Poems for Sale: National Poetry Month Family Style

April is National Poetry Month.

This year I made a goal to find at least four ways our family can celebrate.

I started at library in the children’s nonfiction section. (To save you three minutes, poetry books are call number 811.) While my girls were picking out picture books, I sat on the floor and browsed for poetry. I chose five “poetry collection” books–because I like to read poems from different poets–and only one rhyme book–because I want my girls to realize rhyming can be only a corner of what makes a poem.

Yesterday, I put all the poetry books in a basket with a sign that read: “Poems for Sale!” Next to the basket I left pencils and sticky notes. Without a word, I opened up the first book and started looking for a poem I’d like to buy. When I discovered a favorite, I marked it with a sticky note. On one I wrote: “This one reminds me of my brother–MOM.” On another: “I have to buy this one because it is just so cool–MOM.” After about ten minutes, my twelve year old walked by.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m finding poems I want to buy.” Then I held my breath. Come do this with me, I thought. She could go either way. Luckily, it was Sunday and we had lots of time on our hands. Besides, I was having such a good time.

“Fun!” she exclaimed and then sat down to join me. I handed her the sticky notes and a book. One of our favorites was “Fishes: A Poem for Two Voices” by Georgia Heard. We read it aloud together several times until we sounded amazing. (I’ve included it at the end of this post in case you want to try it too.)

It wasn’t too long before everyone started shopping for poems with us. This was not a silent activity. We kept interrupting each other with, “You’ve got to hear this one!” and only stopped when we got hungry (and ran out of sticky notes.)

This happened to work out perfectly, but if none of my children had volunteered to play, I would have tried to hook them by reading a couple of favorite poems at dinner. Maybe I would ask them how much that poem should “cost” and then challenge: Can you find one that should cost even more?

It might not be a tradition you’ve considered before, but celebrating National Poetry Month as a family can be a lot of fun. Join us!

NEXT TIME: Poetry Graffiti at Dinner.

GIVE IT A TRY:

Each person takes a column. When the words are on the same line, you read them in unison.

Fishes

Poem for Two Voices

by Georgia Heard

(Voice One) (Voice Two)

Atlantic blue tang

                                    Zebra pipe

Royal gramma

                                   French angel

Cuban hock

                                  Golden butterfly

We We

are are

fishes fishes

We We

shimmer swim

under

                                water

Our Our

mouths mouths

open

and

                                close

Our Our

gills gills

sift

air

                                 from
                                 water

Our Our

fins fins

steer

us

                                like
                                wings

We We

are are

fishes fishes

We We

shimmer swim

(From A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing and Shout with poetry selected by Paul Janeczko.)

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