Wednesday, June 30, 2021


image via Unsplash

You will no longer be receiving email notifications for this blog because Blogger email subscriptions were handled by FeedBurner, which is going away TOMORROW.

Never fear, we've got a plan! Since we are both in "reinventing our identities" mode, we decided to start A(nother) Year of Reading over at WordPress. 

Our new site/blog is live, and we welcome you to subscribe there and come along with us on this new phase of the journey. Just be forewarned, we've been Google/Blogger users for DECADES, so things will be a little clunky at the new site while we get accustomed to WordPress. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Slice of Life: #TeachersWrite

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for saving me a spot
in this amazing community of writers. It's been awhile...

Thank you also to Kate Messner for the annual #TeachersWrite...event? ...challenge? ...encouragement.

The topic for this first week is Reflect. 
"...think about a time when you were growing up and you felt peaceful and whole."
It's wiltingly hot today in Ohio. Hot like nothing I experienced growing up in arid Eastern Colorado. As a teen, I sat in the glaring heat on a lifeguard stand above a blue-as-the-sky swimming pool. For 45 minutes at a time, I scanned swimmers, counted heads, and shouted the occasional, "DON'T RUN!" I was in a zone. It was some kind of chlorine- and Coppertone-scented Zen. It was my identity. I knew exactly who I was and how to do the work (if you can call it that).

In today's muggy haze, I entered a different kind of Zen in the garden. It was a dirt- and green-scented Zen as I dug the invasive spiderwort out of the spot between the Japanese iris (long done blooming) and the day lilies (just putting up buds). Luckily, I was mostly in the shade, and also luckily, the mosquitoes weren't attacking. Gardening is one part of my grownup identity, and I'm as glad for the air conditioning and the shower as I was back then for a quick dip in the pool during rest period.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Poetry Friday -- Zentangle Poetry

 Three tries, three very different poems.

life was art
no order
perplexing harmonies

I was left feeling dizzy

the thing was
I had imagined something
and bumpy

the poetry is timeless
who questions this?
no one

How much is "enough time?"

We hope for enough time, knowing there is never enough time.
Except, maybe, in poems -- in writing them and reading them, 
far inside them where we lose account of minutes. 
Except, maybe, in photographs, 
where time sleeps but doesn't close its eyes.

Back in 2012, I subscribed for a year to the Poetry Foundation's poetry journal. I never read more than a poem or two here or there, but I also couldn't find it in me to send them to recycling. Now I've found the perfect use for them. I'm using Poetry to make poetry and art!

Thank you, Poetry Sisters, for this week's challenge. It was fun! 

And thanks to all who signed up to host Poetry Friday July-December. The schedule is filled!

Linda has today's Poetry Friday Roundup at A Word Edgewise. It's her annual "clunker" exchange!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Poetry Friday -- Juneteenth

Now That Juneteenth is a National Holiday

We pause
in honor of Liberty, Hope,
and Resiliency.

We pause
with clear-eyed acknowledgement of slavery's role
in building the economic foundation of our country

We pause
to consider a better way forward
for our not always glorious national history

We must not
co-opt this celebration with white commercialism

We must not
let this celebration undermine the right to protest

We must not
allow this celebration to eliminate the ongoing work of justice

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 (draft)

As I read through different versions of the news of President Biden's declaration of Juneteenth as a national holiday, I jotted words and phrases that became this poem. This is Juneteenth through the lens of a white American who was ignorant about Juneteenth until embarrassingly recently because of gaps in my formal and informal education. I am excited to share the joy of Juneteenth, but I understand that in many ways, the deep significance of Juneteenth is not mine to claim. 

For words that weren't mine to write about liberty, hope, resiliency, and our not always glorious national history, read (or better yet, listen to) "When Fannie Lou Hamer Said" by Mahogany L. Brown.

And here are some children's authors, illustrators, and creators telling what Juneteenth means to them.

Buffy has a delight-full nature poem and this week's Poetry Friday at her blog Buffy Silverman.

And there are just six five more slots left on the Poetry Friday roundup schedule. Claim one here!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021



Birds: Explore their Extraordinary World
by Miranda Krestovnikoff 
illustrated by Angela Harding
Bloomsbury, 2020
review copy provided by the publisher (thanks!)

This is a gorgeous oversized nonfiction picture book. Illustrated with fine art linocuts, the information is grouped by types of birds, by notable characteristics (feathers, beaks and eyes), then by nests, migration, songs, and extremes (cold and urban living). Within each category there are big subcategories, and then each subcategory has short example sections. For example, in the category SEABIRDS are the two subcategories Seabirds of warmer waters and Seabirds of colder waters. In Seabirds of colder waters the reader learns about Gulls, Great black-backed gulls, Kittiwakes, and Gannets. This is a great book for browsing. You'll definitely be drawn in by the illustrations and then you'll find yourself perusing the bite-sized text chunks. The only thing that would make it better would be an index.

Is it cheating to pair an entire book of poems? Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds, edited by Billy Collins and illustrated by David Allen Sibley is the most obvious pairing. Lots of fun poems plus gorgeous illustrations. 

If it's cheating to pair a whole book, I'll choose the poem Bird-Understander by Craig Arnold. This poem about someone who notices a bird trapped in the terminal of the airport; someone who notices the wrong in the world and who is desperate to help, to right the wrong. Birding requires close observation. There's much to learn about the natural history of birds if you bother to look closely, but just like in life, the closer you look, the more you are likely to see all kinds of problems that need work.

One of the problems connected to birding is racism. If you want to dig in more deeply, here is the story of Christian Cooper and a link to the (free) comic he wrote about what happened to him in Central Park when he was birding last spring.

A video to share with students features Corina Newsome, who broke stereotypes associated with becoming an environmentalist. She is a woman of color who grew up in an urban environment but became a zookeeper who has worked with turkey vultures as an Ambassador Animal Keeper at the Nashville Zoo.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. 
Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!  

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading new books. I always use this time to think about which new books might be must-haves for the classroom. This week I'm sharing some new middle grade novels that might make good read alouds, great choices for book clubs and great additions to classroom libraries. These are some of my favorite new middle grade must-reads!

Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Quintessence by Jess Redman
When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller
The Sea in Winter by Christine Day
What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado
Efrén Divided by Ernessto Cisneros
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

This week's books were linked at Cover to Cover Children's Bookstore. If you are looking for a fabulous independent children's bookstore to support, this is an amazing one. We are lucky to have them in Central Ohio!

Happy Reading!

Follow @TextSets on Instagram for weekly Text Sets!
(@TextSets will be on vacation for the rest of June. Be back after the July 4 holiday!)

Friday, June 11, 2021

Poetry Friday -- an unexpected #PoemPair

Learning Arabic

is more than just driving on the left in England.
It's driving on the left
with no cognates on the map,
an alphabet consisting of small bits of flowering vine,
and luckily a lay-by
where you abandon the car and the map
taking a path instead
walking like a botanist, field guide in hand,
poring over every blossom, every curving leaf,
breathless when you begin to find meaning
in this brand new ancient world.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021

Yes, I'm learning Arabic with the DuoLingo app. Why? Because it's beautiful, it's hard, and my friend speaks it. 

I didn't think this would be a #PoemPairs post, but then I listened to today's episode of Poetry Unbound featuring "A special bilingual poem in Anishinaabemowin and English by Margaret Noodin, a linguist who writes primarily in Anishinaabemowin" and then the followup conversation between her and "Pádraig Ó Tuama, about the story behind that poem as well as the Anishinaabemowin language, translation, and the importance of language preservation." I was especially fascinated by the connections the two made between language and place, and between the Ojibwe and Irish languages.

So now, when I'm asked why I'm learning Arabic, I will add to my answer this new thinking from Margaret Noodin and Pádraig Ó Tuama: that language includes a connection to the land and to the soul of a place and its native speakers, and by learning this language, I will help to celebrate language diversity.

Carol has this week's Poet Friday roundup at Carol's Corner.

Poetry Friday -- Call for Roundup Hosts

It's that time again. Six months have passed since last we queued up to host the Poetry Friday roundups.

If you'd like to host a roundup between July and December 2021, leave your choice(s) of date(s) in the comments. I'll update regularly to make it easier to see which dates have been claimed.

What is the Poetry Friday roundup? A gathering of links to posts featuring original or shared poems, or reviews of poetry books. A carnival of poetry posts. Here is an explanation that Rene LaTulippe shared on her blog, No Water River, and here is an article Susan Thomsen wrote for the Poetry Foundation.

Who can do the Poetry Friday roundup? Anyone who is willing to gather the links in some way, shape, or form (Mr. Linky, "old school" in the comments-->annotated in the post, or ???) on the Friday of your choice. If you are new to the Poetry Friday community, jump right in, but perhaps choose a date later on so that we can spend some time getting to know each other.

How do you do a Poetry Friday roundup? If you're not sure, stick around for a couple of weeks and watch...and learn! One thing we're finding out is that folks who schedule their posts, or who live in a different time zone than you, appreciate it when the roundup post goes live sometime on Thursday.

How do I get the code for the PF Roundup Schedule for the sidebar of my blog? You can grab the list from the sidebar here at A Year of Reading, or I'd be happy to send it to you if you leave me your email address. 

Why would I do a Poetry Friday Roundup? Community, community, community. It's like hosting a poetry party on your blog!

And now for the where and when:

2    Laura at Laura Shovan
9    Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
16  Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone
23  Kat at Kathryn Apel
30  Becky at Sloth Reads

6   Mary Lee at A(nother) Year of Reading
27 Elisabeth at Unexpected Intersections

3   Heidi at my juicy little universe
17 Denise at Dare to Care
24 Laura at Laura Purdie Salas

1   Catherine at Reading to the Core
8   Irene at Live Your Poem
29 Linda at TeacherDance


3   Michelle at Michelle Kogan
10 Cathy at Merely Day by Day
24 Buffy at Buffy Silverman
31 Carol at Carol's Corner

Wednesday, June 09, 2021



by Raakhee Mirchandani
illustrated by Holly Hatam
Little, Brown and Company, 2021
review copy provided by the publisher (thanks!)


From the author's note:
"This story is a window into my family and our tradition, one that started over five hundred years ago in Punjab and that we are proud to maintain and make our own here in America."
This is also a story about love -- the love of a father and daughter that centers around hair and culture, ancient traditions and insider jokes ("hair cheers" and "hip cheers"). For readers looking in through the window of this story, there is information (coconut oil smoothed in for untangling) and vocabulary (papa's joora/bun, patka/bun covering, and turban). Woven throughout the story is joy, shared at the end with friends in the park.


Pádraig Ó Tuama unpacked the poem "Coconut Oil" by Roshni Goyate on Poetry Unbound last week, and while it's not for children, the poem and his commentary are a perfect pairing for adult readers, especially those with "mainstream" (read white person) hair who will share Hair Twins with children and who need to continue to learn and understand how hair can be the source of racism and microaggressions.

For those who want to dig in deeper into the colonialism of beauty, check out this Code Switch podcast, or this PBS Newshour piece on "How hair discrimination impacts Black Americans in their personal lives and the workplace."


Thursday, June 03, 2021

Poetry Friday -- Ways to Reappear

image via Unsplash

Ways to Reappear

In the dawn
Down a path
Through tall pines
Come to
With a grin
In a flash
Down to earth
In a spotlight
In a shadow
Without a plan
Without speaking
On your porch
On your threshold
In the garden
In the pool
In a library
In the corner
In the background
Come out
On a limb
At a moment's notice
In envelopes
In secret
Without words
Without a doubt
Seeking identity
Through dense fog
Down this path
In the dawn

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2021 
after Ways to Disappear by Camille Rankine

"Ways to Disappear" was the Poem a Day from on Wednesday, June 2. Camille Rankine writes about her poem: “There are so many ways a person can become not a person in someone else’s eyes. They can be erased through violence of gaze or word or action, by the individual, by the media, by the state, so that their humanity dissolves into nothing in the other’s view, and they vanish. In plain sight, and not there at all.”

Big truth in these times, in this country.

I began to think of possible ways for a person to reappear. If we can erase a person, surely we can also work against that erasure, really see those around us, and make sure they know they've been seen.

The poem is also about losing one identity and reappearing with a new identity. 

Process notes: I found the photo on Unsplash after I wrote the poem. It was a little eerie how well the image matched my words. 

I borrowed the first word in every line from Rankine's poem. Lots of times I used the first two words. To give the poem a more optimistic feel, I changed "gone" to "come." The lines are specific and personal but at the same time broad and general. As in Rankine's poem, the lines sometimes seem connected, but mostly can stand alone. The word "seeking" stood out to me as a turning point, and from there I diverged from Rankine's poem, reversing the pattern of the first three lines, and ending where the poem started.

Margaret has this week's Poetry Friday roundup at Reflections on the Teche. Watch for the signup for July-December roundups next week! Yikes!