All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Poetry

Since 1996, April has been National Poetry Month. Here are some books that will serve as great poetry starting points. For more ideas, see the National Poetry Month website. And for your once a week taste of poetry, don't forget Poetry Friday.

A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson

A Voice of Her Own: Becoming Emily Dickinson

Age Level: 14-16

A thoroughly researched, fictionalized account of the life of Emily Dickinson as a young girl. While most obviously useful for school support, the book will also appeal to budding writers and those who enjoy a strong heroine.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

Age Level: 14-16

While not poetry, this book relies on the same economy of language. A variety of writers try to sum up their life in six simple words. Clever and fun, this book is a perfect starting point for a similar writing lesson.

The Rose that Grew from Concrete

The Rose that Grew from Concrete

Age Level: 14-16

These poems, (written by Shakur nearly 20 years ago!) are popular with aspiring poets, lyricists and rappers. Written by Tupac when he was an older teen himself, these poems continue offer insights into a rap legend.

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Age Level: 16-18

While she became renowned for her poetry, Plath's best known work is probably this semi-autobiographical novel of a college student's slide into depression, a classic favorite of dark teenage girls. Those that enjoy this should also try Stephanie Hemphill's novel in verse, Your Own Sylvia, a fictionalized version of Plath's life, and winner of a Printz honor for best young adult book in 2007.

Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem

Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem

Age Level: 9-12

Jack Prelutsky, author of award-winning titles like The New Kid on the Block and If Not For the Cat, will be familiar to many children,. Here he uses easy tips and humor to get even the most reluctant writer started with writing the poetic form.

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

Age Level: 9-12

Despite the dry subtitle, this is actually a lively guide to poetry forms both familiar and obscure. In a picture-book format, Janeczko uses examples and informative language to illustrate a wide variety of poems.

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems

Age Level: 12-14

Teenage Jessie shares the ups and downs of her life in these clever, and cleverly constructed, poems. This is a sequel to Technically It's Not My Fault, which was told in the voice of her younger brother.

Casey at the Bat

Casey at the Bat

Illustrated by: Joe Morse

Age Level: 9-12

This classic poem, which may not be familiar to kids today, is given a contemporary update by illustrator Joe Morse, who moves the setting to the inner city. Contrast this version with other illustrated versions of the poem and examine how the illustrations and text work together to affect meaning.

Bronx Masquerade

Bronx Masquerade

Age Level: 12-14

When a high school class starts having Friday afternoon open-mike poetry, the kids tell their life stories and worries in the poems included in this book. This is a great introduction to spoken word poetry and an inspiration to budding poets.

Wildly Romantic: The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad and the Dangerous

Wildly Romantic: The English Romantic Poets: The Mad, the Bad and the Dangerous

Age Level: 14-16

This collective biography of romantic poets Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron and Coleridge might seem dry at first, but keep reading for tales of sex, drugs and even death. Interspersed are some of the poetic verses that made these poets famous.