April is National Poetry Month and a great time to talk about diversity in literature. Poetry allows you to express ideas and emotions in all different ways while leaving room to include diversity in either the content of the poems or in the illustrations. Some types of poems have more rules to follow but others, like free verse, can open up a whole new door to allowing diverse ideas and topics to flow.
For instance, books like "A Full Moon is Rising" allow authors to write about different cultures. This particular book focuses on the moon and how it is perceived and experienced by different cultures around the word. Not only can students learn about diverse people, they can also be exposed to some geography, thus providing an integration of subjects that will help promote such a book in schools.
Some poetry books like "Iguanas in the Snow" can include words from a foreign language or showcase poems completely in two languages. Bilingual books allow students to learn another language while providing a platform for those students learning English to still enjoy literature in their native language while acquiring a new language. However, rhyming poems don't always translate directly into another language. Sometimes book publishers have to balance between keeping the general theme of the poem while changing some lines of the poem in order to maintain a similar form of rhyming pattern in the translated version.
Any way you slice it, poetry is a great avenue to promote diversity!
Angela Padron is a published illustrator of two books, including "The Hero in You" by Ellis Paul, as well as a Star Wars geek and chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. She also writes and illustrates her own picture books, board books, and chapter books. When she's not teaching, Angela works as a freelance writer and editor for educational publishers and spends weekends enjoying walks along the beach with her family. She's also one of the admins for the online KidLit Illustration Critique Group. View her online portfolio at www.angelapadron.com. You can also "like" her facebook page, follow her on Twitter @angela_padron, and follow her own blog called "Show and Tell" with weekly posts about teaching, writing and illustrating books for children.
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