But, since most of my weekend was spent writing, I had to push back a video blog. So today will just be a regular post, but I hope you still enjoy it.
In August, I discovered a book at Barnes and Noble that I wish I had written. This book made me long to be a first grade teacher again. The days I spent in a first grade classroom harvesting poets. I love first graders! They’re hilarious! I love that they are natural poets. I love that by simply choosing the right book as a mentor text, they could write profound and brilliant poetry. (Even the boys who hated writing and would have rather been playing hide and seek on the playground.)
So when I discovered this book, it brought me back to my days as a first grade teacher. I really wish there were a job called First Grade Poetry Teacher or even First Grade Writing Teacher. I would still be teaching the younger ones if there were.
This fabulous book is called My Blue is Happy by Jessica Young.
What is your blue like? A lyrical ode to colors — and the unique ways we experience them — follows a little girl as she explores the world with her family and friends.
Your neighbor says red is angry like a dragon’s breath, but you think it’s brave like a fire truck. Or maybe your best friend likes pink because it’s pretty like a ballerina’s tutu, but you find it annoying — like a piece of gum stuck on your shoe. In a subtle, child-friendly narrative, art teacher and debut author Jessica Young suggests that colors may evoke as many emotions as there are people to look at them — and opens up infinite possibilities for seeing the world in a wonderful new way.
I can’t tell you how much I love this book! But here are a few reasons:
1. It introduces similes to young kids in a very easily understood way.
2. It helps them see the world on so many levels. Color has power, emotion, and we all see it differently.
3. It’s a great mentor text that gives kids an easy structure to replicate.
4. It has a great message that everyone sees color in different ways.
My favorite color in the whole world is brown. I loved to tell this to first graders because they would all squeal with shock and laughter exclaiming that brown wasn’t a real color and why didn’t I love purple and pink like most girls?
But just like the little girl in this book, I saw brown in a different way. In the book, her dad sees it as an ordinary paper bag, but she sees it as chocolate syrup!
I hope you get a chance to check out this book. It’s simply amazing.
Also, Jessica Young has some fantastic resources on her blog for teachers in K-2 and 3-5 that go along with this book. (Not all teacher resource materials are created equal, but I have to say hers are really good!)
The rest of Jessica’s website is pretty fascinating as well. There are adorable pictures of her as a child! One thing in particular that I loved on her site was the following quote:
I’m inspired by things people (especially kids) say and do; sensations, like the sun on my face, or the taste of ice cream; memories of being a kid; music, art, and books; names, random facts, and the sounds of words.
I couldn’t agree more!
I tutor a 5 year old in reading and each time I’m with her she says the most profound things! I keep telling her mom she’s a natural poet. For example:
She lifted up a book and sniffed it and said, “Mmmmm….I love the smell of books!”
Or another time I was writing her sight words with a marker and she said, “It’s like you can hear the sound the letters make.”
Kids are amazing and such natural poets. We just have to really listen and pay attention to them. And then expose them to great mentor texts like My Blue is Happy!
If interested in colors and words and similes, check out the following webpage. It’s a word lover’s candyland.
Here are some other favorite books to inspire young poets:
Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman
Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neil
The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin
And finally…since I didn’t do a video blog, I’ll share a poem from the book I was working on this weekend. (Which coincidentally goes along with the topic of this blog.) The historical fiction novel in verse is set in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The novel is told in the alternating point of view of an eleven year old black girl, Matty, and an eleven year old white girl, Laura Lee, who both are riding the Cleveland Ave. bus.
Hope you enjoy! (Poem inspired by the following photograph found here: http://www.creativephotography.org/study-research/educators/reframing-america/palfi1c.html)
(***Update...I just realized that this poem I chose to share is actually dated Oct. 21st 1955 in the book and today's date is October 21st! Crazy how that worked out.)
October 21, 1955
Painted on the wall
This part of the bus for the colored race.
Colored. That’s a funny word
as if we have red and purple stripes
or green and blue polka dots
or yellow and orange starbursts
teacher told us to draw
pictures of our favorite color
Teacher told me to do it over
because brown is not a real color
© Mandy C. Yates
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