Monday, April 4, 2011

Hailstones and Halibut Bones

April is National Poetry Month. When I taught fourth grade we had to complete our poetry unit before April because of testing requirements. However, we would revisit poetry in fun ways during the month. The Academy of American Poets provides resources for those who want to engage children in learning more about poetry.

I used poetry as part of our weekly speaker's theater program, so I had a couple of boxes of poetry books in my classroom library for students to find poems to use for the exercise. I encouraged them to choose styles of poems and to explore different poets.

One book I was glad to see back in print was Hailstones and Halibut Bones. I was introduced to these color poems as a child. I loved the way the author gave colors personalities. When I was in school for education, I was unable to locate the book in print and could only write down copies of the poems to share with my students. Eventually I located a few second hand copies that I gave as gifts to family members.

While kids are naturally drawn to the humor and fun of Jack Prelutsky in A Pizza the Size of the Sun or Shel Silverstein in Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Anniversary Edition: Poems and Drawings it can be challenging to get kids to move on to new poets that do not focus on soley on humor and rhyme.

Mary O'Neill has been used not just to interest children in reading poetry, but as a means of getting them to write poems that do not rhyme or fit a specific poetic formula. For years, children have pondered what colors are after exploring her poetic definitions.

If you did not read Hailstones and Halibut Bones as a child, it is worth checking out of your local library and reading it with your children. This month is a great chance to check out the poetry section at your local library. Your children will have the chance to explore a variety of different styles, formats, and become more comfortable with a different genre of writing.

If you are looking for information on children's poets check out the Children's Author Blog Page.

Free poetry resources can be found on the Poetry Page.


  1. It's at our library with all copies in use, but I've put it on hold. Thanks for the heads up on this one!

  2. Sounds interesting. When get some time, I may look into it as well.