From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Stacy Mozer. Stacy is a third grade teacher in Connecticut.  She is also a middle grade writer and the Critique Group Coordinator for New Egland SCBWI. You can read more from Stacy on her website or you can follow her on twitter at @SMozer and @SportyGirlBooks.

Stacy Barnett Mozer

10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Poetry
By Stacy Barnett Mozer
It’s poetry month! Over the years I have found many ways to get kids to love poetry. Here are my top 10 favorites to use in the classroom, but you can use this tips at home with your own children too.

1. Share mentor texts
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech is a novel in verse about a boy name Jack who hates poetry. Every year I read this book aloud during my poetry unit. In the book, Jack writes to his teacher about the poems being shared with his class. Over the course of the book, Jack becomes more and more poetic and starts using the mentor poems to tell the story of his beloved pet. Not only is this book an amazing read because it gets kids to love poetry (especially the boys who feel like Jack), it also comes with all the mentor poems in the back for you to use with your class or child. But any poem can be a mentor text. You just have to love it.

2. Read poems aloud
Poetry is meant to be read aloud. After we go over how to read aloud and I share lots of examples, my students record themselves reading poetry. Then they listen to their recordings to see if they sound like they are reading a poem or a story (they want it to sound like a story). They rerecord their poem as many times as they need to until it sounds natural and their line breaks are based on meaning instead of only being based on the rhyme.
3. Make it a performance
My students love performing poetry. They come up with elaborate scenes, props, and even add music at times. The more fun they can have with the poetry, the more they will love it.
4. Invite in poets
We are very lucky to have Ted Scheu the Poetry Guycome to our school every year. He makes poetry fun and leads workshops on revision. But if you can’t invite a published poet, ask parents to come in and share favorites.
5. Turn Poetry into Art
My students love concrete poems. They can either write the poem in the outline of a shape or create a shape using words. Here is an example of each from Ken Nesbitt’s Poetry Site. There are some books with examples of concrete poems out there (Love that Dog has two) but I’ve found that the best place to find amazing concrete poems is to Google them under images. I share them on my Smartboard or make copies of my favorites.
6. Make it personal
Kids sometimes get stuck on what to write about. The way I handle this is to have them start by selecting a seed (a topic to explore). As I teach about different types of poetry, they use their seed to make their poems personal. At the end of the unit they make a tiny poetry book with some of their favorites.
7. Celebrate
Every year my school has a poetry picnic. The parents bring blankets and food and sit with their children as they take turns reading aloud a favorite poem. Some are copied from books but others the students write for the event. It is a lot of fun, especially when the weather is nice.
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8. Get outside
April is the perfect month to get outdoors. I have my students take their writer’s notebooks outside at recess, sitting under trees on a nice day, and by the window when it rains. Nature is full of poetry and you don’t have to look hard to find it.
9. Make lots of lists
Poetry is easy for every child to write, even those who hate writing. The best way to prove this to a child is to show them how to make list poems. Here’s one for this post:
Excited About Poetry
Sharing Mentor Texts
Reading poems aloud
Making it a performance
Inviting In Poets
Turning Poetry into Art
Making it Personal
Getting Outside
Making Lots of Lists
Enjoying it
10. Enjoy it together
The last thing to do to get kids excited about poetry is to be excited about poetry. Share your favorites. Write poetry too. Don’t worry if you aren’t a great poet. Taking risks in front of kids helps them take risks.
Have a great Poetry Month!!

Stacy, your post even gets this poetry-phobe brave enough to dive in! I love reading it, but am a bit nervous about writing it. Thanks for the encouragement, and for all the specific tips. Especially love the tip about reading aloud — so important with poetry!

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