I was nine years old when my family went water-skiing every day for an entire summer. We’d get up early, fix enough sandwiches to fill the cooler, and head for the lake in our midnight blue 1967 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, ski-boat in tow. On the best days, we would arrive before the wind had kicked up, when the lake was still a glassy calm.
Somehow, my dad’s job with a heating and air conditioning company allowed him to work mainly in the spring and fall. With summers free, my parents took us to the lake every day; me and my two brothers, Hap and Danny, and our friend Jimmy. Hap was the one with the crew-cut. Danny looked just like me, only more devious. We were all skinny, tanned, and a little too wild.
This was 1971, and the car had only an AM radio. No FM, no 8-track player, and certainly no DVDs or video games. A trip to the lake meant over an hour in the car each way, along winding mountain roads where the AM radio was useless, there weren’t enough other cars to play “slug bug,” and thumb wrestling got old in a hurry. Eventually–as four boys will do when stuck in the back seat of a car for an hour or two–we would begin to fight. It always started innocently enough with a “Quit touching me,” or a “Hey, that’s mine,” but would quickly erupt into a full-blown wrestling match on the floor of the car. Did I mention we also didn’t have seat belts?
Lee Bennett Hopkins is an award-winning children’s author, poet, anthologist, and editor, and a lifelong promoter of poetry for children. I had the honor of speaking with him recently about his career, his books, and his thoughts about children’s poetry. You can listen to the interview here on the Poetry4kids Podcast.
The holidays are almost upon us, and of course, our thoughts turn to gifts and giving, and giving thanks. For most kids, it’s all about what they’ll be getting under the tree, and not often about what they can give to others. And yet, ask any parent what the most precious gift they ever received from a child was, and they’ll remember a handmade card, a drawing, a letter, or a poem. This season gives you a wonderful opportunity to use poetry to help children create a lasting, memorable gift for the people that they love. I’d like to give you a few pointers for poetry projects that translate well into family gifts.
Children’s author Alan Katz has a brand new collection of funny poetry for kids called Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking. I had the pleasure of speaking to Alan about his new book. You can listen to the interview here on the Poetry4kids Podcast.
Poetry4kids.com is currently undergoing a little bit of new construction. For now the changes will only affect a few pages on the website, such as the News and Videos, so you shouldn’t notice anything at all. But, if you do come across anything quirky, rest assured that I’m working to get everything squared away as quickly as possible.
The reason I am upgrading the website is that these new changes will make it easier for me to maintain poetry4kids.com so I can spend more time creating new poems, videos, lessons, and other resources for you to enjoy.
If you happen to notice any broken links or anything that doesn’t appear to be working right, please feel free to drop me a line so I can be sure it gets fixed right away.
Of all the holidays that we celebrate each year, Halloween is the one with the greatest potential for sparking the imagination. Kids (and let’s be honest, quite a few adults, too) are thinking about the costume they’ll wear, long before the actual night. And it’s easy to get everyone excited about making fun decorations for the classroom and elsewhere.
Witches, goblins, superheroes, and cartoon characters meet Jack o’Lanterns, fangs, and zombies in a festival of the unreal and the fantastic. (Not to mention all the free candy!) It’s the perfect opportunity to round up some of that bubbling excitement, and turn it into poetic fun! Here are a few ideas for the Scary Season, activities that are easily adaptable for most age-groups.
This week I had the pleasure of speaking with J. Patrick Lewis about his career, his books, and his new position as Children’s Poet Laureate of the United States. Pat was charming as he shared stories and even read a brand new poem.
Beginning October 1 and continuing throughout the month, right up until Halloween, I will be posting a funny spooky poem or funny monster poemevery day on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. Follow me now to read them all! Click on the Facebook or Google Plus logo on the left or the Twitter logo on the right to follow.
NOTE: You don’t need an account to follow along and read the poems. Even without an account, you can still view the Twitter feed and link to the poems. Just click on the Twitter link on the right to see my tweets, which will have links to the poems.
It’s unfortunate but true, and probably due to our tech-driven, scientifically orientated world, that when I tell people I write poetry for a living, I’m likely to hear the question, “But what’s it for? What does it do?” And that’s a puzzler when it comes to literature and poetry. To those of us who love it, it’s perfectly obvious what it’s “for.”
But just in case you’re asked that question about poetry any time soon, and you want to have something to say without spluttering in indignation, I thought I’d throw together a few little-know facts about the effect poetry has on children’s brains (and ours, for that matter).