Monday, May 4, 2015


Spring is springing everywhere and it's easy to imagine dancing through a field of flowers and spinning around, full of song on top of a mountain like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

One of my favorite interviews I did for a magazine was with country singer and multiple-award-winnning songwriter Dierks Bentley. We spoke about the best picture books having a musicality flowing through the rhythm of the words, echoing the same craft used in writing great songs.

National Poetry Month has just ended, but poetry is a part of our daily lives. We're attuned and attracted to patterns and rhythms in words we hear in songs and those we read, too. You can keep a "poem in your pocket" or "sing, sing a song" every day, at any time. I think of this as mind music and it's what gives songs that hook that makes you want to sing along and what gives great picture books that readability that makes you want to read them again and again.

I used rhythm and a song-style phrasing in sections of my nature picture books. In This Tree Counts!, the character Eli says, "Tree house, tree house in the sky, grow some wings and I can fly!" That line rhymes, but you can use sounds to create a rhythm without rhyming, too. In These Rocks Count!, a characters says, "Hot or cold, wind, snow, and rain—rocks get old, cycle of change."

Mind Music Writing Prompts
These phrases from some golden oldies can prompt students to write their own short chorus and create a refrain that can be shared aloud. Choose prompts from poems or songs which have a natural rhythm like these to help students spring, spring, sing on their own. 

I did it my way.

Don't step on my blue suede shoes.

The Camptown ladies sing this song.

Take me out to the ballgame.

What a day for a daydream. 

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