Thursday, March 26, 2020

2020 Post #12 -- In This Together

by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

Teachers and administrators are doing heroic things on a daily basis to help families in their learning communities. Families are stepping up to comfort and educate children. But kids are still feeling a jumbled mix of emotions—joy over being able to sleep late, boredom due to social distancing, and anxiety over the uncertainties of the COVID-19 situation.

How can poetry provide relief?

By filling us with empathy.

By reminding us that there are helpers everywhere, people who can offer support.

By pointing to the good things, no matter how small.

By making us laugh.

And by doing all of the above, in most cases, in just a minute.

This is a perfect time to catch up on reading. But reading, in the traditional sense of placing eyes on words, can be very difficult right now. It’s just so hard to focus. Listening is slightly easier; this is one reason that many authors are offering read-alouds via social media. Author Kate Messner has gathered many author, illustrator, and poet read-alouds here. Also check out the resources of #OperationReadAloud on Facebook. And Audible is offering access to free audiobooks while schools are closed.

But fifteen minutes of quiet concentration, even if it’s passive listening, can still be hard. So here are some poems that take only 30 seconds each (on average), offered both as written text and also in video format. Some of the video offerings are “poem movies” featuring a montage of images; others are simply video readings. 

Step 1: listen to a few poems.
Step 2: if you like what you hear, read the text.
Step 3: if you really like the poem, use it as a writing prompt; put your own ideas down on paper.

Give it a try. If one of these poems brings you some hope, please spread the word. We are #inthistogether.

“Blue Bucket” by Naomi Shihab Nye (from HERE WE GO: A Poetry Friday Power Book by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong)

Poem Movie

Poem Text

“Look for the Helpers” by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

Poem Movie

Video Reading (along with two other poems: “Bear” by Janet Wong and “Look for Birds” by Janet Wong)

Poem Text

Further Reading:

Sylvia Vardell is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at Texas Woman’s University; her current work focuses on poetry for children, including the nationally recognized blog, PoetryforChildren http://poetryforchildren.blogspot.comJanet Wong is the author of more than thirty books for children and teens on a wide variety of subjects, including identity (A Suitcase of Seaweed & MORE). Together, Vardell and Wong are the forces behind the Poetry Friday books published by Pomelo Books.

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