This week’s Mentor Monday is about poetry picture books for kids, the same as last week’s subject. I realize I’m two days late here; it has been a crazy week in terms of getting any free time.

Nevertheless, it’s almost good we waited, because I get to write about what we did this morning: learning with Joyful Noise.

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We both listened to and read at Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleishman. I love this volume, and I have fond memories of reading it in fourth grade. I believe that was the year it won the Newbery Medal, and I feel it was well deserving of that. Joyful Noise is a collection of poems about insects of the world. The poems sound like the insects. It is a masterful creation.


I liked working with Joyful Noise for poetry month for a few reasons. First of all, the poems in Joyful Noise are meant to be read aloud. One can’t get the full feeling of the complexity of the insects’ dialogue without two voices. Second, because of the two voices, it’s almost impossible not to read it aloud, to split into my side-your side. It almost makes poetry irresistible!


I love the poems for themselves too. The poems, as you read them with two voices, sound like the animals they are meant to represent. (The audio production was very well done!) “Grasshoppers” feels like grasshoppers hopping; “Fireflies” captures the flash of light with every echo of the word; and “Whirligig Beetles” manages to spin around in circles. I believe hearing the sound of words together is an essential part of learning about poetry. It’s not just about the rhyme at the end. It’s not just “assonance” and “onomatopoeia.” Reading poetry is about words together, and Joyful Noise helps teach that. (Raisin wants us to get the book for I Am a Phoenix now as well, as that is included on the audio CD.)

For the younger crowd, I simply love enjoying poetry in general by reading favorite picture books. So many of them have poetry that it is second nature. I remember my then-four year old son going through a rhyming phase, where everything he said needed to rhyme. I know all the books we have that rhyme have contributed to that. But I also love the picture books that don’t rhyme. There is much to learn about rhythm and poetic language in picture books besides the trite books we may at first consider! Poetry abounds in picture books.

For your information, and if you are interested, I have finished my BUNDLE of picture book poetry lessons. It’s on sale this first week only for a significant discount. I’m also running a giveaway on TeachersNotebook.com (where I’m also having a sale!). Finally, if you’d prefer, you could get it at TeachersPayTeachers.com as well.

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