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Holidays: The Perfect Time to Pair Poetry and Picture Books

by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
 | Apr 30, 2015

In our article, “Nourishing the Mind All Day Long,” which appeared in the May/June Children’s Literature issue of Reading Today, we suggest pairing poems with picture books as a cross-genre exercise that incorporates the Common Core State Standards in a natural, incremental way.

Using a poem in a cross-genre exercise to introduce a picture book reinforces the theme of your lesson. Text-to-text connections, especially across genres, help students recognize patterns. Developing a habit of seeing connections creates independent learners who are capable of high-concept thinking on their own.
Below is our suggested list of picture book pairings based on specific days and holidays to get you started, which can be found in our book, The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015):

May 28: World Hunger Day
Poem: “A Dream Without Hunger” by Michael J. Rosen
Picture Book: The Mangrove Tree: Planting Trees to Feed Families by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore (Lee & Low, 2011)

June 19: Juneteenth
Poem: “Juneteenth” by Charles Waters
Picture Book: All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom by Angela Johnson and E.B. Lewis (Simon & Schuster, 2014)

July 21: National Moon Walk Day
Poem: “Moon Walk—July 21, 1969” by Susan Blackaby
Picture Book: Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca (Atheneum, 2009)

August 19: National Aviation Day
Poem: “National Aviation Day” by Tamera Will Wissinger
Picture Book: Planes Fly! by George Ella Lyon and Mick Wiggins (Atheneum, 2013)

September 17: Constitution Day & Citizenship Day
Poem: “A Dream Come True” by Georgia Heard
Picture Book: I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez (Knopf, 2014)

These are just a few examples from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations, which contains 156 poems in English and in Spanish and picture book pairings for each holiday. Find more pairings at PoetryCelebrations.com.

Sylvia Vardell is a professor at Texas Woman’s University. She has published extensively and maintains the Poetry for Children blog. Janet Wong, an ILA member since 2012, is the author of 30 children’s books. Vardell and Wong are the creative forces behind The Poetry Friday Anthology series (Pomelo Books).

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