PF tag

This week’s host is my good friend Michelle H. Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty. Stop by for an over-sized pocket full of poetry links.

Happy Poetry Friday, everyone! I’m traveling to Albuquerque next week, where I’ll be visiting two schools — including a real Emerson Elementary.

That’s where I’ll be on April 21, which is national Poem in Your Pocket Day. Because I’ll be sharing the day with students, I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite ways to celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day.

(You can read more about national Poem in Your Pocket Day at


Check out the #My5thGradeAsHaiku prize pack, featuring a signed book and a Refried Beans hamster plushie.

But first — in case you missed it, I am running a poetry challenge to celebrate the launch of my first novel in verse for kids, THE LAST FIFTH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY. All are welcome to tweet a #My5thGradeAsHaiku poem, or leave one in the comments of this post. Full details of the contest are here.


Ready for five favorite Poem in Your Pocket Day activities?

poem in pocketONE: A Poem in Your Pocket Book Read Aloud

Margaret McNamara’s picture book, A Poem in Your Pocket, came out in 2015. It’s about a class of students preparing for a famous poet to visit. But it’s also about silencing our inner critics, letting poetry flow from what we see, experience, and feel. Make sure you have tissues handy. (I cry every time.)

BONUS: The end papers of this book include a great illustration of Poem in Your Pocket Activity #5.

TWO: Carry Poems in Your Pockets

poem in pocket 2Students can write their own poems to tuck into their pockets, or choose a poem they love. If you need ideas or ready made poems, try Poem in Your Pocket for Young Poets: 100 Poems to Rip Out & Read. This 2011 publication from Amulet is exactly what it sounds like. The tearable pages are small, a good size to fold and put in a pocket. It includes both well-known poems and surprises.

Bruno Navasky, who selected the poems here, says in his introduction: “Carry it with you. Keep it hidden, like a little bird, deep in your pocket. But be careful! Don’t forget it wants to get out. And maybe sometimes … you’ll let it fly.” Thursday is a perfect day to let that poem fly.

Our local community college celebrates Poem in Your Pocket Day with poetry police. The police will stop you and ask to see the poem you are carrying. Don’t have one with you? You get a ticket (which, I’m pretty sure, is a poem).

THREE: Revive an Old Book of Pocket Poems

The newest book of poems on my shelf isn’t new at all. Upside Down and Inside Out: Poems For All Your Pockets, by Bobbi Katz, was published in 1973. I’m discovering many surprises in this book. There’s a series of “Things to Do If You Are” poems (“Things to Do If You Are a Flower” is my favorite) that I’m going to add to my school writing prompt repertoire.

I’m amazed at how modern the poems in this book are. Imagine what your students might say when discussing Bobbi Katz’s “School, Some Suggestions”:

If kids could be the teachers,
if kids could make the rules,
there’d be a lot of changes made
in almost all the schools.
First thing they’d stop the homework.
They’d never give a test.
They know that growing children
must have their proper rest.
They’d make the lunchtime longer—
let’s say from twelve to two,
so every growing boy or girl
had time enough to chew!

Read the rest of the poem here.

Also check out the collection Pocket Poems, selected by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Marylin Hafner (Puffin, 2004).

FOUR: Share a Poem about Pockets

My favorite poem about pockets is Calef Brown’s poem, “Eliza’s Jacket.” It’s from his wonderful 1998 book Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks.

  1. IMG_20141117_110715420

    Eliza and her pockets (filled with student poems) were on display at one of my school residencies.

    Do not miss Daniel Pinkwater reading “Eliza’s Jacket” on YouTube.

    I created a poetry prompt based on this poem where I ask students to imagine that *anything* could be hidden in their pockets. You’ll find the full writing prompt and students responses at this post.

    FIVE: Make a Wall Full of Pockets for Your Original Poems

    If your students have caught the poetry bug, this is a fun way to display their poems. Kids and families love to pull out the poems and read them.

    2014 May June 035

    2014 May June 042

    2014 May June 058 2014 May June 049

13 responses to “Five Ways to Celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day”

  1. Thanks for letting me pocket some of these great ideas for Poem in Your Pocket Day, Laura! I especially love Bruno Navasky’s advice. Hope your trip to Albuquerque is fantastic. I’m actually a bit jealous since I used to live about an hour and a half south of there. I miss that big sky!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      I visited for the first time last year, Michelle, and fell in love with the slot canyons, mountains, and big sky. Can’t wait to go back!

  2. Margaret Simon says:

    I hope you will get to see our friend, Caroline Starr Rose. Give her a hug from me. Thanks for all these great ideas for Poem in your Pocket Day. I can’t believe it’s almost here. I better get my kids ready.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Yes, Margaret! I’ll be meeting Caroline for the first time at a librarians luncheon. Very excited — I love her novels in verse.

  3. Tabatha says:

    What poem will you have in your pocket, Laura? You seem to be burning the candle at both ends, friend! Hope you have a great trip :-)!

  4. Linda Baie says:

    I will miss being at a school for this day, Laura. It is so much fun sharing poems all around. Thanks for the extra resources. I have a book like a daily ‘tear-off’ calendar that has poems that can be given out. Have fun next week!

  5. jama says:

    Love these ideas, especially the pockets on the wall. 🙂 Have a good trip!

  6. Violet N. says:

    What fun pocket crafts for poem-in-your-pocket day. Congrats on the release of your book! I’m sure you’re enjoying the journey.

  7. Mary Lee Hahn says:

    Thanks for the ideas for a fun PIYP Day!

  8. Kat Apel says:

    Wow. Australia is missing out on some good stuff. I don’t think we ‘do’ PIYPD here – but I’m on class this week, so I’ll have plenty of kids to share my first PIYPD with. Must source some poems… Thanks for these fantabulous ideas!

  9. Linda says:

    Great ideas, Laura! I have the Poem in Your Pocket pb so I’ll be sharing that with my classes. I also love the bulletin board idea! My copy of your novel is due to arrive tomorrow! I’m hoping to read it some time this week. : )

  10. Hello dear traveling friend!

    Squee! My pocket runneth over with the arrival, finally, of THE LAST FITH GRADE OF EMERSON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. I love it. More on this wonderful group of kids, later.

    Glad you enjoyed a gre8t poem in your pocket day.
    out there in lovely N.M. with the real Emerson kids.

    An additonal title – “A SOCK IS A POCKET FOR YOUR TOES” for the gre8t list of pocket books here at this nourishing post. It’s an extended poem in picture book format from Liz Garton Scanlon & the artist is Robin Preiss Glasser.
    I read it in kindergarten where I volunteer, on April 21, along with the extended poem OSTRICH & LARK by Marilyn Nelson (a friendship p.b., illustrated by a group of San artists of the Kuru Art Project of Botswana). Also they enjoyed hearing select poems from Irene Latham’s tasty FRESH DELICIOUS. Plus a coupla rhymes I made up & stuffed in my apron pockets to pull out & share.

    Happy trails (back) to you!


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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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