Celebrating Poetry and the Power of Read Aloud

I’m celebrating the week with Ruth Ayres and friends. I love this weekly ritual that looks to find those moments every week to hold up, savor and celebrate. Thank you Ruth for orchestrating this. Read more celebration link ups here.

 celebrate link up

 Notebooks are full of poems and are being published in REAL books with hard covers and paper pages, 28 of them.  Publishing on the blog is still happening, but a book is something that can you can put on the shelf.  It’s something that will be there over time.

Students looked at what they had developed in their writing notebooks. They listed out all of their poems and tried to find what ideas seemed to repeat. What kept coming up, again and again. What were they trying to tell the world.  How did they connect.  How could they group them or sequence them to create a collection. Who is their audience.  Themes were found around friendship, sports, school or simply pet love. One student said

My book is full of my imagination and it moves this way and that way because that’s what my mind does. This is me.

Clutching their mentor poetry books, students planned their layout: sections, a title page, table of contents, dedication and about the author pages. Once planned they got a white bare book and took off with “old school” creation tools:  pencils, erasers and notebooks that allow room for more development. Some are confident in their artistic abilities, others who say “I don’t draw good” need some coaching. Some script is big and bold, others small and curvy,  but all are asking each other, “Can you read this?” and “how do you spell…” The novelty of this publishing tool seems to have focused their thinking around things that usually don’t get their attention:  presentation and how the reader would read their work. This is an outcome I didn’t expect. Perhaps it is the mentor books that has inspired this focus; perhaps it is the real book publishing environment; perhaps it is a combination.  Whatever the reason, passion for poetry is high. They want their words on the page to reflect and  highlight what their imagination sees. Here’s to celebrating creating books of poetry.





We started A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd this week. With only four weeks left and lots of activities planned, I’m worried that we will have enough time. We will make time because I want the magic of read aloud to fill our classroom one more time before they go off to middle school.



This reminds me of Winn Dixie.

The mom is like Opal’s dad.

The sadness.

The lozenges , remember the sadness.

Yeah it was a symbol.

What could be a symbol here? Ice cream?

Felicity talks like Opal.

She’s a country girl like Opal.

She’s a poet like Ivan.

She sees words like Melody saw colors in Out of My Mind.

She has magic.

Words are magic.


Oh my.  I didn’t expect these connections. I didn’t hint at them. I didn’t make them.  Students were bursting with ideas. They are full of wonders and connecting ideas to texts. They are wondering about symbolism in chapter two! They are aware of the possibility and are on the look out for it. They know this is how books go. And they may revise their thinking, because that is what readers really do.

We read Out of My Mind and The One and Only Ivan this year, but these students read Because of Winn Dixie  two years ago. This speaks not only to the beauty and power of the book, but to the interactive read aloud teaching that went into it. This classroom, full of English language learners, remembers the shell the preacher was in, the litmus lozenges, the sadness and they are actively accessing it, two years later. This is a room of thinkers, of readers. They are doing this because real literature was read, thought about, and experienced throughout their elementary school years.

Today I celebrate amazing literature, the power of interactive read aloud across all grade levels, and my students who teach me so much.



8 thoughts on “Celebrating Poetry and the Power of Read Aloud

  1. I teared up reading this Julieanne. It is so incredible how the shared read aloud experience can produce such amazing thinking and comments. All of these characters are obviously so alive in your classroom setting and in the memories of your students. Wow. Thinkers and Readers, absolutely. Beautiful.

  2. I’m reading A Snicker of Magic aloud, too! I loved their connections to Because of Winn Dixie. The ice cream is definitely like the lozenges!

  3. So wonderful, the poetry and the read aloud part. I have some favorite read alouds through the years and, like you, can’t celebrate their power enough for the learning, the conversations, and that shared experience. Love the paragraph “I didn’t expect these connections…., Julieanne.” I guess we both wrote about similar things today, didn’t we? Thank you for taking the time to share so much detail today, loved every bit!

  4. I have to echo your ‘oh my’ Julieanne. This thinking is breath-takingly beautiful! And it’s such a testament to what happens when we stop reading to practice skills and read instead to make meaning and connect to books at their deepest level. Along the way, students learn how books work and what readers do—and all that helps them love books even more! What a year you & your students have had! I only hope that when they hit middle school they find a teacher who values their thinking as much as you have. Enjoy the next four weeks with them. It sounds like more than a snicker of magic!

  5. Oh, I want to come over to listen to your read aloud discussions and see the poetry books. What you shared reminds why we are in the classroom with the students – helping the readers and writers grow and take ownership of their thinking, learning and creations. Happy Mother’s Day!

  6. What fun publishing those books! I loved Snicker of Magic and your students’ thinking is amazing. I love when they make those connections, and you are so right about the power of the read-aloud! Happy Mother’s Day!

  7. I love this post, Julieanne. What a powerful pairing to help me see how important it is to clear space for all that thinking, even down to the page layout of the poetry book, which we can see underneath all the writer’s “stuff” on the table. And of course, what a joy for you (and for them) to see how two years — such a very long time for them — can connect inside the pages of a book. You’ve given them that space. Superb!

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