Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Ready for POETRY MADNESS to begin!

I am not a big basketball fan but do keep up a bit with MARCH MADNESS. I really have no choice as my husband is obsessed with it for several weeks each year. But I did pay attention when Tony Keefer started talking about the March "Book" Madness he was doing in his classroom. It sounded like such a great way to create amazing conversations and celebrations around books.  I made a mental note to myself to remember this idea next March. Then came March's #Titletalk on Poetry. It was a great discussion as all #Titletalks are and my head was spinning with all of the ideas. Somewhere in the conversation, someone mentioned that you could do a Poetry type March Madness in April for National Poetry Month. The answer to the part of my personality that hates to wait to implement a great idea!

So, this week, we begin POETRY MADNESS in the Riverside Library! It will be a month long event and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.

Before I got too far along in my planning, I needed to really think about my big goals. I am not one to do events just because they sound fun. I need to make sure the time spent adds up to something for my students.  And I don't often do the same thing with all classes in grades 1-5. Last year, we did the POETRY PICNIC in the library and kids are still talking about it.  It was a fun two weeks and gave kids lots of experiences with poetry but the interest in poetry didn't carry beyond the picnic.

Poetry seems to be hit or miss in the library. If a class is working with poetry, kids seem interested but I very seldom have kids check out poetry for their independent reading.  I realized that our kids know books, characters, and authors of lots of books but they do not really know poetry books and poets.  Kids stop me in the hall (several times an hour:-) but I realize they never talk to me about poetry.

So POETRY MADNESS is about changing this. One of the things I love about my job is the ability to invite whole school conversations. Because I see all students, I see siblings. I love when one sibling has heard about something in the library from their brother at home over dinner. I love to hear that conversations around books have made it to the dinner table.

One goal I have is to create a whole school conversation around poetry. Because this is a 4 week event/tournament, there is lots of time for this. I am hoping to have a few displays, include some tournament winners, etc. on our morning announcement TV show, etc.  Just quick things to get the entire school community talking about poetry.

I also want kids to begin to see poetry as something worthy of choosing for independent reading time. By getting their hands on 64 books, I am hoping they find books they want to go back to in the future. Because of this goal, I did not bring in any books from the public library, etc. Instead, I pulled them all from our library shelves.

And, I am hoping to have kids begin to know poems and poets in the ways they know characters and favorite authors.  Because we will be really thinking about 16 books, I will have the opportunity to share information, read poetry, visit poets' websites, etc.

So, we started this week with 64 books.  There was no real system for choosing the 64 books. I wanted books from our library and teachers had already checked several out.  I tried to find a variety of authors, forms, publication dates, etc. Each class rotated to 6 tables during their class time to browse the books. Then, every student in grades 1-5 had a chance to vote for 1 book they were hoping would be in the tournament.  It was such fun to listen to the conversations as they revisited old favorites and discovered new books.

After the first round of voting, we will have 16 books in the POETRY MADNESS tournament. I will place the books in a bracket based on votes (1st and 16th, 2nd and 15th, etc.). So, next week we'll have 8 votes to make. I'll introduce the 16 winners/8contests and kids will vote. I am hoping to have time to read a poem or two from each, share a bit about the book, etc. so kids have something to vote from. I know we will revisit some of these books a few more times so that gives me some flexibility.

The following rotation, we'll be down to 8 winners and 4 contests. And so on. I figure each week, we'll get to dig deeper into the books that are still in the running.  During these last weeks, I will build on opportunities as they occur based on the books chosen and the conversations.

My hope is that conversations around poetry will become part of our school community.  I hope that kids share some of this at home with families at the dinner table and that they begin to include more poetry in their conversations as readers.

Below is a list of the books that we have started with. Can't wait to see this play out!

African Acrostics by Avis Harley
Animal Poems by Valerie Worth
Amazing Faces by Lee Bennet Hopkins
Antarctic Antics by Judy Sierra
The Arrow Finds its Mark by Georgia Heard
The Basket Counts by Arnold Adoff
Beast Feast by Douglas Florian
Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky
Beyond Old McDonald by Charley Hoce
Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle
Blackberry Ink
Bookspeak by Laura Purdis Salas
Busy in the Garden by George Shannon
Butterfly Eyes by Joyce Sidman
Button Up! By Alice Schertle
Chicken Scratches by George Shannon
City I Love by Lee Bennett Hopkins
The Cuckoo's Haiku by Michael J. Rosen
Dark Emperor by Joyce Sidman
Dear Hot Dog by Mordical Gerstein
Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian
Dogku by Andrew Clements
Dogs Rule! By Daniel Kirk
Doodle Dandies by J. Patrick Lewis
Emily Stew by Thomas Rockwell
Emma Dilemma by Kristine O'Connell George
Every Day ís a Dog's Day by Marilyn Singer
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein
Falling Down the Page by Georgia Heard
Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George
Forgive Me, I Went to Do It by Gail Carson Levine
Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich by Adam Rex
Good Books, Good Times! By Lee Bennett Hopkins
Good Rhymes, Good Times by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Good Sports by Jack Prelutsky
Guyku by BobRaczka
Happy Birthday! by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Here's a Little Poem by Jane Yolen
Hey World, Here I Am by Jean Little
Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni
Laugh-eteria by Douglas Florian
Loose Leashes by Amy Schmidt
Lunch Money by Carol Diggory Shields
Mathematickles! By Betsy Franco
More Pocket Poems by Bobbi Katz
My Dog May Be a Genius by Jack Prelutsky
On the Farm by David Elliott
Outside Your Window by Nicola Davies
Red Sings From the Treetops by Joyce Sidman
Scarum Fair by Jessica Swaim
School Supplies by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky
Splish Splash by Joan Bransfield Graham
Spot the Plot by J. Patrick Lewis
Step Gently Out by Helen Frost
Take Two! A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen
Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park
This is Just to Say by Joyce Sidman
Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka
A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk by Deborah Ruddell
The Wonder Book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
A World of Wonders by J. Patrick Lewis
A Writing Kind of Day by Ralph Fletcher
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Scary Stories by Mary Ann Hoberman


  1. What a fantastic idea, Franki! Fun to reinforce to kids that their opinion matters in poetry as much as with other books. I can't wait to hear how this plays out throughout the month.

  2. So excited to follow the madness-I did the madness with our vocabulary words for 2 weeks and the students loved it!

  3. This sounds like so much fun and so worth the time and energy for you AND the students! Have a great month!

  4. Anonymous7:17 AM

    What a wonderful list of books! I also did the madness with vocabulary words...funny...Buckeyes won on our list...threw that one in for fun among all of the other words we selected from our reading for the Sweet 16. Too bad it did not really happen :(

  5. Amazing Idea! I'm new to the school library and I love it and love new ideas. I will definately use this one!


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