We’ve made it to Day 14, and we’re excited to take a break from prose to explore the wonders of some #poetry books that are #smashingstereotypes!
Poetry is just as important as prose, and it is so essential to educate children on the merits of verse, and the creative majesty that poems can harness. So if you want to hear about our take on some poetry, read on!
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Written by: Dr. Maya Angelou
Illustrated by: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Edited by: Sara Jane Boyers
For Ages: 4 and up
The text element of Life Doesn’t Frighten Me is Maya Angelou’s eponymous poem, and when coupled with Basquiat’s exquisite paintings, the whole book really connects with the reader! The illustrations are fairly abstract, and they allow the reader to connect their own life experiences to the lines of the story. The line “life doesn’t frighten me” appears often, prompting students to repeat the phrase out-loud and almost use it as a mantra to build courage! Some lines reveal a more tangible fear, such as the experience of entering a new classroom, and some are more whimsical, including the fear of encountering a fire-breathing dragon outside the window. Overall, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me is an important story for young children to read, encouraging them to be brave and Corrie’s classroom of 4-5 year olds really connected with the story! It will make a fantastic addition to any collection!
Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown
Written by: Malathi Michelle Iyengar
Illustrated by: Jamel Akib
For ages: 4 years and up
These poems intertwine cultural tradition and significance with skin color and celebration. One boy’s grandmother soaks yucca leaves to make medicine for cuts, friends bake gingerbread together, and a wedding party dances together in a swirl of ocher. Focusing on these joyous moments and celebration of family history is so important to build self-esteem and normalize experiences of marginalized populations. Having poetry written specifically in admiration of different hues of skin increases the visibility of cultures often written out of history. We love these diverse poems, letting the reader peek into the lives of others all over the world!
Mary Had a Little Lab
Written by: Sue Fliess
Illustrated by: Petros Bouloubasis
For Ages: 3-5 years
This book is cleverly written in a rhyming scheme about a little girl scientist named Mary. She looks through her lab window and notices that other children have friends and pets, and Mary gets to thinking. She hatches a plan to engineer a machine that will make her friends, and it works! Mary has a friendly pet sheep, and all the other children in her classroom want them as well. When making duplicate sheep, the machine breaks. Suddenly, there are sheep everywhere! Mary’s classmates (and new friends!) help her fix the machine. Mary adds wheels to her lab to herd her new flock of sheep, and starts a new business venture with both her human and ovine pals!
Coconut Kind of Day: Island Poems
Written by: Lynn Joseph
Illustrated by: Sandra Speidel
For Ages: 4 years and up
In the author’s note at the end of Coconut Kind of Day, Joseph talks about her childhood growing up in Trinidad. She wrote the book’s poems to remember this experience, and share it with others! Poetry is a fun medium to introduce to young children, and the commemoration of a diverse childhood is a great topic for a book! The narrator is a young girl of color, a perspective that is so often forgotten or erased, and this book doesn’t go overboard, and simply celebrates the mundane moments that children find so special. We encourage you to check this book out and introduce it into your regular curriculum in a variety of subjects!
I Am Loved
Written by: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by: Ashley Bryan
For ages: All ages
This collection of poetry has been compiled to describe to a child how loved they are! The poems focus on topics like family, cats, birds, nature, and much more! With beautiful illustrations to accompany each poem, the reader and listener alike are held with care and respect, just like they deserve. The last page includes a mirror, so the audience can remember exactly just how special they are!
I Am Loved is a great early introduction to poetry! Anyone would be captivated and inspired by these phenomenal illustrations by legendary Ashley Bryan, and words created by the incomparable artist Nikki Giovanni. It’s a very quick read, and will make a great fit for an affirming before bed read-aloud!