets and Poetry Friday bloggers into other teachers’ and students’ lives. When I work in schools I share different blog posts and send home links so children can follow on their own.
In my “adopted” third grade class which I visit at least weekly, we continue to learn poems by heart, learn about poetry and poets, write poems and bask in the glow of the words in all the books I bring in to share and read. My life is so much richer thanks to the poets and teachers I have met or learned about online via Facebook, Blogs and at conferences and workshops.

     I advocate learning poems by heart and believe we are all capable of learning more poems than we can imagine. That said, the quantity of amazing work I have found in the last three years makes me wish I had started sooner. And prolific writers like Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and others who write about places I love like the seaside, Kate Coombs and Eric Ode to name two, challenge me to keep adding to my repertoire. Having poetry literally at hand and heart is a true blessing. As Pat Lewis, recent Children’s Poet Laureate has said, “the two worst words in the English language are “poetry unit.” And I completely agree! So do the students I work with who literally cheer when I arrive, but not for me. They say, “Yay! We get to do poetry!” In this day of new standards and high stakes testing I think we all need poetry more than ever. 
--------------------------------------
Ooh, I agree! We all need poetry more than ever. Thank you, Janet! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Poets on Poetry: PAUL B. JANECZKO

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Michelle at Today's Little Ditty for Roundup. Wow, has National Poetry Month been awesome, or what? Our Progressive Poem continues to progress... please visit Linda at Write Time to see where we are!

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"A good poem is like a booster shot of human kindness. We need more of that. I think that's the
'so what' of poetry." - Paul Janeckzo


Complete interview by Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

It was my great pleasure this week to pick up FIREFLY JULY: A Year of Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko with illustrations by Melissa Sweet. I love that there are poems from both children's poets and adult poems, contemporary poets and not contemporary ones. None of the poems has more than ten lines, and the title poem is by J. Patrick Lewis. Really, really lovely.

I offer you one poem for each season:

SPRING

Open-billed
gulls
fighting
for fish heads
creak
like
rusted
gates.

- X.J. Kennedy


SUMMER

Sandpipers

Sandpipers run with
their needle beaks digging -- they're
hemming the ocean.

- April Halprin Wayland


FALL


What is it the wind has lost
that she keeps looking for
under each leaf?

- Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser


WINTER


A wild winter wind
Is tearing itself to shreds
On barbed-wire fences.

- Richard Wright


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poets on Poetry: DOUGLAS FLORIAN



In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"I would offer this advice: Work hard but work smart. Keep your eyes open, your ears open, and your mind open. But close your mouth. Talking too much about a book before you finish it is a mistake. What surprises me is how I'm still able to do this without getting bored or relying on formulas. The industry itself has  become too industrious and not nearly illustrious enough." - Douglas Florian

Complete interview by Matt Forrest Esenwine at Poetry at Play.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poets on Poetry: NAOMI SHIHAB NYE

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!
"...words can give you something back if you trust them; and if you know that you're not trying to proclaim things all the time, but you're trying to discover things.

A little girl said to me, last year: 'Poetry has been eating all my problems.' And I said, 'What do you mean by that?' And she said, 'It just makes me feel better when I read it, or when I write it.' And I think that's been true for many people in this country." - Naomi Shihab Nye


Complete interview with Bill Moyers at PBS.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Poets on Poetry: J. PATRICK LEWIS

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Great poetry is a circus for the brain. It's ten pounds of excitement in a nine-pound bag. But children won't know what that means unless we offer them the best. Soon, they'll be asking for second and third helpings. Even though few children will become poets, poetry helps them realize that one of the most phenomenal gifts humans get free of charge is the English language. And there is nothing in any language more beautiful, more inspiring and thought-provoking than poetry."
- J. Patrick Lewis

  
Complete interview by Sylvia Vardell at The Poetry Foundation.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Poets on Poetry: MARILYN SINGER



In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"When I am on a roll, I will write several poems each day, spending much of the time staring into space and playing with language - or, as my husband puts it, "poetizing." It's a pleasant state to be in, but most particularly when I'm sitting outdoors in the country on warm days with few distractions."  - Marilyn Singer

Read the complete interview at The Miss Rumphius Effect. 

"Poetizing." I love that! :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Poets on Poetry: NIKKI GIOVANNI

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit The Poem Farm for Amy's latest Thrift Store poem... and Poetry Friday Roundup! 

Also, our Progressive Poem is progressing with a parade of animals! Be sure to check in with Anastasia at Poet! Poet! for the latest line.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Poetry is employed by truth. I think our job it to tell the truth as we see it. Don't you just hate a namby-pamby poem that goes all over the place saying nothing. Poets should be strong in our emotions and our words, that might make us difficult to live with, but I do believe easier to love. Poetry is garlic. Not for everyone, but those who take it never get caught by werewolves."
 - Nikki Giovanni

Complete NPR interview here.

And here is a favorite Nikki Giovanni poem! I use it with students as an example of a poem that employs all of the senses. Don't mean to rush us into summertime, because wow, isn't spring amazing this year?! But I sure do love this poem. Plus my sister lives in Knoxville, so now I have all sorts of new memories and feelings associated with this poem. :)


Knoxville Tennessee

I always like summer
Best
you can eat fresh corn
From daddy's garden
And okra
And greens
And cabbage
And lots of
Barbeque
And buttermilk
And homemade ice-cream
At the church picnic
And listen to
Gospel music
Outside
At the church
Homecoming
And go to the mountains with
Your grandmother
And go barefooted
And be warm
All the time
Not only when you go to bed
And sleep 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Poets on Poetry: KARLA KUSKIN

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"Encourage children to read and write poetry and they will be encouraged to reach into themselves and articulate feelings and dreams. Clearly a good science report and a good poem are not created by the same process. And yet it is common to judge children's accomplishments only in terms of action and concrete production. The notes and study that go into the science report are easy to appreciate, but daydreaming and reflection, those silent pursuits that lead one inside oneself, are generally dismissed as inaction and therefore a waste of time. The imagination is a temperamental beast. Shy of groups and timetables, it thrives on solitude and freedom." - Karla Kuskin

from NEAR THE WINDOW TREE: poems and notes by Karla Kuskin (HarperCollins, 1975)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poets on Poetry: JOYCE SIDMAN

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"I love the brevity and power of poetry, and the way, through metaphor, it connects everything to everything else. I love the way it can celebrate the humble things, the odd or overlooked things, and make them fresh and amazing. I love the way it captures these moments of epiphany: when we suddenly realize something deep and powerful." 
- Joyce Sidman


Complete interview at Smack Dab in the Middle.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poets on Poetry: LEE BENNETT HOPKINS

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry. Enjoy!

"...poetry is reachable, is teachable, and should come to children as naturally as breathing! One needn't ask hundreds of questions about poems, nor dissect or analyze them to death. Just read poetry, love it to pieces, and enjoy it to the fullest."  - Lee Bennett Hopkins

Click here for complete interview.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Coming TOMORROW: 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem!!

Wow, can you believe it? National Poetry Month is very nearly upon us! Such a joyous time on ye old blogosphere... I am ready to be inspired and informed. Can't wait to see what all of you've got cooking.

Want to know what I've got cooking? Well. I will be sharing in each post during April a favorite quote from a favorite poet on poetry!

Please do be sure to check in on the Progressive Poem as it makes its way across the land -- and big thanks to all the participating poets! Who knows where our poem will take us this year?! I can't wait to find out. See you tomorrow!!

2014 Kidlitosphere
Progressive Poem

1 Charles at Poetry Time
2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Donna at Mainely Write
4 Anastasia at Poet! Poet!
5 Carrie at Story Patch
6 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
7 Pat at Writer on a Horse
8 Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
9 Diane at Random Noodling
10 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
11 Linda at Write Time
12 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
13 Janet at Live Your Poem
14 Deborah at Show--Not Tell
15 Tamera at The Writer's Whimsy
16 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
17 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Julie at The Drift Record
20 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
21 Renee at No Water River
22 Laura at Author Amok
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Linda at TeacherDance
25 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
26 Lisa at Lisa Schroeder Books
27 Kate at Live Your Poem
28 Caroline at Caroline Starr Rose
29 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a Godforsaken Town
30 Tara at A Teaching Life

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Sound of Poetry Friday

my father reading to my oldest brother (first child)
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday from the Land of Spring Break! Be sure to visit the ever-inspiring (early bird!) Mary Lee at A Year of Reading for  Roundup.

Ever since I was wee, I have loved listening to poetry -- I was so lucky to have a father who read poetry to me. He still reads poetry to me. So it should come as no surprise that I am really loving SoundCloud. 

In the past couple of weeks I have recorded something every day -- about half of my own poems and half poems written by others. My goal is to record the poems from all of my published collections as well, as other favorites not by me.

Poetry Friday regular Amy Ludwig VanDerwater already has an impressive library on SoundCloud, and Laura Purdie Salas is steadily building hers.... so we decided to create a Poetry Friday SoundCloud page! We invite you to join us by listening and adding your own sound contributions. There is something so special about hearing the voices of Poetry Friday friends... I really hope you will check it out.

To get us started, I recorded our Progressive Poems from 2012 and 2013. I'm very excited to get our 2014 version started on Tuesday! Meanwhile, hope you enjoy these recordings:



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Kitten!

Our oldest has been wanting a kitten of his own... and now he has one! Isn't she cute?!

Name to be decided!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Check out the paperback cover of DON'T FEED THE BOY!

I am completely fascinated by the work of illustrators and book designers. And anyone whose read this blog knows I am crazy about illustrator Stephanie Graegin's work. I'm so glad Square Fish didn't go all photographic and used her work again for the paperback version of DON'T FEED THE BOY: 



Readers, you may recognize the scene from one of the black & white illustrations inside the book, as seen here:


... and here's the full jacket spread. Notice it's all birds on the back. Flamingo, pigeon, Ferdinand the peacock... the Bird Girl would be pleased!


Look for it three months from today: June 24, just in time for those summer visits to the zoo!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Adventures in Haiku, and HI, KOO! by Jon J Muth

Hello, and Happy Poetry Friday! Please visit Amazingly Talented Traveler-Poet Julie at The Drift Record for Roundup.

I have long been interested in haiku, and have long admired those of you who write it regularly (Robyn! Jone! Diane!), but have never written any myself. So when wonderful librarian Haruyo Miyagawa announced haiku events in conjunction with the Sakura (cherry blossom) Festival at Birmingham Botanical Gardens (tomorrow!), I decided to make attending those events a priority.

One of the things I did was attend a haiku workshop with Terri L. French. Here's some of the things I learned:

Haiku is more objective than the poetry I generally write -- no feelings or analogies allowed! No titles or end punctuation. It relies heavily on a juxtaposition. Uusally less than 17 syllables. Has a season word. A dash or ellipses act as the Kireji (cutting word). No personification.

Here's my very first effort at haiku:

Pine thicket laced
with dogwood blossoms--
painter's poison

-Irene Latham

While I was at the workshop, I checked out 6 books of haiku, including HI, KOO! A Year of Seasons, Presented by Koo and Jon J Muth. The illustrations are delightful, and kids will love Koo, the little panda bear, as he (she?) romps through the seasons. To give you a sense of the book, I offer you a poem from each of the seasons:

FALL

these leaves
fall forever
my Broom awaits


WINTER

Icicles
reach down with dripping fingers
will they touch the ground?


SPRING

flashlights
sparkle in Puddles
shadows climbing trees


SUMMER

Violet petal
caressing a cheek
butterfly kisses

You may have noticed capitalization of certain words... this book doubles as an ABC book, in that the capitalized words are in alphabetical order. :) For haiku lovers-- and for those like me who are new to haiku-- it's a must-read!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Answering the Hard Questions at School Visits

Last week it was my good fortune to visit with 4th graders and the Reading Club at John S. Jones Elementary School in Gadsden, Alabama. We had a great time, and I was warmly welcomed by librarian Lisa Richards and the entire faculty and staff at the school. Carol York, librarian at Gadsden Public Library brought pizza for the group (and whose lovely father helped fund the visit - thank you, Mr. Roark and grandson Alex), and I enjoyed chatting with the kids, who were wonderful and curious and asked great questions. Thanks to everyone who made it a great time!

Now for those hard questions:

AGE
One thing the students often want to know is how old I am. This is not a new question. In my experience students are very curious about basic facts like age and where you live and how many kids you have. It helps them see you as a real person, and I suspect, helps them realize that they, too, can achieve their dreams, if given enough time.

Some folks I know have handled the age question with responses like this:
"It isn't polite to ask a woman her age."
"29 is always a good guess."

Here's what I tell all students: "I was born the same year Walt Disney World opened in Orlando. Look it up."

When someone figures it out, I give them a signed bookmark. :)

APPROPRIATENESS
Other more serious questions often come from librarians or teachers. One librarian wanted to know if DON'T FEED THE BOY was an appropriate read-aloud. She said she got worried when she got to the part where we meet Phil, who pops pain pills and keeps a gun under his chair. She said the last thing she needed was to be challenged by a parent over this book!

It's a great question, and I understand the librarian's concern. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to give a terribly succinct or reassuring answer. That's because I am not the one to ask.

Please, teachers and librarians and parents, take the time to read a book first yourself, so you can make your own decision. What I deem appropriate, you may not. What's right for one reader, may not be right for another. It's really impossible for me as the author to give a useful answer. And while I could argue that realistic fiction should be realistic -- which means including things that exist in our world like pain and addiction and bad things happening to good people -- I understand that the urge is strong to protect our children from these realities as long as possible. I'm a mother, too.

MONEY
Another question I often get asked is about the financial part of being an author. I use two volunteers positioned on opposite ends of the room to illustrate the answer: One is a poet, who gets a copy of the magazine as payment. The other is Suzanne Collins, who writes a series that becomes a blockbuster movie franchise. I place myself somewhere in the middle and explain that there are authors anywhere and everywhere in between. It's a tough business, and not everyone can be Suzanne Collins! So, without ever offering a dollar amount, I am able to give kids some valuable information.

And that's all for today. Connecting with students is one of my favorite parts of being an author. Thanks to all those who help facilitate those experiences!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Monday: ENOUGH SAID

This weekend we watched ENOUGH SAID, which could have been titled, LOVE IN THE TIME OF MIDDLE-AGE.

I have a friend who, after her divorce, said that going on a date was like going on a very strange job interview. This movie confirmed it. :) People who are middle-aged and dating often have ex-es and children and all sorts of peculiarities and baggage that (maybe) hadn't had so much time to accumulate the first go-around. The need for and enjoyment of companionship/love is as strong as ever, and middle-age presents its own array of challenges. It can (I think) very easily feel not worth the effort. And this movie shows that!

Funny and sweet and realistic, I really can't say enough good about it. Relationships are hard, whatever the age. And often we are our own worst enemies, especially when we allow other people's opinions to stand in the way of what makes us happy. Also, I think this was James Gandolfini's last movie, which makes me feel more tender toward his character and sweet performance here.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Experiment with Science and Poetry with Fifth Grade PFA FOR SCIENCE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing! And what a fun week it's been... thanks to all for your comments and warm enthusiasm.

Here's the schedule:
Monday: KINDERGARTEN
Tuesday: FIRST GRADE
Wednesday: SECOND GRADE
Thursday: THIRD GRADE
Friday: FOURTH GRADE
Saturday: FIFTH GRADE

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, FIFTH GRADE. Again, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of English and Spanish translations of some of the poems. Nice!

The poem I'd like to share today reminds me of why I love poetry. It magnifies something small and often taken for granted: 

THINK OF AN ATOM
by Buffy Silverman

Think of an atom
so tiny, so small--
a speck of the world
             a speck of us all,
a speck of the ocean
a speck of a fly
a speck of a mountain,
             a book or the sky.

Imagine that speck
growing wide, growing tall
              an atom as large as
your school or the mall.

The atom looks empty--
           almost nothing at all,
but there in the center
a tiny tight ball
of neutrons and protons
with mass and with weight.
How many for each?
           for oxygen: eight!)

Its charges are balanced: 
a proton adds one,
           -(each electron's a minus)
the neutrons add none.

Outside of the nucleus--
             that tight little ball--
the electrons are swirling
they're smaller than small
like pieces of dust
whizzing through space
a cloud of electrons
              in a zip-zapping race.

An atom is tiny--
astoundingly small--
Trillions like here
on this dot that I scrawl.

-------
Yay for atoms! This poem makes something we can't even see wondrous and fun. To which I say: yay for poetry! :)

In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p.237), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

Listening for science words
inviting students to join in on the final stanza
challenging students to illustrate a part of the poem using sketch or collage
discussion about matter and properties and a look at a model of an atom
a reference to other poems about matter

Good stuff! 

GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Have Fun with Science & Poetry with Fourth Grade PFA FOR SCIENCE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing!

Here's the schedule:
Monday: KINDERGARTEN
Tuesday: FIRST GRADE
Wednesday: SECOND GRADE
Thursday: THIRD GRADE
Friday: FOURTH GRADE
Saturday: FIFTH GRADE

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, FOURTH GRADE. Again, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of English and Spanish translations of some of the poems. Nice!

Today I've chosen one of those poems that appears in both English and Spanish, though, due to me not knowing how to use the keyboard to create special characters, I'm only sharing the English version here. Read the Spanish translation for yourself in the book!

OH WATER, MY FRIEND
by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

Are you scared?
Is that why you run
to rivers, to streams, to lakes?
Do you feel safer pooled in ponds?
Does it hurt to boil?
Does your anger roll and roil?
Is that why you recoil from the heat and sun?
Do you feel trapped, contained, restrained?
Is that why you weep and seep
through window panes?
Does it feel weird to leave the earth,
to rise above the rest?
Do you get dizzy hovering in the heaves?
Are you afraid to fail - to fall?
Aren't we all.
Aren't we all.
-----
Aren't we all, indeed! I love poems that use personification. To imagine how water FEELS... love it! (Interestingly I attended a workshop this past weekend on haiku, and as it turns out, personification and feelings are not allowed in haiku! Who knew?)

In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p.), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

Including audio or video of water while reading the poem
Inviting Spanish speaking students to share the poem
An art activity addressing the questions in the poem
Discussion about the water cycle
A reference to other poems about water


Good stuff. And yes, I have a poem in this one called "Science Fair," after a real-life science fair experience of my own.

GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.

Also: Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Kara at Rogue Anthropologist for Roundup. AND Big BIG thank you to all those poets who signed up for for 2014 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem.... I'm sorry I was not able to accommodate everyone. I've always thought we needed more than one month for National Poetry Month. Sigh. Love to all! xo

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Discover Science & Poetry with THIRD GRADE PFA FOR SCIENCE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing!

Here's the schedule:
Monday: KINDERGARTEN
Tuesday: FIRST GRADE
Wednesday: SECOND GRADE
Thursday: THIRD GRADE
Friday: FOURTH GRADE
Saturday: FIFTH GRADE

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, THIRD GRADE. Again, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of English and Spanish translations of some of the poems. Nice!

Today I've chosen a poem on a subject that's difficult for many of us to talk about:

CANCER
by Mary Lee Hahn

Cancer's what
is cells growing wild.

Cancer's who
is man, woman, or child.

Cancer's why
is scientists aren't sure.

Cancer's hope
is someday a cure.

Cancer's enemies
are surgery and drugs.

Cancer's helpers
are flowers and hugs.

-----
I don't know anyone whose life has not been touched somehow by cancer. My father is a five-year cancer survivor and also the administrator at Bismarck Cancer Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. "Hope" is a word that comes up often, and it pleases me to find it in this poem!

In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p. 183), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

Introducing the idea that some poems are serious
Inviting students to chime in on those italicized words
Discussion about cancer prevention
Talk about the role of scientists in finding a cure
A reference to other poems about illness/cancer


Good stuff. And yes, I have a Bonus (riddle) Poem in this one... "Disaster Riddle Under Pressure"


GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Experience Science & Poetry with SECOND GRADE PFA FOR SCIENCE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing!

Here's the schedule:
Monday: KINDERGARTEN
Tuesday: FIRST GRADE
Wednesday: SECOND GRADE
Thursday: THIRD GRADE
Friday: FOURTH GRADE
Saturday: FIFTH GRADE

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, SECOND GRADE. First of all, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful.

Here's one of my favorite poems:

LATE NIGHT SCIENCE QUESTIONS
by Greg Pincus

Do sneakers make me fast?
How long does winter last?
Is goop the same as goo?
What can't a robot do?
What makes a motor go?
Can we drink H3O?
Why is the ocean deep?
Why do I have to sleep?


-----
Aren't those fabulous questions? They remind me of conversations with our youngest son (a scientist-musician!), who, still, at age 14, asks questions that make me giggle... and send me to Google. :) 

In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p.111), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

actually asking this question on cell phone software
asking kids to chime in as you read the poem
research and share the answer to one of the questions posed
talk about the role of question in the inquiry process
a companion poem and book suggestion

So much fun! And yes, I have a Bonus Poem in this one... "Disaster Riddle in a Hurry"

GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Investigate Science & Poetry with PFA FOR FIRST GRADE!

Each day this week I will be sharing about the new PFA FOR SCIENCE, brought to you by Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong, with a host of fine poets contributing!

Here's the schedule:
Monday: KINDERGARTEN
Tuesday: FIRST GRADE
Wednesday: SECOND GRADE
Thursday: THIRD GRADE
Friday: FOURTH GRADE
Saturday: FIFTH GRADE

Each day I will be giving away a copy of the Student Edition for that grade level... and at the end of the week, I will choose one winner from all the commenters via blog/Facebook/Twitter for the K-5 TEACHER edition!

So, FIRST GRADE. Again, the line drawings that accompany the poems in the Student Edition are wonderful and engaging! There's also a Glossary and Index, both of which I find particularly helpful. And I especially appreciate the inclusion of English and Spanish translations of some of the poems. Nice!

Today I've got not just one, but two poems I'm excited to share:

BACKWARDS
by Janet Wong

Everyone is asking WHY.
Why is the sun hot?

I know I should wonder why but
I'm thinking:
Well, why NOT?

---------------------

LOVE NOTE TO A MAGNET
by Patricia Hubbell

Dear Magnet,
I'm drawn to you.
Irresistible you!
You're so attractive.
You make me feel quite active!
And though I know I should shrug,
I can't resist the tug of this feeling of love.
I want to hop, jump, and skip, 
Really let rip...
So I'm on a big trip--
Past pens, pencils, and papers,
Rulers, tape, and erasers--
Because...
I'm drawn to you!
Hugs,
             Paper Clip

-----

Being a bit "backwards" myself, I especially love Janet Wong's poem! Sometimes the best questions are not the obvious ones. :)

And the Love Note poem... I am and always will be a sucker for a love poem. And how fun is this one?! In the TEACHER'S EDITION for this poem (p.79), Sylvia Vardell has created TAKE FIVE! activities that include: 

Showing a paper clip
dividing the kids and having them participate in the poem
Discussion about the usefulness of magnets in everyday life
Demonstration of a magnet
a companion poem and book recommendation


So much fun! And yes, I have another (riddle) poem in this one... "Riddle for a Wet Day"



GIVEAWAY: Comment here or on Twitter @irene_latham or on my Facebook page! Winners announced daily.