The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School is here! And just in time for April and Poetry Month. This lively compendium of poetry expertly selected by Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell has poems by 71 poets including Jane Yolen, Lee Wardlaw, Joyce Sidman, Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, Jack Prelutsky, and Nikki Grimes. I am honored to be included among such esteemed poets, along with fellow Pencil Tips blogger, Mary Quattlebaum.
Like the K-5 edition of The Poetry Friday Anthology, the middle school edition has a poem and quick lesson for every week of the school year. Also included are tips for sharing poetry in the classroom, quotes about poetry, and the Common Core Standards for grades, 6, 7, and 8. Having all this information in one book is a great timesaver for busy teachers. And there are so many poems inside which could serve as models to inspire student writing.
In “Advice to Rapunzel,” Eileen Spinelli warns this fairy tale princess to “Be cautious and wise/when you let down your hair.” After reading this poem aloud, you could challenge your students to write their own poem to a fairy tale character. Julie Larios’ poem “The Perfect Day” or Irene Latham’s “Biking Along White Rim Road” could jumpstart student poems about a special day outdoors with a friend. And there is a menagerie of wonderful pet poems to serve as inspiration for students to write about their own beloved animals.
Many of the poems in this book are breath-taking —excellent demonstrations of the quote on the back cover by Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Poetry teaches us the power of a few words.” Teachers might find themselves putting this anthology by their bedside for pleasure reading.
Equally impressive are the “Take 5 Activities” accompanying each poem. They include tips for introducing the poem’s subject matter, reading it aloud, and pairing it with other related poems. Particularly helpful is Tip #4 which highlights a specific poetic device used in the poem. These tips also point out the structure of individual poems and how the poet used line breaks to convey meaning. Teachers looking for quick examples of alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphor, or personification only need flip through a few pages before finding exactly what they need.
As the introduction to Poetry Friday for Middle School eloquently states, poetry is a wonderful vehicle for introducing vocabulary, figurative language, sensory details, and imagery. It stimulates the imagination and expresses strong emotion. What’s more, poems can be revisited, providing the reader with new insights and emotional connections. All of these add up to compelling reasons why every teacher should consider adding a weekly Poetry Break to his or her curriculum. Check out The Poetry Friday Anthologies to find out exactly how.