Holiday Ode to Kwame Alexander

I meant to post this lovely interview a few days ago, but better late than never.

If you have a minute or two, enjoy children’s book author Kwame Alexander strut his poetry stuff for the holidays.

More by Kwame Alexander:

Looking to share books for kids for National Poetry Month in April? These books should be at the top of your list.

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, ‎ Chris Colderley,‎ and Marjory Wentworth,‎ with illustrations by Ekua Holmes

Kwame Alexander is one of the three authors who channel their favorite poets to create a wonderful celebration of poetry. This one is already receiving award-winning buzz.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Candlewick (March 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 076368094X
ISBN-13: 978-0763680947

 Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (National Geographic Kids) by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess, Deanna Nikaido, and photographs by Joel Sartore

Animal Ark is an amazing combination of image and text. Full of vibrant verbs, the poems leap off the page:

listen to the rumble
giant stomping feet
calling brothers … sisters

(See review in Previous Post)

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (February 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1426327676
ISBN-13: 978-1426327674

Book of Animal Poetry

You may pick up National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (compiled by J. Patrick Lewis) for a quick look through for National Poetry Month, but once you delve into it you will probably want to have it handy to read again and again.  animal-poetry

J. Patrick Lewis is currently our Children’s Poet Laureate. For this book, he combines some of the best poems written about animals with phenomenal photographs, many from National Geographic’s own archives. Starting with a chapter called “Welcome to the World” and moving through “the big ones,” the little ones,” “the winged ones,” etc., Lewis has arranged the poems in such a way that they feel like a coherent whole, even though they are by poets as diverse as D.H. Lawrence, Ogden Nash, and Jane Yolen.

I already have some favorites from the collection. “What is the Opposite of Pillow?” by Richard Wilbur struck my funny bone. “The answer, child, is armadillo.” The aerial photograph of a flock of flamingos on page 118 forms the shape of a flamingo the way the shape poem by J. Patrick Lewis does. Very cool!

In the back are two pages about writing poems the describes the various forms with humorous examples and encourages children to write their own poetry.

The best part is, this book just begs to be shared. Looking for child-friendly poetry appropriate for Poem in Your Pocket Day, April 18, 2013? Look no further than National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (September 11, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1426310099
ISBN-13: 978-1426310096


Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. We invite you to join us. For more information and a schedule, stop by Booktalking to see who is hosting each week.

This week’s round-up can be found at NC Teacher Stuff. Stop by and see Jeff’s new book!

Shoes for Me Book Inspires Activities

Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Mike Laughead has been released just in time to celebrate National Poetry Month in April. The story follows a colorful, bouncy romp through a shoe store with Hippo. Fliess creates a pitch perfect rhyme to keep the tempo fast-paced and exciting. You are compelled to turn the page to discover what shoes Hippo will find next.

“Feet got bigger,
heel to toe.
Time for new shoes.
Off we go!”

You get a good sense of the flavor of the book in this trailer.

Shoes For Me! is a sweet, amusing addition to your poetry shelf that is sure to appeal to the shoe shopper in all of us. It might also be useful for children who are shy about getting new shoes and need a little preparation for the big event.

Reading the book will encourage little fashion designers and poets to get creative. Satisfy their cravings with some fun “tie-in” activities.

1. Write a poem about shoes (or an article of clothing).

Shoe Acrostic (with alliteration)

What shoes should I wear today?

Sloppy slippers?
Holey high-tops?
Old oxfords?
Elegant espadrilles?
Sassy sandals?

I know, no shoes!

(By Roberta Gibson)

A shape poem of a shoe or t-shirt might be fun. ReadWriteThink has an interactive shape poem generator to help get started.

2. Design your own shoes on paper.

Draw some shoes on a piece of paper and color them with marker, crayons or colored pencils. Cut out bits of colorful cloth and glue them on the shoes. Pieces of ribbon or lace might be nice to add, too. Consider sprinkling on glitter or sequins to add shine.

If you don’t want to draw your own shoes, here are a pair of shoes to color (link is for.pdf file)

3. Decorate some canvas shoes


  • Clean canvas shoes
  • Fabric paint (older children might use acrylic)
  • Ribbons or lace (optional)
  • Sharpie marker (optional)
  • Stencils (optional)

Draw a design onto the shoes lightly with pencil with a stencil or freehand. You might want to color areas or apply the fabric paint only to the design. Try an Google image search with keywords “canvas shoe hand paint children” to see some great ideas.

365 Days of Crafts has an example of painted shoes.

Special thanks to Jessica and Selena for sharing their thoughts about this book.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 24 pages
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Corp (March 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0761458255
ISBN-13: 978-0761458258

Book was provided by author for review purposes.

Bursting With Poetry

April is a wonderful time for National Poetry Month. Flowers are blooming, the leaves are popping, insects are buzzing. Spring is a magical time of rebirth, which seems can only be fully and joyfully expressed in the form of poetry.

For example, the bright yellow brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) are blooming on the roadsides right now in Arizona.



The bright yellow masses inspired this simple acrostic poem:


Bright yellow flowers
Rattlesnakes slip into shade
Indigenous to Arizona
Tortoises munch
Tarantulas wander by
Lizards sunbathe quietly
Elegant bouquet

Bees slurp, then zip
Underneath is cool
Sun loving
Heat resistant

By Nathan and Roberta


And this haiku:

bee sits on flower

buzz buzz bee sips sweet nectar

quick! next flower waits

Roberta Gibson

If you are in the mood to read some insect-inspired poetry, then Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (illustrated by Eric Beddows), is an absoulutely wonderful older book to pull out and enjoy once again. It was the winner of 1989 Newbery Medal.Joyful-Noise

On page 3, the grasshopper poem is a perfect accompaniment to a good bout of spring fever.


Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 64 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (December 28, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0064460932
ISBN-13: 978-0064460934
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices


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Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Shelf-Employed.