Thursday, February 3, 2011

Poetry Your Kids Will LOVE!

If you teach poetry, you M-U-S-T read Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech. I finished my poetry unit and realized I didn't use these books this year - gasp!

I started reading Hate That Cat to some of the kids today, and after 30 minutes of reading the poetry from this book, the kids got mad that I had to stop in order for them to go to art! I know, it sounds rather dubious, but they couldn't get enough of the book. As soon as we came back from art for about 15 more minutes of class before lunch, they begged me to read more.

It is the story of a boy named Jack, and he is a student in Ms. Stretchberry's class. He is writing in a poetry journal, and we see the thoughts (which he records in poetry form) that he writes to Ms. Stretchberry. It is apparent that the teacher writes back to him, but we only see Jack's entries. The teacher in me loves this for many reasons, but I especially love that it prompts my students to infer what Ms. Stretchberry has written to him. We've had some really thoughtful discussions about the missing parts of the conversation. 

Jack discusses poetry terms, poetic devices, poetry analysis, and his favorite poets. He goes on a wondrous journey as a writer, and a lot of the life experiences he writes about are incredibly relatable for students. As I read aloud Jack's thoughts about onomatopoeia and alliteration, they laughed! As he learns some hard life lessons, some of the students cried along with me as I read. As a teacher, it was a glorious part of my day.

I'm going to go back and read Love That Dog to the rest of my students. If you read these, start with this one, then move on to Cat. Your students, boys and girls alike, even big old fifth graders, will LOVE this book about poetry. My ten and eleven year old students thoroughly enjoyed it. We traveled along an emotional roller coaster with this story today. They were hypnotized by the ideas and rhythms in the book. Anything that can grab them and hold them so firmly is well worth reading aloud (and rereading, for that matter). I already have several students who want to check both books out of my library once I am done reading them aloud.

Read these books. Your students will love them. I guarantee it.

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