Category Archives: Poetry

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss: A look at Seussville.com

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I’ve always loved Dr. Seuss, for his rhymes and imaginative worlds, his silly vocabulary and his wonderfully creative characters. His books are a delight for people of all ages. In honor of his 110th birthday on March 2 and NEA’s Read Across America day, schools, libraries and bookstores all over the country are having events to celebrate (the library I work at, CMCL, is having a “Seven Days of Seuss Celebration!” all week- if you’re local, come check it out).

If you haven’t seen the Seussville website, it’s worth your time. This is the top resource for everything Seuss. The American Library Association has listed it as one of their “Great Websites for Kids” Packed with games and activities, it will get kids excited about books and reading. It’s also full of helpful resources for parents and educators. I love their list of “Tips for Reading with your Children“,  all the activities and craft ideas they have, and fun printables for kids! There are book and character guides, videos, author info, and more. If you’re an educator or librarian, don’t miss the great lesson plans to expand on your favorite Seuss titles. Here’s a description:

“Not only do Dr. Seuss’s imaginative stories make reading and learning fun, they also spark lively discussions about subjects as varied as conservation, racism, greed, perseverance, and self-discovery. These guides will help you think of fun and interesting ways for your students to learn about Dr. Seuss’s world and their own.”

One of our family’s favorite Seuss books lately is And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street but it’s really impossible to choose just one. I have fond memories of many Seuss stories from my own childhood and am thankful for all those weekly trips to the library and zillions of hours being read to. My top suggestion for raising a reader? Read! Have books everywhere (not only on bookshelves, but in the bathroom, car, playroom, office, etc.) and read to your kids every day. If you need more reading tips and suggestions, I highly recommend Jim Trelease’s The Read-Aloud Handbook.

Do you have a favorite Dr. Seuss book, character, or resource? I’d love to hear from you!

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Friday Favorite: Inspiration from author Bill Martin Jr.

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“A blessed thing happened to me. I had a teacher who read to me” -Bill Martin Jr.

It’s been hectic at our house this week, but I found some inspiration from one of my favorite children’s authors, Bill Martin Jr. He and I share Midwest roots; he actually worked in my hometown in Kansas at one point in his life. I was shocked to learn that he couldn’t read well until he went to college….but he was read to by his 5th grade teacher and fell in love with words and stories.

He remembers, “Miss Davis never missed a day reading to us. Reading aloud was an integral part of her ambitions for us kids. When we begged her to continue a reading session, she often complied, knowing (as children do) that a good story refuses to be left alone. It keeps nagging one to continue. That kind of nagging is life’s most pleasant reading instruction”.

“Even when type on a page didn’t make sense to me, I considered myself a reader — because I loved the sound and the cadence of the language, the power of narrative, and the images words concocted in my mind…I don’t write books, I talk them. Of course, words do get set down on paper at some point, but that’s not where I begin. My writing process is talking; I talk a story through many times to see if I’m saying what I mean. I need to hear what I have to say”.

“I wrote Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? on a Long Island Railroad train. I got on the train at the Plandome station, the first stop after Port Washington, and thirty-three minutes later, when we arrived at Penn Station, I had completed Brown Bear. I had the entire story worked out in my head. No one else could share the joy I was feeling about the story until I got to my office; in fact, the person in the seat behind me on the train had glanced at me a few times because I muttered the lines aloud to get the rhythm of the language just right”.

“Brown Bear was a sort of watershed for me. I saw what children were able to do with that story and I became more courageous in creating rhythmic, highly patterned stories”.

Here is an interview from Reading Rockets where he shares how he wrote “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” This is a great example of how lyrical and rhythmic the story is as a read (or sing)-aloud.

Julie Andrews- acting, singing…and children’s books?

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I grew up loving Julie Andrews. Let me just get that out of the way. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite films, and I may even own a Sound of Music piano book. And though I’m not a huge fan of the film Mary Poppins, I can appreciate it. Julie Andrews is not only a British icon, but a huge reader and book lover. I also love poetry (Hello, 811’s!). So when I saw Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year, selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton I had to check it out.

The book is divided into sections by Seasons, and then by months, with an additional section for special occasions like new babies and birthdays. It includes poetry from a wide variety of writers- Emily Dickinson, John Updike, Rupert S. Holland, Jack Prelutsky, and more. The index in the back is helpful because it lists the poems by holiday. The illustrations are delightful; vibrant, flowing paintings by Marjorie Priceman frame the words, making you want to linger on each page a little longer. This is a book for all ages, as various age groups will appreciate different poems about different topics. It has something for everyone. This collection is a treasure, unlike her Dumpy the Dump Truck books which I just can’t seem to get through without yawning. Some of my favorites include:

Emily Dickinson’s poem “Bee, I’m expecting you!” on page 71.

“Good Hot Dogs” by Sandra Cisneros on page 116- This one makes me hungry every time.

“little tree” by e.e. cummings p.150

On page 101, there is a wonderful poem called “Reading: Summer” by Myra Cohn Livingston

I love that she included a Joy Harjo poem, called “Remember” which concludes like this:
Remember you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember
(p. 91)