Poetry is the Language of the Soul:: Celebrate National Poetry Month

National Poetry MonthAs a life long, self-professed bibliophile, my first love was poetry and to this day, it is poetry that truly speaks to my soul. Over the years I have tried my hand at writing poems but, it’s not my thing. Obviously, only the coolest of the cool can express themselves in rhyme and verse and poetry is the essence of cool {{fingersnaps}}. The cleverness of a haiku, the wit of a limerick, the romance of a sonnet are all absolutely enthralling and I’ve never understood how so few words could be so captivating.

You should have seen my eight-year-old-self when I realized that the lyrics to a song are really just a poem set to music. Mind. Blown. I believe it was also around that time that I first fell in love with the writings of poet Shel Silverstein. His book, The Giving Tree, remains one of my favorites, albeit with a slightly different perspective now that I’m a mother and a grandmother. Since then I have discovered and rediscovered many great poets like Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks and Audre Lorde. There are also powerful and talented newcomers that I like to read like Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Poet X and With the Fire on High; and National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, author of The Hill We Climb andChange Sings.

Time to Celebrate

April is National Poetry Month, dedicated to celebrating the words, rhymes and rhythms of our favorite poets. Maybe we might be inspired to write our own poems and start a poetry journal. Or, host a family poetry slam and include mom, dad, kids, grandparents…everyone! If possible, you can even do it over Zoom, so long distance friends and relatives can join in on the fun! 

I am so excited to share with you three of my favorite collections of poetry, for both children and adults, to introduce to your family.  

Poems in the Attic

Poems in the Attic, by Nikki Grimes; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, is the heartwarming story – told through different forms of poetry –  of a young girl who discovers her mother’s poems in the attic of her grandmother’s home. As she reads, she realizes that her mother’s life as a military brat was often fascinating and adventurous, as well as, sometimes complicated. Mostly, she discovers that her mother was once a young girl like her and that they share a love of poetry. 

It’s Raining Laughter

It’s Raining Laughter, by Nikki Grimes; photographs by Myles C. Pinkney is a collection of often funny and light poems celebrating the every day occurrences of childhood.  Touching on topics of friendship, running, trips to the library and a case of the jitters, the author makes the mundane delightful.  

Jump Back Honey

Jump Back Honey, The Poems of Paul Laurence DunbarIllustrated by Ashley Bryan, Carol Byard, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Brian Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney and Faith Ringgold. This book is a treasure and so is Paul Laurence Dunbar. Born to freed slaves, Dunbar began writing as a child and became an internationally acclaimed poet and author. Having written more than a dozen books and a collection of poetry, he often used his voice as an activist for Black people during the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. This book, which includes When Malindy Sings and Little Brown Baby, is absolutely divine! Poems full of so much life that they practically leap from the pages…AND THE ILLUSTRATIONS! Six accomplished African American artists contributed their talent to visually embody Dunbar’s words. It is a feast for the eyes as well as the heart.  

Any one of these books {{heck, why not all three}} would be a lovely addition to your family library and a perfect way to Celebrate National Poetry month.  For more information about ideas and activities to celebrate your love for poetry, please visit www.poets.org


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