Tag Archives: poetry

Three Ways to Teach Etched In Clay by Andrea Cheng

Jill_EisenbergJill Eisenberg, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching English as a Foreign Language to second through sixth graders in Yilan, Taiwan as a Fulbright Fellow. She went on to become a literacy teacher for third grade in San Jose, CA as a Teach for America corps member. She is certified in Project Glad instruction to promote English language acquisition and academic achievement. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators.

1. Teaching Students About Narrator Bias

Etched In Clay is a compelling case study for narrator bias and trustworthiness. The text structure with 13 narrators and its economy of words make Dave’s story captivating, especially to middle grade Etched in Clay written and illustrated by Andrea Chengstudents who are beginning to engage with primary sources from the period of American slavery. Students can analyze how each speaker’s social experiences, status, motivations, and values influence his/her point of view, such as evaluating the poems of the slave-owners who would have had a vested interest in popularizing a particular narrative of slavery.

Using multiple perspectives to tell the story of one life is a striking display of how events can be interpreted and portrayed by different positions in the community. Students face the task of examining the meaning and nuance of each narrator (13 in total!) and what they choose to convey (or don’t).

Continue reading

Poetry Friday: “A Poem!” from Etched In Clay

andrea chengAndrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

April is National Poetry Month, so we asked author Andrea Cheng to share one of her favorite poems from Etched in Clay:

FEATURED POEM

Etched in Clay, p. 65

A Poem!

Continue reading

Andrea Cheng on Writing Biography in Verse

Andrea Cheng image

Andrea Cheng is the author of several critically-acclaimed books for young readers. Her most Guest bloggerrecent novel, Etched in Clay, tells the story in verse of Dave the Potter, an enslaved man, poet, and master craftsperson whose jars (many of which are inscribed with his poetry and writings) are among the most sought-after pieces of Edgefield pottery. Etched in Clay recently won the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

When I heard an NPR review of Leonard Todd’s book, Carolina Clay, I knew that Dave’s was a story I wanted to Etched in Claytell.  And from the start, I knew that I wanted to tell it in verse.   Readers often ask me why.  I didn’t make this decision consciously, but subconsciously, I think there were reasons.

The evidence of Dave’s life is fragmentary: pots and shards and bills of sale.    This means that each small piece of evidence stands for something more, something much larger than the object itself.  For example, the first bill of sale shows that Harvey Drake purchased a teenage boy for six hundred dollars.  He was “country born” with “good teeth” and “a straight back. “ (Etched in Clay, p. 7) There is so much sorrow in these few words.  A person is being evaluated and then sold like an animal.  After a quick transaction, he becomes the property of someone else.  The only way I know to allow a reader to feel this sorrow is through the intensity of a poem.

Continue reading

Five Favorite Books for Snow Days

We hope you all had a peaceful holiday season filled with delicious food, friends & family, and some quiet time with a good book. We’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging next week, but meanwhile, they’re forecasting 5-8 inches of snow here in the New York area tonight. Obviously, that means one thing:

Snowball FightSnowball fight!

In preparation, I thought I’d put together a list of my five favorite books to cuddle up with during snow days:

Continue reading

Unpacking the Common Core Standards, Part 3: Thinking Horizontally

Jaclyn DeForgeJaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. 

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been talking talked the importance of looking at the standards horizontally as well as vertically, and in today’s post, I’m going to do just that as I walk you through what effective close reading questioning can look like, unpacking one strand at a time using texts of varying complexities.  On the docket for today:

Reading Standards for Literature K-3, Craft and Structure, Strand 4

Pencil-Talk-And-Other-School-Poems cover

In Kindergarten, the strand reads:  Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

Example text: Pencil Talk and Other School Poems by Anastasia Suen & illustrated by Susie Lee Jin

genre: poetry

Strand-specific questions:

  • Look at the poem “Pencil Talk.” Which words were tricky for you to sound out?  Did you come across any words where you weren’t sure what they meant?***What does the word scratch mean? Bonus:  What does the poet mean when she writes “Pencils can talk…but we can’t!
  • Continue reading

Poetry Friday: Marilyn Singer’s Favorite Poems

April is National Poetry Month, and we’re celebrating by asking some of our own Lee & Low poets to share their favorite poems with us. Today, poet Marilyn Guest Blogger Singer (A Full Moon is Rising) shares:

Marilyn SingerOne of my favorite poems is by the late Karla Kuskin:  “Write About a Radish…,” which begins:

Continue reading

Spring into Multicultural Children’s Books!

While it may not feel like it, today is the first day of spring! We’re very excited for our forthcoming spring titles, which you can check out here. To kick off the spring season, here’s an image and poem from Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems/Jitomates Risueños y otros poemas de primavera, written by Francisco X. Alarcón, and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, published by Children’s Book Press, an imprint of LEE & LOW.

Continue reading

Guadalupe Garcia McCall on how writing heals

In this excerpt from her 2012 Pura Belpré acceptance speech, Under the Mesquite author Guadalupe Garcia McCall shares how writing the book helped her heal and brought her closer to her father:

Guadalupe Garcia McCall as a teenager, standing with her mother
Guadalupe Garcia McCall as a teenager, standing with her mother

My life with my mother was full of love and acceptance. I was blessed to be her daughter, even if for a little while. That’s why I wanted Under the Mesquite to be a true reflection of her nature. I wanted it to do what she did best—to nurture young people’s dreams, to give them the courage and strength to pursue those dreams. Writing Mesquite was both wonderful and painful. For in the process of writing this book, I pulled out and dusted off memories I had set aside, memories I had tucked into deep crevices in my heart, put away for fear of losing them. I am glad they are written down now. My mother lives because this book exists. It is her nurturing spirit that resides in these pages, her wisdom, her love, and I am so happy to be able to share her with you.

Continue reading

California’s new poet laureate!

Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera, who has just been appointed California poet laureate! Herrera is the author of 28 volumes of poetry and other works, including several award-winning children’s books.

In honor of Juan Felipe Herrera, here’s a poem from his book The Upside Down Boy:

After a week of reading a new poem aloud to us every day

Continue reading

A Full Moon Contest!

In celebration of our new book A Full Moon is Rising, we’re having ourselves a little contest! A Full Moon is Rising, by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Julia Cairns, shows readers how people across the globe celebrate the full moon. Take a peek:

Continue reading