A bilingual celebration of family, Family Poems for Every Day of the Week (Poemas Familiaries para cada día de la semana) is a collection of poems that reflect the multicultural life experiences of many Latino children today. The poems were written by Francisco X. Alarcón and are based on his childhood experiences and his family. Maya Christina Gonzalez beautifully illustrates these poems with vibrant colors and swirling patterns that immediately captivate the reader.
There are multiple poems for each day of the week that describe the feelings and events of that particular day. From a sleepy and grumpy Monday, to a trip to el mercado (the market) on Wednesday, followed by a day of non-stop play on Saturday… the week is always full. Each day is linked to a planet as a nod to the historical roots and rich worldwide heritage of the concept of the week while also highlighting the similarities between Spanish and English.
This collection of poems describes each day of the week as a member of a family (much like that of the author), where every one is a unique individual but fits together perfectly to create one amazing whole.
This book was published posthumously as Alarcón passed away in 2016. However, the legacy he left behind as a celebrated poet whose words have impacted the lives of many children will continue to live on through his many works. Maya Christina Gonzalez used the illustration of this story as a way to honor Alarcón and all of the work they had created together.
Inspired by Mexico’s indigenous crafts, the patterns and images of this book were designed to bring history into the present and enhance the way we see the world. The circle imagery throughout the book is Gonzalez’s way of celebrating and continuing the life of Alarcón by pulling his work back into his family. The themes of timelessness and the cyclical nature of the world drive this story and allow it to share a special message with the reader: each day will come and each day will go, but regardless of what happens every day is to be celebrated, appreciated, and loved.
Out of Wonder is by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Majory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmwa. This book celebrates and honors 20 poets by “adopting their style, extending their idea, and offering gratitude to their wisdom and inspiration”. The famous poets include Robert frost, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, and Emily Dickinson. It encourages poetry by highlighting its exploration of creativity and the freedom that comes with writing.
The poems are separated by three parts: 1. Got Style?, In Your Shoes, and Thank You. Got Style? celebrates the unique styles and rhythms allowed in poetry such as Nikki Giovanni using lowercase letters at the beginning of sentences. It also pays tribute to Langston Hughes with a poem that describes his parents’ musical talents helping them paying the rent.
The In Your Shoes section is about incorporating the feelings and common themes of the poets. The poem celebrating Emily Dickinson is about roses (a common theme of her poetry was flowers).
The last part, Thank You, emphasizes how these poets have positively impacted people with their words. One poem includes positive words of encouragement gained from Maya Angelou such as “Be brave” and “Know your beauty”.
The book includes biographies of all the poets at the end. The illustrations were done in collage on paper and are vibrant, colorful and vary in beautiful styles. Some feature people and various scenes, and others expand on the objects discussed in the poem. This book would be great to inform children about poetry. It exposes to them various styles and poets from different centuries with positive, inspiring messages.
This 2017 book is a poem by English poet John Keats and is illustrated by Chris Raschka. Keats wrote this poem in a letter to his young sister while he was away on a visit to Scotland. It tells of a young, carefree boy that packs up his belongings and goes on an adventure from England to Scotland.
The poem has lighthearted rhymes and is illustrated by bright, colorful watercolors. The mischievous character goes and enjoys his favorite things, like writing poetry and fishing with his hands. After his adventurous experience, the young boy realizes that even in a different location, many things are the same. The poem says,
“Was as red- that lead
Was as weighty,
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England-”
I liked the playfulness of the poem and think it would be a enjoyable book to read to a group of children. It would also be useful for getting children interested in poetry.
When I first pulled A Book of Reverso Poems: Mirror Mirror off the shelf, the cover captivated me. Author Marilyn Singer and illustrator Josée Masse were able to master the ability of combining multiple perspectives into poetry and art.
A Book of Reverso Poems: Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josée Masse
Poetry is a tricky thing to write for young children and I think Singer did a wonderful job in making it accessible and interesting. Singer used fairy tales and princesses as the characters of each poem. I think this was smart because they are stories that children already know and have background knowledge for, but they now have put it into poetry. Poetry can be difficult for students to understand, so this helps aid them in the reading and comprehension.
When you read a reverso poem down, it is one poem like normal. Then when you read it up, slight changes in punctuation and capitalization allow it to become a different poem. This style was tremendous and brought a whole new dimension to poetry. The structure provided the perfect form for telling two sides of one story. It becomes like solving a puzzle, both provoking and fun.
The dual nature of these poems also demonstrates how there are always multiple perspectives in a story. This would lead to a great discussion with students about point of view or about learning to understand individuals who have different views or opinions.
In children’s literature, I believe pictures are essential in aiding children as they are exposed to print and as they learn to read. Josée Masse’s illustrations, just like the poems, were split in half to reveal the double nature of the poems. This really helped emphasize the nature of the book/poems that they can go two ways and they were interesting to see and continually search for new clues within each poem and image. Every page kept me searching for new details as I tried to follow the story line that was being represented. Additionally, Masse’s use of color and shadow really helped emphasize the dual nature and emotions of each story.
This book would be great for a poetry unit and it could easily be modified for all different age ranges. Having students write reversos, their own “puzzles,” would be a great partner or small group activity. I loved that this book wasn’t your typical picture or poetry book, keeping things exciting and unique. I’m interested and eager to explore Singer’s other Reverso Poem books!
Lee Bennett Hopkins has selected 50 wonderful poems for My America Poetry Atlas of the United States. The poems are grouped by geographic regions within the United States and portray a beautiful and original representation of our country. Many of the poems have a special ability to take the reader back in time to imagine how life was lived many years ago. The other poems portray present-day depictions of the United States. The hopes and dreams of our nations citizens are expressed in each and every poem.
This book can be incorporated into many education settings. For example, it can be particularly useful to introduce certain geographic regions during a Social Studies lesson while also studying poetry. There are many descriptive words throughout the book and each poem offers its own, unique feeling and mood.
The illustrations are majestic and calming. They depict the United States in a very peaceful and beautiful way. As a special bonus, each region has its own map and fascinating facts for each state. This is a book that every classroom should have and that every traveler will enjoy!
– Mary Frances Griffith