Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996, National Poetry Month celebrates poetry and its vital place in American culture every April. But every month is a great time to carry out the goals of National Poetry Month, which include highlighting the legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets, introducing more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry, bringing poets and poetry to the public, and making poetry a more important part of the school curriculum. Here are some ways to feature poetry in your library year round.
- Put links to interactive poetry websites on the computers in your children’s area and encourage kids to use them. Here are some examples: http://teacher.scholastic.com/poetry/index.htm, http://www.surfnetkids.com/games/funnypoems-wm.htm, http://www.kristinegeorge.com/kids_tips_01.html, http://ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/newpoem.htm.
- Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30! The idea is simple: select a poem you love and carry it with you to share with patrons, co-workers, family, and friends. Go to http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/406 for lots more ideas on how to celebrate, as well as suitable poems, and even poems about pockets!
- Start a Poetry Basket. Seed a basket with favorite poems from the library staff (or original ones!). Place a sign on the basket that says, “Take a poem, Leave a poem.” Leave it in an accessible area (teen space, circ desk, program room, etc), and see what happens! Or, start a Poetry Billboard, again having the staff post a few poems and including an invitation to post a favorite poem or original poetry. A similar idea (courtesy of Jackie M. from the O’Keeffe Musem): create a PoeTree, a handmade tree with branches to hang poems on.
- Host a Poetry Slam. These are popular events with tweens and teens! Go to http://www.riverdeep.net/current/2001/01/012901_m1_slam.jhtml and http://www.education-world.com/a_curr/voice/voice069.shtml for an intro on slams.
- Put a new poem every week or month on your library’s website, blog, or teen web area. Also, post a new poem every day for the month around the library.
- Create displays of poetry books in the library. Create lists of poetry books in your library by topic and/or age group.
- Invite local poets to your library for readings and/or poetry workshops.
- Host an open-mic poetry night for teens.
- Gather poems your young patrons have written into anthologies by age group. Have the kids and teens illustrate the poems and then bind each book in a simple way to display in the library.
- Post the poems your young patrons write on the library’s website, blog, or teen web area. Take it one step further and have the poets record readings of their poems and turn them into podcasts!
- Cover a large table with paper and have your young patrons write poems on it. Display the finished product in the library.
- Buy or make magnetic poetry displays around a theme to place in the teen area. Better yet, have your TAG make the displays!
- Offer a craft program that involves writing and illustrating poetry. Some fun ideas for pre-K through 8 can be found at http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=11671.
Poetry resources for more info and lots of program ideas:
Scholastic’s April is National Poetry Month has tons of programming ideas, lists of award winning children’s poetry, poet biographies, lesson plans, and much more,
- Sign up to receive a poem a day via email or mobile device, read poems and poet biographies, get ideas for programs, and more at Poets.org, http://www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/102
- Education World’s April is Poetry Month has lesson plans, activities, and articles, http://www.education-world.com/a_special/poetrymonth.shtml
- Poetry Teachers offers lesson plans, tips for teaching kids to write poetry, poetry plays for kids to perform, and lots of funny poems, http://www.poetryteachers.com/
- A professor offers up lots of resources about finding and sharing poetry with kids in this blog, http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.com/2008/03/preparing-for-national-poetry-month.html
- Poetry aloud here!: sharing poetry with children in the library by Sylvia M. Vardell, ALA, 2006. (available from the State Library through Interlibrary Loan!)
- New Mexico CultureNet’s Poetry New Mexico section highlights works by the state’s poets (including teens), lesson plans, and more,