Category: News

2015 TIME for Kids Poetry Contest

2015 TIME for Kids Poetry Contest

Calling all poets! TIME For Kids has a challenge for you: Write a funny, rhyming poem. It must be an original poem that does not copy another poet’s work. Enter it in the TIME For Kids Poetry Contest. The grand-prize winner will receive an online class visit from Children’s Poet Laureate Kenn Nesbitt. The grand-prize winner and three finalists will each get a signed copy of Nesbitt’s newest book of poetry, The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids, and their poems will be published at

WHAT: Write a funny, rhyming poem and enter it in the TFK Poetry Contest. Poet Kenn Nesbitt will look for originality, creativity, humor and rhyme in the style of his own poetry. To read some of Nesbitt’s poems, go to

HOW: Enter your original poem in the online entry form at Be sure to include your first name only, your e-mail address and your parents’ e-mail address. Contest is open to students who are 8 to 13 years old.

DEADLINE: January 30, 2015

Read the official rules here and a Q&A about the contest here.

NEW BOOK! The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids

The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids by Kenn Nesbitt
Today marks the release of my newest collection of hilarious children’s poetry. The Biggest Burp Ever: Funny Poems for Kids contains 70 new kid-tested funny poems about crazy characters, funny families, peculiar pets, comical creatures, and much, much more, all with wonderful illustrations by Rafael Domingos.

I promise you are going to love this book. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to what others have to say about it:

Take a deep breath. Hold on tight. Fasten your seat belt! The Biggest Burp Ever is another epic romp of rib-tickling rhyme on the endless roller coaster ride known as Kenn’s prolific pen! —Charles Ghigna – Father Goose®

Kenn Nesbitt has an amazing power: He’s a poet whose punchlines aim straight for the funny bone and rarely, if ever, miss. Here, in this brand-new collection, the Master of the Looney-verse pays another welcome visit to planet Mirth, delivering a pun-packed pummeling that is guaranteed to leave young readers everywhere reeling with joy. —Graham Denton, children’s poet and anthologist

The Biggest Burp Ever by Kenn Nesbitt dials up the silly factor to 11. With a verbal palette as bright as childhood itself, the Children’s Poet Laureate covers topics from Xboxes to pizzas to pets and delivers a chuckle on every one. Fair warning: Upon reading one of his punchlines, I had milk coming out of my nose, and I hadn’t even drunk any. —Brian P. Cleary, author of the Words are CATegorical series

The Biggest Burp Ever is now available in paperback from for just $9.95. In addition the the paperback, you can also read The Biggest Burp Ever as an eBook for Amazon Kindle for just $4.99.

Rhyming Cities, States, Countries

Rhyming Places List

If you ever find yourself writing a poem that involves geographical locations — cities, states, countries, etc. — you may find it helpful to have a list of places that rhyme with one another. Here are some that you could use:

  • Alaska / Nebraska
  • Albania / Lithuania / Mauritania / Pennsylvania / Romania / Tasmania / Transylvania
  • Albuquerque / Turkey
  • Algeria / Assyria / Iberia / Liberia / Nigeria / Siberia / Syria
  • Altoona / Laguna
  • Anapolis / Indianapolis / Minneapolis
  • Anatolia / Mongolia
  • Andorra / Aurora / Sonora
  • Angola / Hispaniola / Pensacola
  • Arizona / Barcelona / Daytona / Pomona / Ramona / Verona
  • Armenia / Sardinia / Slovenia
  • Aruba / Cuba / Dinuba
  • Asia / Australasia / Eurasia / Malaysia
  • Astoria / Peoria / Pretoria / Victoria
  • Austin / Boston
  • Australia / Vidalia / Visalia / Westphalia
  • Azerbaijan / Bhutan / Ceylon / Iran / Kazakhstan / Milan / Oman / San Juan / Saigon / Taiwan / Tehran
  • Bahrain / Biscayne / Champlain / Fort Wayne / Maine / Spain / Ukraine
  • Baku / Guangzhou / Kalamazoo / Kathmandu / Peru / Thimphu / Timbuktu
  • Bali / Raleigh
  • Bavaria / Bulgaria
  • Bombay / L.A. / Malay / Monterey / Saint Tropez / San Jose / Santa Fe / Taipei / USA
  • Botswana / Ghana / Guyana / Tijuana
  • Brazil / Capitol Hill / Seville
  • Bruges / Baton Rouge
  • Brunei / Chennai / Dubai / Mumbai / Shanghai / Uruguay / Versailles
  • Caledonia / Catalonia / Estonia / Macedonia / Patagonia / Slavonia
  • Casablanca / Minnetonka / Sri Lanka
  • Chicago / Santiago
  • China / Indochina / North Carolina / South Carolina
  • County Cork / New York
  • Copacabana / Fontana / Indiana / Louisiana / Montana / Santa Ana / Savannah / Susquehanna
  • Crimea / Eritrea / Korea / Sofia / Tanzania
  • Gambia / Zambia
  • Goa / Krakatoa / Samoa
  • Gobi / Lake Okeechobee / Nairobi
  • Greece / Nice / Tunis
  • Guam / Vietnam
  • Illinois / Troy
  • Indonesia / Micronesia / Polynesia / Rhodesia / Tunisia
  • Isle of Capri / Tennessee / Waikiki / Washington D.C.
  • Isle of Man / Cannes / Japan / Saipan / Spokane / Sudan
  • Jakarta / Puerto Vallarta / Sparta
  • Libya / Namibia
  • Malta / Yalta
  • Martinique / Mozambique
  • Milwaukee / Nagasaki
  • Minnesota / North Dakota / Sarasota / South Dakota
  • Montreal / Nepal / Senegal
  • North Pole / Seoul / South Pole
  • Oklahoma / Point Loma / Sonoma / Tacoma
  • Prussia / Russia
  • Reno / San Bernardino / San Marino / Torino
  • Rwanda / Uganda
  • Serbia / Suburbia

Click here for other lists of rhyming words.

BLOG TOUR: My Writing Process

My friend Kelly Milner Halls recently participated in the Writing Process Blog Tour on her blog and asked me if I would follow her in the tour, answering a few questions about my writing. Of course, I said yes. Kelly is such a wonderful children’s author and all-around awesome human being that I thought it would be a great way to let my readers know about her and her books. She also asked Claire Rudolf Murphy to participate, and she should be posting her answers on her blog in the next couple of days.

I’ve asked Douglas Florian and Nikki Grimes to follow me in this blog tour, so next week you should be able to read about what they are working on and how and why they write what they do.

So, without further ado, here are my answers to the four questions posed on this blog tour:

What am I currently working on?

I’m currently working on a rhyming picture book. In the past, most of my books have been poetry collections, but these days I find myself writing more picture books.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

With a few notable exceptions (e.g., Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Douglas Florian) most children’s poetry books aren’t humorous. They tend to be more informational; poems about nature, animals, etc. So I guess it’s fair to say that my books differ from most children’s poetry books in that they are funny. At least, I hope they are. :-)

Why do I write what I write?

As a child, I loved hearing and reading funny poems and songs. So mostly I write the same sorts of things that I loved reading as a kid. I also loved reading kid detective novels, but I haven’t tried my hand at one of those yet.

What is my writing process?

Any time I get an idea, I jot it down in a note on my phone or laptop using Evernote.

I don’t have a regular writing time or location. I write whenever I can make time, and I do it wherever I happen to be. Usually that’s at home, but often I will go the the library or a coffee house to work.

When I am able to carve out a little time to write, I start by going through my ideas to find one that I would like to work on. I do all of my writing on my laptop computer using a number of programs, including Evernote, Rhymesaurus, and I write and revise, write and revise, write and revise, until I feel like there is nothing else I can do to improve the poem. When I’m finished writing t, I file the poem in Evernote and then come back a day or two later. Often times I will see something I didn’t notice before, and I’ll make a few final revisions. At that point, the poem is usually ready for posting on my website or including in a manuscript.

Five Ways to Overcome Writer’s Block

How to overcome writer's block

“Writer’s block” is an expression that describes how it feels when it seems like you can’t write. Maybe you’re working on a particular poem and then you just start to feel stuck, not knowing how to finish it. Or maybe you sit down to write and you just can’t think of anything at all to write about. Either way, writer’s block can feel pretty discouraging.

The good news is that there are lots of easy ways to break free from writer’s block and start writing again. Next time you feel blocked, give one of these tips a try:

1. Get Goofy

Writer’s block can make you feel very serious, so one way to break free is to get silly. Try to write the most awful, ridiculous poem in the world. Write a poem complaining about how you can’t possibly write a poem right now because of all your terrible problems. Or write your poem from the point of view of your dog, or your lunch, or the dust bunnies under your bed.

2. Make a List

Sometimes it helps to forget about writing in a poetry format for a while. Instead, just list all the things you want someone to know about what your poem will be like after you write it. Or, if you don’t like making lists, just start writing or typing the words “This poem is going to be about…” and then finish the sentence. Try to keep writing without stopping for at least five minutes. When you’re done, you’ll have lots of ideas about how to finish your poem.

3. Try Something Different

Maybe you need a totally different way to write for a while. Instead of writing a free verse poem, try your hand at rhyming couplets. Or instead of sitting at your desk to write, stand up. If you’re really stuck, stand on one foot, or write with the opposite hand for a change. Or get outside of your usual writing place to sit in a park, in the passenger seat of a car, or in a bookstore or library.

4. Go for a Walk

Physical activity is really good for busting you out of a writing rut and resetting your brain. So is a change of scene! You can go for a walk in your neighborhood, or take a bike ride, or jump on a trampoline, or even take a dance break—anything to get your body moving and distract your brain. You can come back to your writing in a few minutes, or even another day, and you’ll have fresh ideas.

5. Be a Reader Instead

Sometimes you can take the pressure off and inspire yourself at the same time. How? By picking up another writer’s work and enjoying it. It doesn’t even have to be poetry. You could read a short story, a graphic novel, or any kind of writing that reminds your brain what great writing can do. Reading can be a great warm-up for anytime you want to write a poem, or it can be a break from writing when your mind feels stuck.

Need More Ideas for Overcoming Writer’s Block? has an excellent article/infographic entitled “Beating Writer’s Block: 11 Awesome Tips” with even more suggestions on ways to break through your writer’s block.

No matter what you decide to try for your writer’s block, keep in mind that the best way to get un-stuck is to do something different. Start anywhere! Even a very small change can help a lot, and you’ll be writing poems again in no time.

Happy Birthday, Edward Lear

Edward Lear

May 12 is the birthday of English poet Edward Lear, who would be 209 years old if he were still alive. He is well known for his drawings as well as for the poems and limericks that he wrote. Lear has been called a nonsense poet because he liked to use made-up words along with real ones in his poems. He also wrote about fanciful things that wouldn’t happen in real life. You may have read or heard his most famous poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat,” which is often taught to young children. Here is a short excerpt:

They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear grew up near London as one of 21 children in his family. He was raised by his sister Ann, who was more than 20 years older than him. Lear was often sick during his childhood, suffering from asthma and epilepsy among other health problems.

Lear’s drawings and paintings of animals were first published when he was a teenager. As an adult, he enjoyed traveling to faraway places and painting landscapes of what he saw in his travels. He published his first book of nonsense limericks in 1846.

A limerick is a kind of short, funny poem that has five rhyming lines and starts with the words, “There was a…” Limericks usually have the same kind of rhythm. Edward Lear didn’t invent this kind of poem, but he did help to make it popular.

Here is one of Edward Lear’s nonsense limericks. Try reading it out loud and notice the rhythm and rhyme patterns:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

If you like these, here are a few more of Edward Lear’s most famous poems:

Ten Ways to Celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day

Poem in Your Pocket

You might have heard that every year, the month of April is National Poetry Month. But did you know that we also celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day every April as well? This is a day when people all over the United States will be sharing their favorite poem with their families, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors.

The town of Charlottesville in Virginia has an annual tradition of celebrating this day together. Lots of people volunteer to pass out printed poems all over town, and they also have an open mic poetry event the night before Poem in Your Pocket Day to kick off the celebration. There are also special Poem in Your Pocket events every year in other large cities, such as New York.

Here are 10 easy and fun ways to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day this year:

  1. Write a short poem on an index card and tape or thumbtack it to a public bulletin board. Or you could use just one stanza from a longer poem. Be sure to give the title and author so that people who read it can look up the full poem on their own.
  2. If you don’t have a pocket, think of other places to store folded-up poems. How about tucked into the top of in your sock?
  3. Email your favorite poem to a pen pal or family member who lives far away.
  4. Ask your parent, teacher, or school librarian to help you arrange a poem swap for your class or neighborhood, in which everyone brings a printed copy of their favorite poem and swaps it for someone else’s poem.
  5. If you use Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you can post a photo of your favorite poem and include the hashtag #pocketpoem.
  6. Leave a printed copy of your poem between the pages of a library book. It will be a surprise for the next reader!
  7. If your family often visits a senior center or nursing home, print several copies of a poem to share and give it to the people you see when you visit that day. Or ask the person at the information desk if you can leave a pile of poems for visitors to take to their loved ones.
  8. Encourage people to ask you about your poem. You can do this by wearing a sticker on your shirt or bookbag that says, “It’s Poem in Your Pocket Day! Ask me about my favorite poem.”
  9. If your family members take their lunch to school or work, slip a poem into their lunch bags. Better yet, put in two poems—one for them to keep and one for them to give away to a friend!
  10. Come up with creative ways to share your poem if you don’t want to print out or write out your poem on paper. For example, you could write a short poem on the back of your hand and read it out loud to people you meet.

No matter how you decide to celebrate, you can make Poem in Your Pocket Day special and fun for yourself—and everyone you meet. Just choose a poem to share, and the possibilities are endless!

Rhythm in Poetry – Okie Dokie, Here’s the Trochee

Edgar Allan Poe

In the last Rhythm in Poetry lesson, we talked about the “iamb,” a two-syllable poetic foot with the stress on the second syllable. The reverse of the iamb is called the “trochee” (pronounced TRO-kee). Like the iamb, the trochee is a two-syllable foot. But instead of being stressed on the second syllable, trochees are stressed on the first syllable. For example, the word “today” is an iamb because we emphasize the “day” not the “to.” (That is, we say “to-DAY,” not ‘TO-day.”) But the word “candy” is a trochee, because we emphasize the “can” and not the “dy.” (It’s pronounced “CAN-dee,” not “can-DEE.”) Look at it like this:

Poems Now Sorted by Reading Level

There are always at least 100 funny poems for kids on, which you have always been able to choose from based on their popularity or subject matter. Now I’ve also added the ability to select poems based on their reading level.

To view the poems on organized by reading level, simply click on Poems by Reading Level in the menu. My hope is that this will help make it easier for teachers to select poems at an appropriate reading level for their students.

The poems are sorted by grade level based on their ATOS readability score, the reading level system used by the Accelerated Reader program. Because these scores are computer generated, they may not be 100% accurate, but should still make it easier to find poems suitable for students of any given age.

Once you select a poem, you can always find out more about it’s grade level measures and text statistics (number of words, number of lines, average word length, etc.) by scrolling down to the bottom of the poem’s page.

TIME for Kids 2014 Poetry Contest Winners

TIME for Kids 2014 Poetry Contest Winners

Illustration by Deam Macadam for TFK

Congratulations to the winners of the 2014  TIME for Kids Poetry Contest! I had so much fun reading all the entries and selecting the winners, plus a few “honorable mentions.” There were over 2100 entries this year; the most ever!

The grand-prize winning poem this year was by 10-year-old Benjamin Ecsedy. His poem “Mess” was absolutley wonderful. His prizes include a free autographed copy of my book The Armpit of Doom and a free online author visit for his class.

In addition to Benjamin’s wonderfully funny poem, the runner-up winners were “Stranded in Paradise” by 14-year-old John Vernaglia, “My Elephant” by 10-year-old Maddy Harmon, and “Expelled” by 12-year-old Ella Smith.

You can read all of the winners, plus several honorable mentions on the TIME for Kids website, and in TIME for Kids Magazine.

A big congratulations to all of the winners and honorable mentions, and to all of the kids who took the time to write a poem and submit it. If I could have, I would have picked a hundred winners. There were at least that many poems that were true winners in my eyes.