Thursday, 29 August 2019

Kathryn Appel is hosting Poetry Friday this week! Visit Kat’s Whiskers for links to this weeks poetry news, reviews, tributes, and original poems.

Greetings, Poetry Friday friends.

I have been absent from blogging this summer as we prepare for a big change: we are moving to a new home in a few weeks! More details to come, but I hear that there is a resident tortoise living in the back garden.

Meanwhile, I’d like to invite you all to participate in a very special program.

Last year, my friends at 100 Thousand Poets for Change began a new initiative — Read a Poem to a Child. Once a year, everyone (poets, poetry lovers, aunts, uncles, grannies, librarians, dads, and dudes) is encouraged to read a poem to a child.

I am asking my friends in the kidlit community to record a video of themselves reading a poem for children, to be shared on social media. I’ll make a collection of these videos and will share the links here on my blog. No bells and whistles necessary. Find a comfy chair or a park bench, use your phone, read from a book or recite from memory.

Here are the details from 100 Thousand Poets for Change and their partner organization, Reading Is Fundamental:

“Dear Poets and Poetry Lovers, Will you read a poem to a child on September 23-28 as part of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Global initiative ‘Read A Poem To A Child?’ This is an especially an important year to highlight the significance of children in the world. We are increasingly aware of their fragility. It is time to take a moment in this busy, crazy life we live, and share something we cherish. Poetry is our gift. Last year we had over 2,000 individuals and organizations sign on to participate. Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of Read A Poem To A Child hopes to increase that participation.

“Click for a free downloadable pdf of poetry for children. And for classroom curriculum ideas you can contact Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of the Read A Poem To A Child initiative, at This important poetry literacy program was developed in conjunction with 100 Thousand Poets for Change and Florida State University Libraries Special Collections.”

If you’d like to let Michael know that you’re participating, go to this Facebook even page and comment “I’m in” with your city name.

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with! I may have to write a new tortoise poem for the occasion. (Especially since all of my poetry books are packed.)

Today, I’m hanging out with my two old dogs. We’re enjoying this old video of Jimmy Stewart reading his poem about his dog, Beau. Listen to how the audience settles down, stops laughing, and grows silent as they absorb this poem.

25 responses to “Read a Poem to a Child”

  1. Kathryn Apel says:

    I tend to cringe when I hear myself – but this might be the push I need to give voice to poetry. You’ve got me thinking about which poem I could use, Laura. (And sniffling a tad, after watching that video!)

  2. Irene Latham says:

    Nothing like a good dog… what good friends they are, and how we miss them when they are gone. Thank you for the video, Laura! xo

    • Laura Shovan says:

      My two dogs are both seniors now. They are my work-from-home companions and I don’t like to think about losing them.

  3. Linda Mitchell says:

    Sure thing! I will put this on my calendar and send you a video. What’s the best format to send video in? Thanks for doing this!

  4. Oh, I’d like to try recording a poem for you to share. When do you need the link?
    And thanks for sharing the video. I was touched by it and I enjoyed seeing how teary Johnny Carson got too.

  5. Linda Baie says:

    I’ll work on the poem sometime, Laura. What a nice thing to collect. Jimmy Stewart’s voice, oh, my, that poem brings some tears while remembering all my past dogs. Thank you-beautiful!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      It would be lovely to get a nice collection together that teachers can share in their classrooms. And the folks at 100 TPC would be thrilled to have our participation.

  6. What a great idea, Laura. I would like to participate. I would also like to send out the information via Twitter because reading to children is a priority of mine. I used to read to hundreds of children over a month when I created a Holiday House experience in my elementary school. Since I was a reading teacher, this was my schoolwide activity to encourage children to become great listeners and readers. I always enjoyed watching Jimmy Stewart in movies. This video is charming and brings back fond memories of my mother enjoying Jimmy Steward with me.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Wonderful, Carole. The best thing to do is join the 100 TPC “Read a Poem to a Child” page on Facebook. That’s the best source of info, including how to share the initiative on Twitter.

  7. Donna Smith says:

    What a beautiful video. Love Jimmy Stewart’s voice! I’ll see what I can come up with – such a good mission!

  8. LInda says:

    I love Jimmy Stewart. Thank you for sharing the video! Good luck on your move. It’s a lot of work but worth it.

  9. Kay Jernigan McGriff says:

    Okay, I’ll see what I can do–even if I cringe when I see myself on video. I might even be able to dig out my Jimmy Stewart poetry collection to read from! Good luck with the move. We are still getting settled into to our new home and community. It’s a good opportunity to weed and cull things out.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Go short, Kay. A haiku will do!! Yes — we’ve been weeding. We’ve made lots of trips to Goodwill this summer.

  10. Joyce Ray says:

    I loved hearing Jimmy Stewart’s voice reading his touching poem. Good luck with the move and with the poem reading project!

  11. What a great initiative, Laura! I’ll try to participate, though I’m not sure if I’ll be able to… also due to a move. I just got back from driving my folks from PA to FL, their new home now too, hurricanes and all. September’s going to be pretty busy helping them settle in. Best of luck to you in YOUR new home! The tortoise sounds like a good omen and a welcoming neighbor. 🙂

  12. […] you participating in the Read a Poem to a Child incentive? (Go to this post to find out more.) If you’ve got a video recording to share, feel free to drop the link in the comments. […]

  13. What a heartfelt story– poem Laura, thanks for sharing it! I’ll be reading to my Children’s Picture Book Class but they are all adults so I don’t think that counts–good luck with the project–and your unpacking.

  14. […] This Friday and next, I am celebrating Read a Poem to a Child Day. I wrote about this annual initiative a few weeks ago. You can read that post here. […]

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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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