National Poetry Month

by Jimmie Lanley on April 10, 2010

April is always National Poetry Month. And April 29th is 2010 Poem in Your Pocket Day. Will you be celebrating? Or  maybe you will make some plans for regularly incorporating poetry into your homeschool routine?

We probably won’t wait until April 29th, but I’ve decided to use the poem If We Must Die by Claude McKay as a tie-in to our WW2 studies. Supposedly American and British soldiers were given copies of this poem to put in their pockets for inspiration. It’s a pretty grim poem, but I guess that soldiers need such sort of strong talk to motivate themselves.

Here is the original Poem in Your Pocket verse by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers:

Keep a Poem in Your Pocket

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely at night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to you
at night when you’re in bed.

Keep a picture in your pocket
and a poem in your head
and you’ll never be lonely at night when you’re in bed.

Print poems for your pocket at or Homeschool Creations.  Or better yet, copy your own favorite poem. Here is a half sheet poetry page from Scholastic. And here is an accordion book template I created. (Click the image to download.)

If you want to read more about children and poetry, start with this interview of Michael Rosen, the UK Children’s Laureate, at Video Jug . He answers the questions:

  • What’s the best way to introduce kids to poetry?
  • What are the benefits of getting your child into poetry?
  • Do humans have an instinct for poetry?

Like most things, poetry is an acquired taste. I am so glad that I started very early to introduce poetry to Sprite. We started with the Random House Book of  Poetry for Children. It has lasted us several years, even with reading one poem each school day. Soon we’ll be moving on to using Classic Poems to Read Aloud in which the poems are longer and more challenging but still appropriate for children.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tatiana April 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hooray for poetry! It gets me so excited to read about others using it in their studies, especially when it’s combined with other subjects. We just read Wordsworth’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” because it’s great to read in spring. I wasn’t familiar with “If We Must Die” so thanks for sharing it! What a great example of poetry being relevant and meaningful!
.-= Tatiana´s last blog ..Video Games =-.


Paula April 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm

Thank you for sharing ‘If We Must Die’.
My daughter (8) loves ‘Poetry Speaks to Children’ by Elise Paschen. It comes with lovely illustrations and a CD, so that your child can hear the poets reading their poems aloud.
For study we just finished ‘The Music of the Hemispheres’ by Michael Clay Thompson. It is a great book:
Read my blog entry here.
In the Netherlands we have an annual ‘Poetry Day’. My husband and I spoke (and emailed) in rhyme the whole day 🙂 It was funny but exhausting.
Great post, Jimmie. Thank you.


Marsha April 11, 2010 at 5:19 am

That template is so cute, Jimmie! I like that idea about having one for bed. I might have to laminate the pocket poems too.

I’m glad it’s not pick-your-pocket day, which is what I thought at first glance!
.-= Marsha´s last blog ..Loving it from ribs to roses =-.


alecat April 11, 2010 at 8:18 am

What a neat idea! We’re memorising a short poem every week, but I really like the idea of the children literally putting their poems in their pockets. 🙂


amy in peru April 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

I’m looking forward to reading some of these links…

The boys and I are taking advantage of these years for memorizing poems too… I LOVE it when I hear them reciting it on their own prompted by some random thing or other.


My great-grandmother had TONS of nifty poems memorized. It is one of my special memories of her. Even very late in life we would ask her for the different poems she knew. She always amazed me with some of the really long ones. VERY special.

Thanks for posting. Very good as usual. 🙂

amy in peru
.-= amy in peru´s last blog ..Nature study on the road =-.


amy in peru April 12, 2010 at 5:16 am

Most meaningful (to me) points from the article…

“Children rarely gravitate to poetry on their own. It’s an acquired taste. They must be introduced to it early and often by their teachers and parents, the critical influences in their lives.”

“…any genre buried in unread books is useless. Make poetry a habit with students. If children are reading poetry they find insipid or pointless, they naturally reject it for the playground.”

And then his closing paragraph… oh yeah.

Thanks for the link…

I’m about to buy the book: The Best Poems of the English Language: From Chaucer Through Robert Frost …check out the reviews! I can’t wait!

amy in peru
.-= amy in peru´s last blog ..Nature study on the road =-.


Sybille April 14, 2010 at 2:08 am

I didn’t know there was a National Poetry Month! (Well, we are not American) I love that idea! And yes, so just today we worked upon Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky (I will post it tomorrow morning) – in German, of course. We did it during our biology unit about antlions. I think poetry can enter everywhere, and I love how my boys enjoy it. Thank you Jimmie for sharing soooo many interesting things!
your big fan from South Tyrol /Italy
.-= Sybille´s last blog .. =-.


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