Celebrate Poetry Month with Picture Books

National Poetry Month is a time to recognize the power of poetry. The Academy of American Poets established National Poetry Month in 1996. Every April, the Academy provides poetry lessons and opportunities to engage everyone in a literary celebration. Visit National Poetry Month on the Poets website and find lots of fun activities.

For poetry ideas with picture books, take a look at the titles and lessons below. As you read the activities, consider the learners in your classes. Be proactive in designing instruction that is accessible to all learners. Meet with classroom educators when developing lessons. Share your lesson ideas. Ask for feedback about how to make sure all learners have the opportunity to participate.

Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem

In Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, author/poet Amanda Gorman beckons readers to take action. Her beautiful talent in expressing evocative sentiment through poetry is remarkable. Readers will experience two stories in Change Sings. The illustrator, Loren Long, tells one story, while the author expresses another. Both stories share the same meaning; everyone can participate in changing the world around them.

Change Sings Lesson Idea for National Poetry Month

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Collaborate/Share III.C.1 Learners work productively with others to solve problems by soliciting and responding to feedback from others.

Objective: Learners will seek feedback from classmates while practicing reading poetry aloud.

Show learners the cover of Change Sings. Point to the author’s name. Ask learners what they already know about Amanda Gorman. Watch Gorman deliver “The Hill We Climb”  during the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Ask learners what they noticed about Gorman’s presentation. Invite learners to discuss what it takes to write and read a poem for such an important occasion.

Explain that today, learners will find a poem that resonates with them. Then, they will practice reading the poem aloud to a small group. Afterwards, learners will ask for feedback. Model what it looks like to give constructive feedback. Offer starter sentences on chart paper to guide discussions.

Inspire poetry exploration by reading Change Sings. Read the illustrations before reading the text. Ask learners to help narrate the illustrations as you turn the pages.

Next, read the text. Ask the following questions:

  • “What does Amanda Gorman want you to do after reading her poem?”
  • “How do Loren Long’s illustrations support Amanda Gorman’s message?”

Distribute poetry books for learners to peruse. Instruct learners to find a poem that speaks to them. Direct learners to practice reading the poem with a partner or a small group. Explain that after they read their poem, learners will ask group members for feedback about their performance. Learners will listen to feedback from peers and practice applying their suggestions.

Kiyoshi’s Walk

Kiyoshi’s Walk, by Mark Karlins and Nicole Wong, takes place in a neighborhood nestled in a populated city. The opening illustrations bring us inside an apartment where we meet Kiyoshi and his grandfather. The grandfather sits at a kitchen table, painting haiku on mottled paper. Kiyoshi is curious about the poetry and asks where it comes from. This question prompts the grandfather to take Kiyoshi for a meditative walk through the neighborhood. They experience the sites, sounds and happenings around them. Along the way, the grandfather writes poems about what he sees, hears, feels and imagines. Kiyoshi watches and learns about the immersive art of creating poetry.

This lovely book evokes a quiet message of appreciating the present moment. The story awakens readers to pay close attention to what’s happening around them. The digital illustrations exude feelings of peace, calm and beauty. The package of the story contains an alluring way to explain haiku poetry.

Kiyoshi’s Walk Lesson Idea for National Poetry Month

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Explore/Think V.A.3 Learners develop and satisfy personal curiosity by engaging in inquiry-based processes for personal growth.

Objective: Learners will explore haiku poetry by studying the poems in Kiyoshi’s Walk.

Prepare for the lesson by writing the haiku poems in Kiyoshi’s Walk on chart paper. Introduce the lesson by asking learners to read the cover of the book. Ask what information the illustrations tell us about Kiyoshi.

Explain that as you read the story, learners will gather more information about Kiyoshi. Learners will also study the poetry that is presented.

Pause at different times during the reading. Invite learners to describe Kiyoshi as he learns about poetry. Also, stop at each poem and ask learners what they notice about the poetry. At the end of the story, compare the different poems.

Tell learners that this form of poetry is called haiku. Read the “Author’s Note” to learn how to write a haiku poem. Explain that learners will experiment with haiku peotry. Begin by watching a nature video. Ask learners to jot down what they see and hear. Invite learners to construct a haiku with their notes.

Poem in My Pocket

Poem in My Pocket Day takes place during National Poetry Month. This year, the event is April 29th. Celebrate the day by reading Poem in My Pocket by Chris Tougas and Josée Bisaillon.

The story begins with an older child running up a set of stairs. As the protagonist climbs, a poem spills out of their pocket. The words scatter in the wind. The child chases the words through a colorful, tropical town. The words, set in blue, have fun by attaching themselves to signs in the marketplace. Once the words are collected and planted in the ground, they grow into a….”POETREE”!

Readers will enjoy this fun romp with rhyming words. The story ends with an invitation to find the rhyming and mixed-up words in the story. This gives readers an added experience to explore words.

Poem in My Pocket Lesson Idea for National Poetry Month

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Curate/Think IV.A.3 Learners act on an information need by making critical choices about information sources to use.

Objective: Learners will curate a list of favorite poetry books by rating books they read.

Prepare for the lesson by gathering poetry books and creating a worksheet. The worksheet will list the titles and authors of the books you collected. Include a heart shape after each title.

After reading Poem in My Pocket, tell readers they will spend a short amount of time reading and rating poetry books. Explain that they will explore a book from the collection for three to five minutes. When time is up, they will rate the poetry books. When readers find a book they want to spend more time with, they will shade in the heart next to the title. Learners may also write notes about the books they read. Explain that by the end of the class, learners may have a collection of poetry books they can borrow from the library based on their first impressions.

For more poetry ideas, visit my Two for Tuesday post on KnowledgeQuest. Here you’ll find a lesson about writing poetry with a limited amount of words. 



Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Blogger: https://LibraryLessonsWithBooks.com
Skillshare Teacher: https://skl.sh/3a852D5

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