Celebrate National Poetry Month


In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’re again sharing excerpts and accompanying activities for some of our favorite poetry on audio for K-12. Poetry on audio is a great way to introduce students to poetry—they hear proper meter, diction, and pronunciation, allowing them to more easily analyze complex figurative language. If you use this or other audio in your classroom, leave a comment to this post telling us how and you’ll be entered to win a copy of one of the books below on CD! (See the end of this post for details.) All of the audiobooks mentioned in this post are available unabridged from Recorded Books.

spokenartsThe Spoken Arts Treasury Volume 2: 100 Modern American Poets Reading Their Poetry
AudioFile Earphones Award Winner
Bonus Audio Download!: “Falling Asleep Over the Aeneid” by Robert Lowell (text version)
Audio Excerpt: “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes (text and additional audio)
Lesson Plan: Narration Comparison and Close Reading

locomotionLocomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
AudioFile Earphones Award Winner, National Book Award Finalist (Young People’s Literature), Coretta Scott King Honor Book
Audio Excerpt: List Poem
Lesson Plan: Write Your Own List Poem

joyfulnoiseJoyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman
Newbery Award Winner
See our past posts for four sets of complete lesson plans, plus the entire downloadable audiobook!
Lesson Plans 1: Identify how form influences function.
Lesson Plans 2: Descriptive Verbs, Alliteration, Metaphors and Similes
Lesson Plans 3: Point of View
Lesson Plans 4: Meter, Rhythm, and Tempo

ifyourenotIf You’re Not Here, Please Raise Your Hand: Poems About School by Kalli Dakos
An International Reading Association Children’s Choice
Audio Excerpt: Hiding in the Bathroom & A Lifetime in Third Grade
Lesson Plan: Point of View and Figurative Language (2 pages)


* Leave a comment below (be sure to enter a valid email address, or we won’t be able to contact you if you win!) telling us how you share poetry with your students or what your favorite National Poetry Month activity is. We’ll pick our favorite response to win!
* Tweet (we’re @recordedbooks) or blog about the contest using the hashtag #rbk12 and you can leave a second comment linking to your tweet or post—you’ll get another contest entry. Spread the word!
* Again, be sure you leave a valid email address with your comment so we can contact you. If you’re picked as a winner and we can’t contact you, the prize will got to the next winner. (You don’t need to re-enter your address within the body of the comment, though. Just be sure it’s in the form when you leave your comment.)
* Drawing will be held on April 30, 2010 at 12:00PM Eastern time. Winners will be contacted by email to get mailing information. The winner will receive one copy of one of the titles mentioned above (winner’s choice) on CD.


37 Responses

  1. After years and years of the same poetry lessons, reading the same poetry books, doing many of the traditional poetry activities… this year my 3rd graders are doing Twitter poems. Create a poem in 140 characters or less. It has really helped them focus on word choice, composition, and creative use of characters. Since they are only 8-9 yr olds, they don’t get their own Twitter accounts. But, we are looking at ways (or people) who would like to create a Twitoetry group to share online with other elementary students.

  2. I have always appreciated the power of poetry in working with students that have special needs. Now that I work with pre-service teachers at Trinity Christian College, I am always sure to share the format of haiku, senryu, cinquain, bio-poems, acrostics, and even a new discovery: the minute poem (a poem of exactly 60 syllables). I encourage teachers to have their students participate in various writing contests and my favorite story is about a grand old magazine called ‘The Saturday Evening Post” that ran a monthly limerick contest.
    At the time I was teaching 10 students in a self contained classroom that contained high school students with various special needs. They had all worked hard to construct a poem to fit the picture in the “Post”. I decided to send the poems in as a group and included a letter explaining that my students were specially challenged and wondered if perhaps the editor could simply acknowledge our efforts with a brief response. About a month after sending in the poems a large tube came in the mail and was addressed to my class. An editor had taken the time to write a personal response and included a Norman Rockwell type poster for each student in the class!
    Encourage your students to keep writing and find means to have their work appreciated! Thanks for this new contest as well. I will sahre it with my teachers-to-be.
    Prof Pete Post

  3. I am a student at Trinity Christian college. I do not have my own classroom yet, but will be getting one hopefully within the next year or two and I start student teaching next spring. For Poetry month I would like to do a few things. First, I would read some poetry by Emily Dickinson and have the students read some of her poetry to themselves. Since, she is a well-known artist. Then I would hav the students research and find their own poetry and have them read it to the class. If there is a poem they don’t understand then I would have pick apart the poem and go through it bit by bit. Lastly, I would have the students write a poem themselves and have them present their poem and why they picked that topic to write poetry on. I would also encourage them to find words in the dictionary that they don’t normally use to expand their vocabulary and to get them thinking about different words other than the day-to-day vocabulary.

  4. I am a Junior at Trinity Christian College and hope to graduate after next year. I am a double major in Special Education and Elementary Education. I don’t have my own classroom yet, but I hope to someday. The poetry on tape sounds like an awesome thing to bring into a Special Education classroom. The reason I say this is because it allows the students to hear the poem. A lot of students struggle with reading and these CDs will give them a great opportunity to still listen to poetry. These would be a great thing in any classroom.

  5. I will have my boys listen to the poetry at night before bedtime. This will be part of my effort to supplement the public school system which doesn’t seem to have the time or effort for such things as a poetry month. Thank you for sending this to my attention!

  6. I am the School Library Media Specialist. Each classroom teacher has their students write poems which I then submitted to the Pine Tree Poetry Contest. We have a large number of our students published every year. The poems are displayed on a large board outside the Media Center during Poetry Month.

    I also do Poem in Your Pocket Day where all the 6th grade students and Staff select their favorite poems and keep them in their pockets. As part of my Multicultural Read Aloud people are given the opportunity to share their poems with the group. Everyone enjoys listening to the variety of choices.

  7. Recorded books are a great way to increase auditory comprehension in visual learners. Paired with its written counterpart, they increase reading fluency as well. Recorded books are fun. Who doesn’t like a good story read to them by someone whose voice is animated? I use recorded books for creating interest in reading in general, to discuss vocabulary, and to compare and contrast books with movies and other stories within the same genre. I also like to have the kids create artwork while listening to increase comprehension.

  8. I have shared this website/blog with the teachers at my school in the hopes that more of them will explore and work with poetry in their content area. I am working diligently to promote April as poetry month within our school. Poetry is a weak link we are working to strengthen.

  9. During National Poetry Month, we have held a Poetry Alive day for the past 19 years. The day features students reading their own poetry, or their favorite poetry, our Madrigals group singing, many musicians performing, and we have a Slam Poet come and present their work. It is a fanstastic day, and the impact of having students hear a profesisonal poet performer makes all the difference. Using audio books would help expose students to the level of performance that shows poetry at its best.

  10. I am helping a struggling group of 7th graders achieve their AR goals. Two perfect books to use are Love that Dog and Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech. In the short time that we have, a few minutes a day, these novels written as a poetry journal, with famous poems in the back to inspire the main character, Jack, are perfect for my struggling readers. If you are going to use them, read the famous poems, in the back of the book, first, then turn to the start of the story and read the journal entries. We read the first book out loud together, which 7th graders are reluctant to do. However, with this short novel, soon, everyone takes a turn, which gives me a picture of their reading difficulties. Then we listen to the Recorded Books copy of Hate that Cat. Everyone loves these books. Perfect!

  11. Recorded books are a perfect tool to help struggling readers understand books at their interest level. Since you can listen at a higher level than you can read it makes many books accessible to children who labor through the material. The poetry is perfect for a classroom activity and all ages love “A Lifetime in Third Grade!”

  12. I have always love poetry and it is an easy way to share writing and the six traits. On a regular basis I read poetry aloud to my class. I also use recorded books to play both novels and poems read by various authors so the students have the chance to hear a variety of people read aloud – and their interpretations of how a poem should be read vs. how a poem is read by the author is also an interesting conversation starter dealing with voice and perception. I would love to add more audiobooks of short stories and poems to my classroom collection. The students really enjoy them. For Poetry month, i plan to have students perform from “Joyful Noises” and I will read a wide variety of poems from various authors – from comedy to tragedy, including “old school” &”new school” styles.

  13. After working with many different middle school aged students I have decided that you need to be interactive, enthusiastic, and fun. While teaching a lesson about comma’s in a diverse school I decided to make a rap to “rap up” the lesson.

    “Now you know a little about commas
    Don’t be afraid to share it with yo’ momma.
    Use it with, and, but, or
    Listen up for a little more.
    Be careful of the comma splice
    That thing, it isn’t nice.
    To express some emotion and flare
    You could say, “Oh, look over there!”
    Commas break up a series of phrases
    So your readers can navigate the mazes
    Don’t forget what you learned today.
    Use commas correctly ever which way.”

    After performing this rap, the students left the class singing it and I can feel confident that they know their “stuff.” Poetry is a great way to express what you are feeling, to inform, and to connect with others. Don’t be afraid to incorporate poetry into your classroom TODAY!

  14. I am a student at Trinity Christian College and future special education teacher, and the only thing I remember about poetry is that I didn’t like it!

    Maybe that was because poetry was always accompanied by or followed by boring/dry quizzes and worksheets, and was introduced to me with the old “Do it because we tell you to,” attitude. This is an example of the state standards in the curriculum being delivered to the general education class that I was in, whereas my special education teacher (look in the 2nd response) did poetry with his students in a way that I would’ve found to be much more fun, engaging, and creative. As Meredith Menton said in her post above, “Poetry is a weak link we are working to strengthen.” and I believe this is the case across many schools. I as a future special education teacher must make sure that I make learning poetry a fun experience for my students, by using things like technology or audiobooks, Twitter poems, contests, plays, etc.

  15. “Beware Brethren”

    For those that learn to grow
    For those that learn to love
    It is I, your greatest enemy
    For you have what I do not possess
    But what I yearn to possess

    So I tell you
    Beware of the lonely man
    Beware of the depressed
    Because he is the one
    That will deprive you of what you posse

    I am the lonely man
    I am the depressed
    I have not what you have
    But I want what you have
    I need what you have

    So therefore, brethren
    I shall take what I need
    And leave you with nothing
    But a broken heart
    And a lonely world

  16. “Take Me Away”

    This world I know not
    Yet this world claims to know me
    What have I got that you so desperately need?

    Is it my power, is it my blood?
    What do you see in me?
    What is it about me that you love?

    I have nothing!
    You give me nothing!

    Yet you continue to prey
    Yet you continue to speak
    Your soft whispers in my ear,
    What do they mean?

    Why, God, oh should it be me
    That must see this through?

    Why have you chosen me
    When I have nothing to give?

    I’ll give you my heart,
    I’ll give you my soul
    But I beg of you,
    Take me with you

  17. Poems are useful in the classroom as they are read differently from ordinary text and they offer children access to a wide variety of experiences. When using a poem, teachers should provide time and opportunity for individual student reflection; poems must be experienced before they can be analyzed because students need time to be understood.

    To celebrate Poetry Month I would have students create a book of poetry. The students would learn a variety of different poems and would have the opportunity to write about topics that are important to them or that they feel inclined to write about. Once the students complete the poems they will be compiled into a hardcover book for them to keep for themselves. This activity would be incorporated throughout the entire month.

  18. Poetry is great to read silently on one’s own, but the real power of poetry emerges when a poem is read aloud . Poetry is best shared.
    Eating Poetry
    Mark Strand


    Eating Poetry

    Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
    There is no happiness like mine.
    I have been eating poetry

  19. During the Month of April I provide the students with a variety of poetry books in library. I instruct them to find a poem they would like to read to the class. The students and I share our favorites by taking turns and reading them aloud. My students really enjoy this. I try to expose them to all different types of poetry throughout the month and then have the students write poems of their own too.
    Put a poem in your pocket day is April 29 – sounds like a fun way to get everyone excited about poetry.

  20. I really like the idea of audio poetry because students seem to react more positively to books on tape than to reading on their own. Having poetry be audio would help guide students along and provide extra support. Many times when students need to read poems on their own, they are so overwhelmed by the words that they miss the message. Being able to listen to the poems being read with the proper expression and inflection would allow them to focus on the meaning and feeling of the poem.

    I’m going into the field of special education so when I think of teaching poetry, it’s geared toward that population. I think that when teaching poetry, it would be very beneficial to incorporate things such as facial expressions, kinesthetic representations, and sensory activities. For special education students it’s very important that instruction be multi-modal and making these elements part of a poetry unit would allow these students to experience poems through multiple senses. I would have them get into a poem by using props and creating sound effects and motions to convey what was happening in the poem.

  21. I am currently tutoring a student with special needs and our time together is focused on writing poetry and the ability to express oneself. I didn’t think about using examples of audio poetry to help introduce the poetry concepts and maybe this would be a beneficial way to introduce different types of poems we could write! Thanks!

  22. Like Brie, I’m also tutoring a student with special needs, and we too are working on writing poetry. The student that I’m currently working with has difficulty retrieving information and communicating the information verbally as well as in written form. She also is so used to the school system of “right and wrong” that she doesn’t understand the concept of freedom when it comes to writing. My goal in working with this student is to introduce her for the first time the joy of writing. I want to show her that whatever she names the unicorn in the story, whatever the frog turns into after kissed by the princess, and whatever color she wants to color the person in her poem, THAT’S OKAY! Currently, I’m trying to instill in her the idea that it’s okay to be creative, and “break the rules” when writing. When I ask her questions while writing such as, “What would you like to name the unicorn?” She often responds, ” I don’t know the answer”. However, the more I’ve been working with poetry with her, the more she is seeing the power and freedom she can have when she writes. It’s an exciting process, and I’m very privileged in what I have the opportunity to do.

  23. Poetry can be very useful in the classroom. There are many poems that help students remember rules to math, reading, writing, etc. Many of my teachers used poems to help us remember things pretaining to lessons. I thought it was helpful and I will use it when I become a teacher. Poetry can also be very meaningful to students so if I was a teacher at this moment, I would have the students write a poem about something/someone that is important to them. This can also be a time for them to reflect and think about the things that are important to them

  24. We sponsor an “Poetry Idol” during the month
    of April in our schoool library. Our students can recite their poetry in front of other students. Then, our panel of judges give points to the first, second, and third place winners. Everyone who participates gets a
    “Poetry Idol” certificate.

  25. I’m a librarian in a public school, and for Poetry Month, I have been reading a poem aloud during the announcements each morning. I try and pick ones that speak to middle school kids, and they really seem to be enjoying it. They often stop me in the halls or come in the library to tell me how a poem made them laugh, think, etc. This coincides with the teaching of poetry units in both grades 7 and 8.

  26. This Friday (the Friday before vacation) our team is celebrating National Poetry Month with a poetry slam. Students will recite a recently-penned free-verse piece. Naomi Shihab Nye has been an inspiration for us. Check out “Pacify” from her great little book, Honeybee.

    Also, student have been reading one short piece of poetry each morning during our daily announcements. Way to go, HBMS seventh graders!

  27. As an elementary School Library Media Specialist I do a variety of things during National Poetry Month to enrich our students and deepen their understanding and appreciation of poetry. In addition to participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day, we give kids a chance to orally share their poetry by hosting “Poetry Lunches” every day in April. During the last 10 minutes of lunch, students can come up for “open mic” time and share either their favorite poem or a poem they have written. We have so much excitement for this event that we now have a sign up sheet so that we can make sure that everyone who wants to can participate. I have different poetry lessons for each grade level. One of my favorites is listening to a recording of Casey at the Bat. I encourage the students to visualize the ball game while they listen. Then we talk about our own experiences and how they relate to there being “No joy in Mudville that day”. To lighten the mood we then do choral readings of “Take Me Out of the Bathtub” by Alan Katz and follow up with students writing their own sports related parodies of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”.

  28. I am really enjoying Poetry Month. Last year students and I wrote lots of poems. This year we are analyzing the poems of others. I LOVE it when I can see the “ah-hah” in their faces.

  29. I have found poems to be helpful in the classroom for remembering things. I can remember when I was younger there would be many things that I would not understand until my teacher put it into a poem. They were always short and easy to remember. I was able to remeber the poems which then in turn helped my grades.

    As I adventure into the classroom I tend to use little things like poems for the students. Anyway that makes it easy and understandable to the student is best!

  30. During the year, the children are encouraged to add their original poems to our classroom “POE – TREE” (a small artificial tree in our poetry corner with many leaves to which the poems are attached); Then in April, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the poets vote on the best poem on the tree (you only get to vote if you’ve contributed to the tree!) and the winner gets a small, real tree to take home and plant in his or her yard! This reward ties in with Earth Day which is also in April.

  31. I start every story time class with poetry – the selections reflect the season, holiday or books we will be reading. It is amazing how quickly the students find a place to sit and get ready to listen. The children “shush” each other so they can hear the poems!
    I am a K-5 librarian.
    Thank you.

  32. To become a better writer my students read, listen, and write poetry together. Sometimes an interest is sparked when a student can close their eyes, listen to a piece of poetry through new voice and form a picture in their mind. Listening to a recording of various pieces of poetry can truly grab a student’s imagination.

  33. For National Poetry Month, students in my reading class researched a famous poet of their choice. Students had to create a powerpoint presentation to present their poet to the class and share two poems.

    Students also wrote various poems and had a Poetry Slam.

  34. April’s genre is poetry. I use my HS library website to inform students that it is National Poetry Month. The official icon is added to the site, to the library calendar, and a short recommended poetry list is also included.

  35. I teach at-risk middle school students during the day and then twice a week I teach adult education. Some of my students have difficulty with the English language & most lack motivation. To help stimulate their desire to learn, I use the student’s imagination to write short poems that tell a fact or two. The students like to help each other come up with crazy verses and rhymes to help them remember the rules for math operations, grammar, the planets in the solar system or new vocabulary. Poems sung stick in their heads and they do better on tests.
    When you get to sing,
    you won’t be a ding
    You can write a poem,
    on your head is no dome,
    Edgar Allan Poe,
    He was no Joe,
    He wrot the raven,
    So we are behaven

  36. […] may have noticed if you follow @recordebooks on Twitter, we had so many wonderful entries to the National Poetry Month contest that we decided to pick three winners instead of just one! Thank you all so much for participating […]

  37. last time, i joined a writing contests on the internet and i won a small price for writing a nice piece of writing *;,

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