On my reading blog, I’m about to begin a poetry reading month. So I thought for my Six Traits Sunday about voice, I’d focus on a picture book about a poet, William Carlos Williams. 201307 River of words voice

As an imagist poet, William Carlos Williams focused on creating images with his words by using sharp, clear words and phrases. In Jen Bryant’s picture book about the poet, she likewise writes with sharp, clear words. Her biography is full of voice similar to the poet’s. Take this page, for example:

The water went slipping and sliding over
the smooth rocks, then poured in a torrent
over the falls, then quieted again below.

It reads like the poetry Williams himself wrote!

Further, the illustrations by Melissa Sweet are collages that bring many pieces together in to a coherent illustration of the poet’s life. Words flow amid the illustrations, some of which are handwritten and others appear to be clippings from magazines and papers. I believe the A River of Words is a strong example of voice in children’s picture books.

How have you used this book in your classes?

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