In my curriculum class this month, several students have used poetry as the focus of collaborative lessons because April is National Poetry Month as well as an easy way to connect with the English/Language Arts classes. Their lessons have preK-12 students assembling poem portfolios, illustrating poems, composing their own poems, mimicking various types of poems, or doing choral readings and such. Since it is also School Library Month, I wondered, weren’t my students missing an opportunity? Why couldn’t they use National Poetry Month to celebrate and advocate for school libraries through poetry? The National Poetry.org website has a list of 30 ways to celebrate poetry month that could easily be adjusted to focus on libraries. For example,
- Record students reading library or book poems for podcasts or vodcasts.
- Chalk a poem about the library on the sidewalk or school hallway.
- Have students do a diamante or acrostic poem about the school library.
- Have a Haiku or ballad contest with the library as the subject.
- Help students memorize a poem about the library (or reading or books) and invite them to share with other classes.
- Have students create original poems about the library that you share in the hallways, on bulletin boards, on your website, on your morning news program, in parent and classroom newsletters, at the public library, in the teacher’s lounge, in the lunchroom, etc. Compile student work into booklets that you could display at local businesses (in doctor or dentist offices, in vet offices – anywhere people in your community are sitting and waiting and might be inclined to pick up something to read).
- Adapt Matthue Roth’s “Karoke Word” lesson plan (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/lesson/word-karaoke) to have students write new words to song lyrics about the library.
- Have students create Found poems about the school library.
- Have students write a group ballad telling the story of their school library adventures.
- Using Nikki Giovanni’s celebratory poem “A Library,” or Lee Bennett Hopkins’s “Good Books, Good Times” as templates, have students write their poetic definitions of what a library is to them. Be sure to share far and wide!
- Have a book spine poem competition using titles from your school library. http://100scopenotes.com/2013/03/07/wanted-any-and-all-book-spine-poems/
- Share a poem about books or libraries or reading each morning either on your morning news program, over the intercom, on the web, or posted in the lobby of the school. You could start with one of my favorites by Jack Prelutsky:
I met a dragon face to face
the year when I was ten,
I took a trip to outer space,
I braved a pirate’s den,
I wrestled with a wicked troll,
and fought a great white shark,
I trailed a rabbit down a hole,
I hunted for a snark.
I stowed aboard a submarine,
I opened magic doors,
I traveled in a time machine,
and searched for dinosaurs,
I climbed atop a giant’s head,
I found a pot of gold,
I did all this in books I read
when I was ten years old.
School librarians naturally welcome National Poetry Month as an opportunity to collaborate with teachers to introduce students to poetry. It is also the perfect time to embrace the opportunity for advocacy.
Good school librarians always calculate
Opportunities to advocate.
National Poetry Month is the perfect time
To celebrate school libraries through rhyme.
Pretlusky, J. (2000). “I met a dragon face to face.” In Hopkins, L.B. (Ed.). Good Books, Good Times! NY: Harper & Row.
Author: Anne Akers
Clinical assistant professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of NC at Greensboro working with school library candidates. Former elementary, middle, and high school librarian in Virginia, Mississippi, and North Carolina.