Yesterday I featured poems about a different kind of Valentine... and today I have yet another kind! Read on!!
In the past few months Charles Waters and I have been honored to find our book CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? on the following lists:
NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction Honor Book
NCTE Notable Poetry Book
ALA Notable Children's Book
CYBILS Finalist for Poetry (Congratulations to the winner: A LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds -- it's a phenomenal book!)
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award title for grades 3-6
... and another state award list we can't announce yet. :)
We hope this recognition means more readers will be having conversations about race, mistakes and friendship. We are always thrilled to be a part of these conversations, too. This past December Charles Waters and I zoomed with Mary Lee Hahn's class at Daniel Wright Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio.
This amazingly diverse group had read our book, and wow did they have some great questions for me and Charles! It was a joy to spend time with these engaged learners.
And then... the Valentines arrived: I got in the mail a bundle of thank you notes! Mary Lee even enclosed an envelope for me to forward the notes to Charles -- which I did! He loved them, too, of course.
All the notes touched my heart with their words and art. Two of the notes included poems that I am delighted to share with you today, thanks to permission granted by these students and their parents.
Here's the first one, from Zitlali:
|the front of Zitali's card|
Irene and Charles
They are best of friends
They stood out
And made a book
It's the best opritunity [sic] they took
And even though,
It might be scary
In the end,
look at all the messages,
That you have sent to ...
To Zitlali: Thank YOU for recognizing the courage it takes to write a book... and most of all, thank you for being a brave poet yourself! Your words -- and your message -- is beautifully written and so very important.
And now, 2 acrostic poems from Jasmine:
|the front of Zitlali's card|
Sent a message
To Jasmine: I want to live up to all those adjectives! Thank you! And I want you to know that those adjectives actually say far more about YOU, the poet, than they do about the subject. Thank you for showing us -- and the world -- the beauty in your heart!
And: so many thanks to Mary Lee for being a brave teacher. These conversations aren't easy, but they are essential in helping us to shape a more loving world.
I'll leave you with another valentine: a gratitude poem I wrote during ARTSPEAK! Portraits (2017):
And I would give you
from the morning's
of palm fronds,
the scent of salt
I would give you
the eye of every hurricane
waves to bathe
your every shore
this red dress
with its lace collar,
this brown skin
all the sunshine
that lives inside
an island flower
all the sunshine
- Irene Latham