Poetry Teatime

2016-04-11_008I pour steaming water over tea bags in our favorite mugs and tea cups. Earl Grey in a blue willow china tea cup for me. Sophia chooses the Tom Kitten tea cup and the boys pick out the mugs they painted in an abstract expression-like style a few years ago. The kids all select Constant Comment as their tea of choice. We've spent some time in the wind-blown spring air checking to see what new flowers have pushed their way through the soggy earth. The daffodils are beginning to die away but the tulips are just starting to unfurl. The boys played soccer and Sophia road through puddles on her bike. But now we've stomped back inside to warm up to tea, cookies, fruit, and poetry.

I was first introduced to the concept of Poetry Teatime by Julie Bogart on the Read Aloud Revival podcast. And now Julie and her team have rolled out a new website with resources to inspire families everywhere to start their own poetry reading traditions. I thought the idea was fabulous! Creating a language-rich environment with poetry and treats. And what kid will say no to treats?

Since then, we've been attempting to have poetry teatime about once a week. I'm stocking a few extra boxes of goodies, like Fig Newtons or Milano cookies in the pantry, and it's been a fun new tradition. Although these pictures look quiet and proper, poetry teatime is actually loud and messy. Kids interrupt and tea spills. The baby throws food on the floor and the dog gobbles up. But we're having fun and the kids are actually enjoying and asking for more! Owen even asked me, "So how do you write a poem, anyway?" It doesn't have to be particularly fussy. No need to always have tea either. Juice or lemonade works great too.

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Since beginning poetry teatime we've discovered some favorite poetry themed books we'd like to share with you. Some are collections of poetry. But I also like to include picture books about the lives of poets. Being someone who loves history and biography, it's wonderful to read the story about a poet's life and then go on to enjoy their work.

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Our Favorite Poetry Collections:

Julie Andrews’ Treasure for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play By Marilyn Singer This is such a fun-filled book with poems about Hopscotch and Hide-and-Seek and of course, sticks!

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry, Edited by J. Patrick Lewis Our current favorite, many classic poem juxtaposed next to National Geographic's wonderful photography.

A Brighter Garden by Emily Dickinson Illustrated by the late Tasha Tudor, this was one of the first book of poems I ever owned.

The Poetry for Young People series

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Picture Book Biographies about Poets:

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess e.e. cummings' poetry has always enamored me. I love how he paints pictures with not just language but the actual visual organization of words. I love this poem and this one too. But I didn't know anything about his life until I read this picture book. It contains his poetry too.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant Famous for "The Red Wheelbarrow" this book tells the life of doctor who is now best known for his poetry. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet, I love how she incorporated typography into the pictures.

Emily by Michael Bedard Emily Dickinson--mysterious and dressed in all white--has always captured my imagination. This book illustrated by Barbara Cooney sees her through a child's eyes.

Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Filey A heart-warming story about Emily Dickinson and her dog, Carlo.

Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People by Monica Brown This story of Chile's beloved poet shows how poetry can speak to activism and influence social change.

Papa is a Poet: A Story About Robert Frost by Natalie S. Bober Robert Frost's story is told from the point of view of his daughter.

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Do you enjoy poetry? Who is your favorite poet?