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A Poetic Spring

It seems fitting that April is National Poetry Month. Poetry helps readers and listeners see things in a fresh way during a season when things undergo a renewal. Read poetry with children of all ages, about families, about nature, about the unexpected. For as you share poetry, as Carl Sandburg has said, remember that with poetry you're stuffing "a backpack of invisible keepsakes."

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems

By: Deborah Ruddell
Illustrated by: Joan Rankin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A range of forest inhabitants are presented imaginatively in a variety of poetic styles. From the "Bucktoothed Cleaver" (a beaver) to the chipmunks that invest in the "Acorn Savings Bank," poetry and illustrations allow readers to see animals afresh.

Bees, Snails, & Peacocks: Patterns & Shapes... Naturally

By: Betsy Franco
Illustrated by: Steve Jenkins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lyrical language and textured collages poetically convey the wonder of patterns and shapes in moths, birds, and other creatures. A brief note concludes this handsome volume.

Brothers & Sisters: Family Poems

By: Eloise Greenfield
Illustrated by: Jan Spivey Gilchrest
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Recognizable sibling relationships and associated emotions come alive in dynamic poems and realistic watercolor illustrations. As irritating as brothers and sisters can be, "…I'd rather have them, than not."

Calendar

By: Myra Cohn Livingston
Illustrated by: Will Hillenbrand
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Luminous illustrations brighten up each month of the year in this brief but evocative jaunt. The seasons come to life through rhythmic language and translucent images that beg to be shared aloud.

Flip, Flap, Fly! A Book for Babies Everywhere

By: Phyllis Root
Illustrated by: David Walker
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A predictable rhyme leads from one baby animal to another until a child and his mama kiss "in the honey-sunny day, in the bright and breezy air." The lively language uses lots of onomatopoeia and soft illustrations that are just right for sharing aloud.

Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout

By: Paul Janeczko
Illustrated by: Chris Raschka
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The team who created A Kick in the Head (2005) presents another appealing collection of poems in varied forms and from different time periods. All these poems shout to be shared aloud while illustrations deserve multiple looks.

Rhymes Round the World

By: Kay Chorao
Illustrated by: Kay Chorao
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Children everywhere enjoy similar things, celebrated here in rhymes from around the world. Some are traditional while others are by credited authors; each is accompanied by soft illustrations until it's time to say good night (in many languages).

The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems

By: Michael Rosen
Illustrated by: Stan Fellows
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This handsome book is presented as though the notebook of a birder. It combines haiku, information about birds, and realistic watercolors with notes. Additional brief comments conclude a book that is sure to spark continued interest.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

By: Langston Hughes
Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dazzling watercolors turn Hughes' short poem into an unforgettable glimpse of African American history and an emotional journey through time. A concluding note details the illustrator's personal connection to the classic poem.

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku

By: Paul Janeczko, J. Patrick Lewis
Illustrated by: Tricia Tusa
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the sly humor and wordplay in the "kissin' cousin of haiku." Senyru focuses on everyday activities (e.g., "Freedom vanishes, as the babysitter arrives… kids are tied in nots") complemented here by comic illustrations.

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