BY SYLVIA VARDELL
Even though National Poetry Month (April) is over, it’s always a good time to share a poem. In fact, during this time of quarantine and online learning, I’m finding that reading a poem is just enough text for my distracted brain to handle. Plus, it gives me something to mull over and revisit, if I want to. So, if you’re looking for short text that is rich and meaningful to digest in small chunks of time—try poetry. Here are online resources that make it easy to dip into poetry and see what you think.
Poems on Pinterest
For several years now, I’ve been collaborating with poet and author Janet Wong in creating poetry anthologies for kids and teachers that feature new poems, plus teaching strategies for each of the poems. We’ve created a dozen books and have worked at developing free online resources for teaching and learning. One of my favorite tools is Pinterest because it’s so visual and easy to browse. You can find more than 300+ of our digital poem “postcards” on Pinterest organized in a variety of categories at the Pomelo Books Boards.
You can find poems of comfort, about science topics, for special celebrations, poems about animals, even poems in Spanish and “bare” poems to use as a springboard for drawing or writing activities. We love taking poems from our anthologies (with poet permission) and then creating these “digital postcards” with color, font, and images to help make the poem engaging and understandable for young people. Here are three examples that I created especially for Star Wars Day, May 4 (since I am a HUGE Star Wars fan):
And if you keep looking around Pinterest, you can find many more ideas for teaching poetry with strategies, booklists, games, cards, and more. Plus, you can create and share resources of your own and post them on Pinterest as can your students and colleagues.
The Academy of American Poets
This site offers sample poems, poet biographies, audio archives, National Poetry Month celebrations, curriculum resources, teacher discussion forums, teaching tips, and more
The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center
This site may interest older children who are interested in learning about the poet laureates of the United States, national prizes in poetry, special poetry events, and audio archives.
Poetry Foundation Children's Page
The Poetry Foundation maintains hundreds of poems (even accessible by cell phone) including a large library of poems for young people along with interesting articles and features.
The Poetry Minute
Here you’ll find poems for every day of the whole school year written by some of the best contemporary poets writing for young people. All can be shared in just a minute, making it easy to read aloud at school, in the library, or at home.
Favorite Poem Project
This site features Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky’s project to have average citizens audiotape their favorite poems.
BY ANGELA M. WISEMAN
COVID-19 has created stressful situations for many families - we may be concerned about many issues, including financial issues/job security, trying to meet professional obligations, and staying healthy. Children are experiencing general anxiety and stress, but also often experience negative feelings resulting from missing friends and family, adapting to changes in routines and activities, and fear of getting sick. In this post, I am going to suggest some ways to use children’s literature to start conversations about anxieties, sadness, and coping mechanisms. In addition, I share some resources for adults and children that might be helpful.
Books for talking about anxieties and fear
Here are two books that could cultivate conversations about anxiety and stress. I have used both of these texts with my colleagues in a trauma-informed family literacy program for parents who are in rehabilitation for substance use disorder to foster communication and build relationships. After describing the two books that could facilitate discussions, I provide some suggested ebooks about the CoronaVirus. Finally, I provide a few resources that could be helpful for families.
After the Fall by Dan Santat
This book is a variation on Humpty Dumpty and his great fall. The character in this text falls from a ledge while watching birds. After his recuperation, his fear of falling again affects the things he loves in life and his everyday tasks - from birdwatching to grocery shopping. In this book, we see how Humpty addresses his fears and “learned how to fly”.
While on the outset, this book may seem like an updated nursery rhyme, it is much more complex than that. After the Fall is Santat’s love letter to his wife, acknowledging her journey with anxiety and postpartum depression. You can learn more about the backstory at this Sharpread post. When my colleagues and I have used this book in our family literacy program, we have posed the following questions:
Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Weber
Ira is invited to his first sleepover, but he wonders...can he tell his friend Reggie that he needs his teddy bear? While his parents tell him it’s fine, his sister berates him and causes him to feel like his friend would make fun of his teddy bear’s name. Reggie initially decides not to bring him, but in the end, finds out that his friend has one too! So, he gets his own bear and can finally enjoy the sleepover.
While this book is older, it is infinitely relatable. First, we see how anxiety is affected by how others respond to us. Second, we can talk about the idea of security objects - things that make us feel better when we need them. This could be helpful during times of quarantine. One thing our family has done is talk about things that make us feel better when we are stressed. For instance, my sons are taking regular walks together and having time with their friends online.
In our family literacy program, we ask questions such as:
Books for talking about the Corona Virus with children
There are several ebooks that are free that are great resources to read with children to explain about COVID-19. Here are some we recommend:
The New York City School Library System recently published a list of free ebooks for children about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19. The list includes several books in Spanish as well as books in other languages.
Additional Helpful Resources
BY KATHY G. SHORT
If you are a teacher educator searching for on-line readings and book lists for your courses or a teacher creating new inquiry units that are global in focus, the following resources can support your work. You can also use these features as examples for students to create their own reviews, vignettes, or book recommendations:
- Articles and Classroom Vignettes:
- Dialogue Between Readers
- Global "Book of the Month"
- Interviews with Global Authors
- Global Reading Lists
- Book Lists on Global Cultures
- Book Search
- Global Literacy Community Grants
Kathy G. Short, University of Arizona
Worlds of Words images used with permission.
BY MARY LEE HAHN AND FRANKI SIBBERSON
Read aloud is the cornerstone of our literacy workshop. First and foremost, we use our read alouds to create and build a community of readers, but as we read, our conversations model the mind of the solitary reader. We gasp in surprise together, we stop at a cliffhanger and make predictions, we notice a small detail that we think will be important and jot a note to track what the author does with it, just like we want our students to do in their independent reading. Our read alouds are also models of good writing. We study how the author creates mood, manages the pacing, uses rich language, and structures the entire text (chapter book, picture book, information article, poem) to inform the ways we will write in the writing workshop.
What, then, will read aloud look like in our digital classrooms?
The premise of The Last Human is that the robots have killed off the human race because it was wrecking the planet. Spoiler alert in the title and the image on the cover of the book -- they didn’t get us all. In our very last read aloud together, one of my students wondered aloud if robots caused the coronavirus and were trying to kill us all off. I assured them that the coronavirus comes from nature, and humans will use all of the science and technology possible to understand the virus and stop its spread. It was at that moment that I knew I must finish The Last Human. We couldn’t leave the story before we got to the part where the robots and humans collaborate to create a sustainable future for the human race and for the planet. We had to get to the hope, to the positives. For our next read aloud, I gave my students the choice of four books I’ve loved. Not ones to shy away from heavy topics, they chose The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart.
When I think about the kind of book I’d like to read aloud during this time, I know I want a plot-based book - a book that kids will want to hear each day. I want a book they can get lost in and one that has enough to talk about without being too heavy. I’ve decided on The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko and I am excited to begin sharing it with students.
KEEPING THE CONVERSATIONS GOING
While our read alouds look and sound a bit different than they did in our physical classrooms, like so much of what we are doing with online learning, we have found that the closer we hold on to our core values as teachers, the more authentic our digital learning space feels.
Mary Lee Hahn is a CLA Communications Committee Member and a CLA Member. Franki Sibberson is NCTE Past President and a CLA Member. Both Mary Lee and Franki teach fifth grade in the Dublin (OH) City Schools, and they blog together at A Year of Reading.
BY ANGELA M. WISEMAN
In this blogpost, I want to start by addressing some of the anxiety, stress, and trauma that children might be facing during COVID-19. In a second blogpost on Thursday, April 30th, I will share some books that my colleagues and I have found helpful in talking with adults and children about trauma in hopes that these books can start facilitating conversations about feelings, fears, hopes, and dreams.
*Thanks to my friend and colleague Dr. Qiana Cryer-Coupet for sharing this visual. This comes from Dr. Erin Leyba’s page, which is a great resource for parents. Graphic posted with permission by Dr. Leyba.
Missing family - In addition to missing friends, many children miss their family. Families may find themselves separated from each other for many reasons, particularly if one family member is an essential worker. One mother shared that “my eight year old is staying with his bio dad/my ex-husband during the quarantine because my husband (his stepdad) is a nurse. He has been missing us terribly and we miss him so much, too!” One caring adult shared that she put together a care package for a child in their life with individual notes for them to open each day. They stated that “I hope this will let him know I’m thinking about him all the time!”
Missing Routines and Activities - Children miss their regular routines and activities that they do outside of school that have been shut down indefinitely, which could include sports and other activities they do with friends and on teams. One parent told me that, “My oldest son is a competitive rock climber, and he hasn’t been in the gym in over a month and really misses that physical outlet of climbing. He’s quite literally climbing the walls in this house.”
General feelings of anxiety - Finally, many children are sharing general feelings of anxiety that are not necessarily articulated to specific concerns. While it may be hard to pinpoint what the concerns are, these behaviors might show as sleeplessness, acting out, or tiredness. Children might not come out and say, "I'm worried about this!"
April 30, 2020 Update: Part II of post
BY ALLY HAUPTMAN
One of my greatest joys as a teacher is to see students’ creativity in action. As an elementary teacher, I was amazed at the creative minds of my students, and now as a professor I continue to delight in seeing teacher candidates create lesson plans and ideas to engage their students. As I reflect on my career as an elementary writing teacher, my best lessons were the ones that involved excellent children’s literature and allowed for student writing choice. This is where the creative magic happens! If I am honest with myself, my students were their most creative as writers when I offered a great mentor text and just got out of their way.
So, I offer you a lesson complex in ideas, but simple in delivery that can be presented in person or on-line, really in any context. I have used this lesson in university classrooms, with PreK-12 students, and my own children.
2. Share the text with your students and model what writing ideas you have based on this text.
3. After reading, ask the questions, “What writing ideas do you get from this text? What are the possibilities you see as a writer?”
4. Get out of the way and let kids write and create!
5. Give students time to share and learn from each other.
That’s it...five steps that lead to important discussion and writing possibilities.
The following is an example of this writing lesson in action with two of my own children. I started by reading Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai. The book begins with Malala talking about a television program she used to watch. The show’s main character was a boy with a magic pencil who Malala saw as a hero, always helping others. She dreamed of having her own magic pencil. She goes on to tell her story of fighting for girls’ education, realizing that she really did have a magic pencil all along. She was able to change the world with her pencil as she fought for educational equality. The last line in the book reads, “One pen, one teacher, one student can change the world.”
Here is the key to this lesson, and this is how I get out of the way of their creativity. I asked my children to write for ten minutes about what ideas they got from Malala’s Magic Pencil. It is as simple as that. I did not give them my prompt that might be presented from this book such as, “What would you do with a magic pencil?” I let them figure out how this book would be a mentor text for their own writing. The beauty of presenting a text and then letting students figure out their own writing possibilities is that they bring their background knowledge, voice, and writing style and combine it with the author’s ideas from the text presented. When you present a mentor text and ask the students to see the writing possibilities, the variety is astounding.
Just with my own daughters, my fifth grader, who is the youngest and always trying to prove herself to her sisters, wrote about a magic tree. In her story, no one believes her that this tree is magic and she hatches a plan to show everyone that she is right. She brought in her ideas and showed strong voice. My eighth grade daughter decided to write about the Infiniti Pen. It is worth mentioning that all of my daughters are obsessed with Marvel movies. So, the Infiniti Pen was inspired by Thor’s hammer in that only the worthiest person in the village could pick up the pen because of its persuasive powers. In this piece, my daughter chose to bring in her own voice and combine Marvel with Malala’s ideas. These writers were able to choose their ideas and use their voices. When we present possibilities through mentor texts, readers also begin to read like writers.
The following list includes texts I have used to spark writing ideas over the past few years with teacher candidates, K-12 students, and my own children.
25 books with endless possibilities…
Animals by the Numbers by Steve Jenkins
Bookjoy, Wordjoy by Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón
Camela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
Claymates by Dev Petty, illustrated by Lauren Eldridge
Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Ana Ramírez
Cute as an Axolotl by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand
Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
Dude! by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat
Dreamers/Sonadores by Yuyi Morales
Friends and Foes: Poems About Us All by Douglas Florian
Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Love by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoёt
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael López
Nope! by Drew Sheneman
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López
The Girl With a Mind for Math: The Story of Raye Montague by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel
Water Land by Christy Hale
What Makes a Monster? by Jess Keating, illustrated by David DeGrand
Wild World by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Hvass & Hannibal
Ally Hauptman is a CLA Board Member and is the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee. She is an associate professor at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.
BY ALEXANDRA LAMPP BERGLUND
Transitioning to online education isn’t an easy task for educators, parents, and students by any means, and adapting and modifying online instruction for students with (dis)abilities presents unique challenges. Providing accessible literature in both print and audio versions is essential to many learners that have (dis)abilities. However, this can be quite challenging in distance learning contexts as students may not have access to a variety of resources and assistive devices available at school. Several apps exist to support this need, particularly in the realm of literacy learning. As discussed in previous posts, Epic! is an excellent resource that offers a wide array of children’s literature in a visual format alongside audio tracks with a “read-to-me” tool for many of its texts. Another app that I’ve found particularly helpful in my own preschool classroom is Tales2Go.
Providing audio material by using apps like Tales2Go and other resources such as text to speech software or sharing how to create audio materials with students are just a few small steps in making online literacy learning accessible to students with (dis)abilities, but they are important ones. Accessibility is essential, as we continue to navigate this digital landscape together, as educators, students, and family and community members. Together, we can all make small adaptations that make big differences in our online classrooms which we continually strive to make inclusive for all learners.
Alexandra Lampp Berglund is the Chair of the CLA student committee. She is a doctoral student in Language and Literacy Education at The University of Georgia.
BY JANET K. OUTLAW
Once you have gotten your account and topic set up, you can share it with your students for a variety of different discussions. One great idea would be for every student to give a book talk of a new children’s book they read at home!
As mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are several resources for free access to children’s books right now:
- Unite for Literacy has books that are great for primary grade students.
- Epic has an amazing collection of children’s literature.
Some of my favorite texts that are available on Epic are A Different Pond (by Bao Phi, Illustrated by Thi Bui) and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga (by Traci Sorell, Illustrated by Frané Lessac). A Different Pond touches on themes of immigration, loss from war, and family pride. We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga prompts you to think again about all of the people and things in your life you are grateful for.
These are just a couple of books you can recommend to your students or allow them the choice to read a book of interest to them! Using Flipgrid, you can have discussion question prompts to guide students through their book talk, such as:
- What happened in the story?
- Did the characters change during the story?
- How did the story connect you or your experiences?
- Check out a recent article on Flipgrid by Kathy Schmidt published in the School Library Journal: VIDEO: A Librarian's Guide to Flipgrid, the Basics and Library-Specific Tips.
- Flipgrid offers a helpful video tutorial for students on Vimeo: Getting Started Students.
LORA M. DEWALT
Instagram is a great social media platform for connecting with authors, illustrators, and publishers. If you are not familiar, Instagram is a photography-based social media platform where people share posts (usually one photo with a caption) or stories (usually multi-page photos with embedded text or gifs). Instagram accounts can be set up as public or private.
Authors and illustrators of picturebooks, middle grade novels, and YA texts are active on Instagram with public accounts. They often give sneak peeks into their lives by showcasing their writing studios, inspiring quotes, or their latest doodles
Instagram Inquiry Project
One assignment could be an Instagram Inquiry. I envision that undergraduate or graduate students might inquire into their personal interests with a particular author or illustrator on Instagram. Possible topics might include “What can we learn about an illustrator’s process from watching their Instagram stories and posts?” or “What do I notice about the way an author crafts their captions, how does that reflect (or differ) from their writing in books?” Perhaps a student might ask “What did a particular author share prior to March 2020—what do they seem to be sharing now?”'
This inquiry assignment might be offered as a follow up to an author study, which Erika Thulin Dawes wrote about on the 3/24/2020 CLA Blog.
Instagram TV (IGTV)
Sometimes authors and illustrators host an “Instagram Live” or pre-record videos for IGTV. IGTV videos are generally 3-10 minutes and currently run ad free. This feature is available for anyone with an Instagram account. You can tell when an Instagram post connects to IGTV because it has a little white TV with a swiggle/lightning bolt on it.
Members of the children’s literature community have been hosting Q&As, doodling sessions, and even read alouds. Mac Barnett is posting a series he calls Live Cartoons in which he shares his drawings with hilarious voice overs. Mac Barnett also shares an evening read aloud in his series Mac’s Book Club Show. Other great IGTV read alouds include Marla Frazee’s reading of her wordless picturebook The Farmer and the Clown which she shared in collaboration with #SaveWithStories, which is available on Marla's Instagram.
Other authors are giving great heart to hearts with their audiences about being a creator and artist in this period of #StayAtHome. Jason Reynolds recently shared a creative game he plays with a card deck (Disruptus) to keep his mind in an imaginative space by putting two random items together. Christian Robinson recently shared a story in which he demonstrated how to create a mosaic rainbow with recycled materials as a symbol of gratitude.
One possible assignment could to be watch a particular video or a few episodes of an author/illustrator’s series and reflect on the intended audience, the genre of multimedia art, or a comparison/contrast with pre-recorded YouTube read alouds. IGTV could also be used as a host for students to respond to authors and illustrators with videos of their own.
Active Instagram Authors & Illustrators
Many authors, illustrators, and publishers are active on Instagram. You (or your students) can engage with them by asking questions in their comments section. A lot of them are very prompt at replying! Most of the time, authors and illustrators will share glimpses into their lives (well, the life they are willing to share on a public social media account).
Earlier this semester I shared Erin Entrada Kelly’s Instagram account with some undergraduate students while we read Hello Universe. In particular, I was showcasing Erin’s love of sharing the international covers for her books. A week or so later, one student told me that she had started following Erin on Instagram and ordered all the books Erin posts about so she can read them too! This was a great reminder to me that even when students are not “assigned” a task, just providing them access into the world of authors and illustrators can be powerful.
@aishacs (Aisha Saeed)
@andominguezzzz (Angela Dominguez)
@authorderrickdbarnes (Derrick Barnes)
@colleenaf (Coleen AF Venable)
@cordell_matthew (Matthew Cordell)
@erikalsanchez (Erika L. Sanchez)
@erinentrada (Erin Entrada Kelly)
@jessicalovedraws (Jessica Love)
@macbarnett (Mac Barnett)
@marlafrazee (Marla Frazee)
@nicolayoon (Nicola Yoon)
@oge_mora (Oge Mora)
@rainbowrowell (Rainbow Rowell)
@Sean_qualls (Sean G. Qualls)
@theartoffun (Christian Robinson)
Lo DeWalt is a CLA member. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Lo co-teaches an undergraduate children’s literature course and works as a district administrator in Manor, Texas.
BY PATTY ROSATI
Many publishers have compiled their best online resources in central locations to help you find what you’re looking for and to spark your imagination. Here are some details about what HarperCollins and other publishers are doing to support you through these uncertain times.
HarperCollins has collected free, sharable resources for all reading levels on Harper at Home. This is also where you can find our updated permissions policy for online story time, live events and classroom read-aloud videos. Many other publishers have expanded their permissions policies to help meet current needs, so be sure to check their websites and social platforms for more information.
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Content created specifically for teachers and librarians lives at HarperStacks at Home.
Every Monday afternoon, HarperStacks posts videos, blogs, and other resources for teachers, librarians, and parents to keep kids learning while keeping it fun! Our first video was with Newbery-Medal winning author Erin Entrada Kelly who talked about Creative Bravery.
We have videos scheduled with Elizabeth Acevedo, Rita Williams Garcia, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Kelly Yang coming this month and next. You can get all of this content on Facebook and Twitter.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has picture book activities for kids, videos, and educator guides for many of their titles, including the book that many librarians and educators are currently buzzing about, Stamped.
Random House Children’s Books features activities and guides for a number of their titles used in schools, including Wonder and the Magic Tree House books.
There are so many other good, free materials available from a variety of big and smaller publishers. Our friends at The Children’s Book Council have been compiling a list of publisher content that supports educators. Please check them out to find out what other publishers are offering.
Please feel free to be in touch to let us know if there is anything else that we publishers can do for you. We are here to help!
Supporting PreK-12 and university teachers as they share children’s literature with their students in all classroom contexts.
The opinions and ideas posted in the individual entries are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of CLA or the Blog Editors.
Book Discussion Guides
Global Children’s And Adolescent Literature
Global Children’s And Adolescent Literature
International Children's Literature
Journal Of Children's Literature
Nurturing Lifelong Readers
Young Adult Literature