April was a month of POETRY MADNESS in the Riverside Library. We started out by looking at 64 poetry books from the library. Rotating from one table to the next, students chose a poetry book they loved. The top 16 books made it to our Poetry Bracket.
Then, each week, we looked at the challenges on the board--reading poems, sharing thoughts and voting on which book we liked best in each challenge. Each week, a few books moved to the next level of the bracket while others were knocked out. Until we were down to just two books. The two books in our final challenge were LOOSE LEASHES by Ron Schmidt and Amy Schmidt and SCARUM FAIR. LOOSE LEASHES came out the winner and the kids were thrilled. This has definitely become the new favorite poetry book in the library this year.
I definitely learned (again) that kids LOVE funny poems. They like the others if we introduce them but left on their own, they are drawn to poems that are mostly fun. I was amazed though by how many kids stuck by their less popular choices. It as fun to see individual students find poetry books and poems that struck them for some reason--not understanding why everyone didn't see what they saw in the poem.
The process was a good one and the talk around poetry was different because of Poetry Madness. Every week, kids would come into the library, eager to see which books had won, which were left. There was informal talk about the books--they knew titles and poems.
My favorite moment of the whole month of Poetry Madness happened on Friday when the last group of 2nd graders was examining the chart. Many were cheering about Loose Leashes. Others were looking back at the books that didn't make it, talking about the ones they wished had gone farther in the bracket. One second grade boy said, "I don't know why, but I really wanted STEP GENTLY OUT to win." I said,"Oh, I loved that one too. Why did you like it?" He said, "I don't know. I guess when I read it, I felt peace." Everyone nodded and agreed. What an insightful comment. It was then that I realized that the small conversations around Poetry Madness had made a difference to lots of kids.
In the midst of Poetry Madness, we also celebrated POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY. Since we had spent so much time looking at 64 great poetry books, it was fun to see the variety of poems that kids chose to carry around that day. It has been nice to see them talking about poems and poetry books so naturally and happily.