Book Talk: Little Dog Poems


April is National Poetry Month.  

I know, I know... "It's only February.  What is she talking about?  Can't I just get through Valentine's Day?"

But some of you are super planners... the kind of planners that know what the next 8 weeks look like... and I wanted you to have time to find this book.

A teammate of mine introduced me to this book years ago.  (Thank you Michele Hipolito.)  It's so sweet and it's perfect for young children just learning about this genre.  There are dozens of fun rhyming poetry books out there, but I think those are generally better for phonemic awareness development and language play and I typically keep those out of my poetry writing unit.  My caution (and this is from experience... bad experience) is that children begin to believe that all poems must rhyme and that's what they try to emulate.  But writing rhyming poetry is difficult for young writers with emerging skills and the nature of the rhyme limits their word choice and makes it more challenging to write about personal and meaningful topics.


Kristine George has become my favorite poet for young children.  In this book, Little Dog Poems, we follow one dog through his day.  Each page tells about a different event and is its own little poem.  What I love about the poems is that they're short (often just a sentence or two) and literally look like writing the children can successfully mimic.

In the following poems, notice how the author introduces (simply) the idea of line breaks and creative word arrangement on the page.  My kids LOVE these writing moves!  It's a great mentor text for my minilessons and I'm always amazed at how the children figure out why the author intentionally designed each of the poems the way she did and how the design affects the way we read each one.





I think right now the dog-lovers are melting inside.  I'm guessing even the cat-lovers are, too.  Isn't this book precious?  Every kid who has a dog, knows a dog, or wants a dog can relate to the topic.  

It's a great mentor text for teaching poetry, but it's just that... a mentor text... a text for children to study and learn from, but they don't have to write about dogs to be a poet.  The beautiful thing about poetry is that we can choose topics that are special or meaningful to us and write something tiny and powerful of our own!

There are good resources out there for teachers to use when planning poetry writing lessons.  I like the unit of study written by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College and I also like this little gem from Regie Routman.  (This one is specifically for 1st grade, but she has a book for K, 2, and 3-4 as well.) 


Check it out!

Happy teaching!


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