Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

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Authors: Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth

Illustrator: Ekua Holmes

Publisher: Candlewick

Date of Publication: March 14, 2017

Awards: 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner

Age Range: 8-13 years

Grade Level: 3-8th

Resources:

This is a poetry book celebrating poets, the artists of the world that express all the beauties, sorrows, and everything-in-betweens of life. These original poems penned by three authors pay tribute to 20 influential poets who have inspired the authors’ artistry and wonder. This is a book that immediately hooks the reader based on the passion that exudes from the pages. This book was born from love and admiration. Each illustration reflects that message, they are beautiful and go perfectly with each poem. This book encapsulates diversity, both in its varied styles of poetry, and the poets that inspired the poetry. Children will delight in learning of these important literary figures: Maya Angelou, Bashō, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Chief Dan George, Nikki Giovanni, Terrance Hayes, Langston Hughes, Walter Dean Myers, Pablo Neruda, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Okot p’Bitek, Rumi, William Carlos Williams, and Judith Wright.

The Giving Tree

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Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date of Publication: 1964

Awards: 14th on a list of “All-Time Bestselling Children’s Books” from Publishers Weekly, 3rd on“Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” poll by the National Education Association, 85th on “Top 100 Picture Books” of all time by School Library Journal.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Preschool – 3rd

Resources:

This book needs no introduction. Shel Silverstein brings us a classic already loved by so many generations past, and countless more generations are left to fall in love with this book as well. The language is simple, but the symbolism and message is profound. The illustrations are simple, but all the needed imagery is present. This is a story of a tree that loves a boy. She loves him to the point that she will give all she has to give. There are many different interpretations of this text, some positive, and some negative. This is a book many experience as a child and grow to love deep into adulthood. It is a book that we ponder for the rest of our lives. Young children first introduced to it can discuss the implications of loving someone, what is loving but justified sacrifice, and what is a total submission of self? Even if such deeper discussions are not present, this story of love and devotion is enough to warm anyone’s heart.

Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems

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Author: Joyce Sidman

Illustrator: Beckie Prange

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: April 4, 2005

Awards: Caldecott Honor Book, Lee Bennet Hopkins Poetry Award, Horn Book Fanfare, Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors’ Choice

Age Range: 6 – 11 years

Grade Level: 1 – 5th

Resources:

As the seasons go by the pond is a living and breathing thing at every point. Life spills over the edge, from duckweed to painted turtles, all captured in stunning illustrations and beautifully versed poetry. The illustrations are hand colored woodcuts, a worthy winner of the Caldecott award based on ingenuity, creativity, and craft alone. You may pick this book up expecting only poetry and pretty pictures, but this book is also strong in its science and facts and you will definitely close its cover having learned so many new things. Poetry is a wonderful art for all ages, but young students and children will delight in its natural rhythm and complementing art. This book only serves to remind us of nature’s beauty and balance, a deep inhale in the form of a book,

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman

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Author: Neil Gaiman

Illustrator: Charles Vess

Publisher: HarperCollins

Date of Publication: March 10th, 2009

Awards: Goodreads Choice Awards Best Picture Books

Age Range: 4 – 8 years

Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3

Resources:

  1. Review by Wired.com that compares it to Neil Gaiman’s other work
  2. Review by Kirkus Reviews

Blueberry Girl is children’s book first conceived as a poem about a much loved baby growing up into a young woman surrounded by love, imagination, and hope. This book’s soft and beautiful illustrations combined with the sweet and lovely poetic verse stands alone as art itself. This book is intended for any child experiencing the wonderful and beautiful process of growing up, all the joys and all the struggles. It is for the parents, and all who love that child, to read and shed some tears. Blueberry Girl especially focuses on growing up into a strong woman, so it is targeted more towards girls and parents of girls, but that is no reason to not share this book with a boy. It will inspire everyone regardless of gender and age to persist through sadnesses and hardships, and to emerge with joy and growth.