A couple cool happenings for me lately:
- On May 7, my blog was the FEATURED CHILDREN’S LIT BLOG on Children’s Writing Update (the incredible newsletter for children’s writers from the publishers of Children’s Book Insider.) Here is what they had to say: In the past couple of years, there’s been an explosion in wonderful blogs about children’s books and the writing process. Now, in each issue of the Update, we’ll profile a unique and helpful blog.
This issue, we highlight an excellent example of an author’s blog. Children’s writer Cynthia Reeg discusses the craft of writing, her favorite books and useful tidbits for aspiring authors at her online journal. Thanks, Jon & Laura! You truly brought rays of sunshine to my otherwise supremely, soggy Wednesday.
- On May 9, while attending the end-of-year OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring luncheon, Carol Ottsen–the local director of the program–asked when my next picture book in THE PET GRAMMAR PARADE series was coming out. She told me how well KITTY KERPLUNKING: PREPOSITION FUN has been enjoyed by the tutors and children. So I was happy to inform her that the next book in the series, DOGGIE DAY CAMP: VERB & ADVERB ADVENTURES is already being illustrated by Kit Grady.
So now you know as well!
I had the great fortune to attend a workshop today given by Constance Levy, St. Louis’ own children’s poet guru. She spoke to OASIS reading tutors for the Rockwood School District on ways to interact with children using poetry.
“Poems don’t have to rhyme,” she said. “But they do need to flow and to have rhythm.” She explained that children should be encouraged to “write in a natural way.” She cautioned that teachers and tutors shouldn’t “squeeze the juice out of creativity” by restricting children’s poetry to a set subject or style.
“William Stafford (another Midwest poet) said a poem was ‘talk with a little luck in it’,” Ms. Levy said. She suggested reading several poems to children and asking them which one they liked best and why. Discuss with the children “who is talking in this poem, and who are they speaking to?”
Ms. Levy encouraged the OASIS tutors to help children take chances in poetry by using wild and crazy words–to have fun. And for elementary students, she talked about helping them learn “to break lines.” At school children are taught to write sentences and fill up each line, only breaking for paragraphs. But when writing poetry, the children must be re-taught to listen for phrasing and how to construct a poem.
Ms. Levy had all of us brainstorm for a few minutes on FOG, jotting down words and phrases which came to our minds. We were encouraged to be inventive, to think in colors and metaphors. To be open to the senses. Later after briefly discussing haikus, we were encouraged to try one–but not necessarily strictly limited to the 5, 7, 5 syllables in each of the three lines if that didn’t quite work for our poem.
Here is my morning haiku created with help from the earlier brainstorming session
A shrouded ghost mist
swallows me up as I walk
into its mystery.
Give yourself a treat and visit your local library where you’ll find copies of Constance Levy’s poetry books: A TREE PLACE,
WHEN WHALES EXHALE
A CRACK IN THE CLOUDS
I’M GOING TO PET A WORM TODAY
THE STORY OF RED RUBBER BALL