by Brett Vogelsinger
Former Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Filipe Herrera, shares his memoir in the poem-as-a-picture-book entitled "Imagine."
The book is beautifully written and illustrated, weaving some Spanish words into the English poem as it follows Herrara's trajectory as a child of migrant workers to his first experiences learning English to his post as Poet Laureate. It concludes with the words "Imagine what you could do."
I tell my ninth-grade students that for today's Poem of the Day we are going to have an elementary school library class experience, and I ask them to gather around. Some of them choose to sit on the floor just like they did for "carpet time" back in elementary school. Nostalgia for this kind of reading runs deep and strong.
I make sure every student gets to ponder each page, reading it slower than most poems, for the format breaks it up into illustrated pieces we want to savor.
The last line, "Imagine what you could do," has landscape illustration paired with it that hearkens back to Herrera's youth.
In their Writer's Notebooks, students might take that same line and illustrate it in a way that inspires them and relates to either their early life or to their future goals and what they would like to accomplish.
Brett Vogelsinger is a ninth-grade English teacher at Holicong Middle School in Bucks County, PA. He has been starting class with a poem each day for the past six years and is the creator of the Go Poems blog to share poetry reading and writing ideas with teachers around the world. Find him on Twitter @theVogelman.