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Through countless generations, in cultures across the globe, poetry has provided parents and caregivers with a natural means to calm fussing babies and tots and (perhaps unintentionally) to interest them in language. Singing lullabies and chanting nursery rhymes, we tune their ears to rhythm and meaning, drawing children to the sheer pleasure of listening and reading. Poetic wordplay nurtures the enjoyment of language in the growing child.
In the years since Shel Silverstein published "Deaf Donald met Talkie Sue" in A Light in the Attic (HarperCollins, 1981), other creative composers of poetry for young people have found a variety of ways to hook their audience through the use of clever language, contagious beat, and eye-catching graphics. Inventive poetry often incorporates unique spacing of words on a page (encouraging readers to search for a connection), variations in font and type size, and purposeful misspellings or alternative spellings of words in order to change meaning. In concrete poems, the words, and their arrangement on the page, become an integral part of the illustration. Wordplay offers silliness, puns, the creation of unique sounds through blending voices, and tongue-twisting. Innovative poetic forms include acrostic and rebus; list poem; and renga, a poem written by a number of poets, each creating one segment.
In inventive forms of poetry, readers often become a participant in the experience. It's no wonder that teachers at all grade levels use poetry to attract students to both reading and writing, and to other subjects in the curriculum as well. Here, then, is an offering of exceedingly clever poetry collections designed to stretch the imagination and the vocabulary, provide fun and entertainment, and kick-start the creative juices, along with some helpful websites created by the poets themselves to inspire young writers and their teachers.
Acrostic and Rebus
HARLEY, Avis. African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways. photos by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick. 2009. RTE $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3621-0; pap. ISBN 978-0-7636-5818-2.
Gr 4-8--Each of these 18 poems features a different animal and a stunning companion photo. Acrostics spell out a word relating to the animal. Unusual patterns, including a quintuple acrostic and a double acrostic concrete poem, show off the poet's innovative skills. Harley includes a lesson on basic acrostic form and variations, and encourages readers …