Tag: poetry

Gwendolyn Brooks’s new children’s book offers a joyous lesson in empathy

Once in awhile, a children’s book comes along that’s equal parts timely and and classic, and that’s just how I’d describe the We are Shining, penned by the late poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, Gwendolyn Brooks. It’s filled with exquisite but accessible words of hope, excitement and self-affirmation that even young children can understand and appreciate. And a message they could probably use these days, if they have a sense of some of the more troubling issues in the news lately. Related: What did Frederick Douglass really do? This book helps them (and a few adults) find out. What’s really special to me is how...

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15 amazing Langston Hughes quotes to help start important discussions with your kids

Today marks not only the beginning of Black History Month, but the birthday of the beloved, brilliant, prescient poet Langston Hughes, who would have been 114 today. As with all essential writers throughout history, his words live on long past his death in 1967. In fact, so many Langston Hughes quotes, thoughts and lines from his poetry are as relevant today as they ever were. One of the things I like to do with my kids from time to time, is read them a quote then discuss it. It’s actually amazing how kids even as young as four or five can have some basic...

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Put a poem in your pocket: A fun way to celebrate National Poetry Month

By this point in the school year, my kids know not to expect the sorts of lunchbox love notes they got from me daily in September. But there are a few days on the calendar that inspire me to scribble something special to surprise them: Valentine’s Day (of course), St. Patrick’s Day (a must in our Irish-American household), and Poem in Your Pocket Day. Poem in Your Pocket Day (today!) is my favorite part of National Poetry Month each April. The idea is that everyone should carry a poem in their pocket to read in quiet moments or share with friends. Because, who...

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Novels written in verse (yes!), for kids, are must-reads for National Poetry Month

I have a new obsession: novels written in verse. Seriously, I’m flying through a few of these books a week and the best part? My kids are too. The fact that these novels are poetic gives them a lyrical beauty that’s missing in a lot of plot-driven stories for kids, and yet they’re still fascinating page turners — a must when you’re trying to capture a tween’s attention. Even the most pesky readers who feel poetry is boring with a capital B are likely to be hooked after the first couple of pages. I pretty much guarantee it. Related: More of our favorite poetry...

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7 must-have poetry books for young readers, in honor of National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month, so we’re having some fun adding poetry to our bedtime reading routine. Of course, any reading out loud to my kids is good for growing brains, but kids seem to have a special love for poetry–even before they understand the words we’re saying. If you’re ready to build your library beyond The Cat in the Hat, I recommend these must-have poetry books for young readers. Related: 2014’s best books for kids: All the lists, all in one place   Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein You knew we had to go here first, right? All of Shel Silverstein’s books for kids are amazing,...

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Our favorite Maya Angelou quotes, in honor of one of the best human being in the history of the world

I can’t tell you how sad we all are about the death of Maya Angelou today at 86. Starting with the must-read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings back when I was a kid, I was instantly captivated by her amazing command of the language, and how profoundly she could find truth and convey meaning even using the most accessible prose.  The older I grew, the more important her essays and poems became to me. In fact, there are so many quotes we have all commonly heard, that you may not even know they originated with Dr. Angelou. If you feel like surrounding yourself with a little more of her remarkable...

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Goodnight Songs: A wonderful collection of new poems by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny were among the regular read-aloud books in my home for a very long time. So I am thrilled for her old and new fans alike that Goodnight Songs, a treasure trove of poems from the late Margaret Wise Brown, has been discovered and published in a gorgeous new children’s book complete with illustrations from so many of our favorite artists.   Goodnight Songs is a special book in so many ways. For those of us who have always loved the gentle rhythm and repetition of Margaret Wise Brown’s writing, it brings to light a dozen...

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Honoring Black History Month with inspiring quotes from Maya Angelou

The history of Black Americans is filled with stories of inspiration and strength, so in honor of Black History Month, I was so happy to find artwork inspired by one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou. Each piece features quotes that have been turned into artwork and speak of that resilience, hope, and courage. I also love how universal they are in their messaging, and how her beautiful words speak to all kinds of people. Wise words for us all. Etsy’s Finding Sunshine Rae creates typographical prints on photo paper (at top) which feature a mix of lettering and colors to spell out...

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Josephine: A children’s book as complex, vibrant, and endearing as Josephine Baker herself.

It’s clear that Josephine Baker is one of those few celebrity icons who transcends generations. My parents loved her, I loved her, and now my girls love her thanks to the new book, Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. And despite it being a book for kids, if it weren’t for Christian Robinson’s wonderful illustrations, you might think it was an adult-targeted poetic ode to the legendary performer. Patricia Hruby Powell’s prose feels like jazz itself, dancing across the pages with a kind of defiant playfulness; the random line breaks, indentations, metaphors, erratic use of all-cap words are writers’ tools...

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Poems by New Yorkers: The website that will inspire you to talk to strangers

When I first heard about 365 Day Subway: Poems by New Yorkers, a project started by friend, neighbor, and prolific author Madeline Schwartzman it was like one of those instant, “d’oh! Why didn’t I think of that!” moments. Well there’s a good reason why–because she’s way cooler than I am. And evidently fearless when it comes to approaching random New Yorkers on the subway and asking them to write a poem for her on the spot. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s just launched a website featuring beautiful, poignant, funny, sassy, and incredibly profound poetry from all kinds of...

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Making your walls a little more literary

I love prints that play with typography. Clever, modern design has a way of turning what could be a cheesy inspirational quote into a piece of art I could live with.   That’s why I love the work by New York graphic artist Evan Roberts on Etsy. These cool literary quote posters inspired by the likes of T.S. Eliot (no, not from Cats), JD Salinger, Jane Austen, Ernest Hemmingway, Kurt Vonnegut. It’s refreshing to see he hasn’t generally picked the most ubiquitous of quotes. Each one is printed beautifully on heavy, archival paper. Look closely and you’ll find lots...

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The best poetry books for kids: make some time for a little rhyme

What can I say? My kids just love poetry. Maybe it’s because my singing voice sounds like a goat gargling, and maybe it’s because they can always convince me to read just one more poem. There’s also the possibility that poetry is a beautiful, rhythmic exploration of story and feelings accessible by all ages? (Naw, probably just the goat gargling part.) We hope you’ll make a connection with this small collection of poetry books that Cool Mom Picks has covered, including two of my family’s all-time favorites. This colorful, nonesensical volume is my daughter’s all-time favorite poetry book, thanks...

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Honoring Black History Month with poetry

In honor of Black History Month, I’ve started sharing a beautifully illustrated new book with my kids that introduces them to 200 years of poetry from some of the most influential African-American poets. Even more than a history book, these words will paint a picture in their minds of a time in the not-so-distant-past when their own friends would not have been allowed to share an ice cream at the restaurant or ride bikes down the street. The latest in the Poetry for Young People series, their collection African American Poetry includes over 30 poems from household names like...

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If toddlers could write poetry, it would go something like this

Poems about children and parenting can be kind of, um, hit or miss. Whether it’s too saccharin or just too earnest, I’m not sure–all I know is that it often leaves me vaguely uncomfortable. (And I was a creative writing major!) Not the case with To What Miserable Wretches Have I Been Born? Revenge Poetry for Babies and Toddlers. Although you might have guessed that from the title. Written by Suzanne Weber–also known as Anita Liberty, the author of books such as How to Stay Bitter Through the Happiest Times of Your Life–it’s a book of poetry from your baby...

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There was an old lady who lived in a graphic novel…

My middle son loves graphic novels. They really get him excited about reading, and I’m certainly down with that. I want him to excitedly pick out a book from the library and read it on the ride home. So he about nearly flipped when we saw Nursery Rhymes in comic form. In Nursery Rhyme Comics different artists from Roz Chast and Gahan Wilson to slightly more obscure ilustrators offer  their take on various nursery rhymes, so each strip offers its own modern take on the classics. Wait till you see the Old Lady who lives in the shoe–my son couldn’t...

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Shel Silverstein rises again

I have no idea how missed the huge fact that a new book from Shel Silverstein was released a few weeks ago, especially considering he’s my favorite modern children’s author of all time. But my mother knew. And when I opened the mysterious Amazon package that arrived from her this week, and saw the telltale Shel Silverstein line-drawing on the cover, I gasped with the excitement of a kid discovering a puppy under the tree at Christmas. Every Thing On It is a collection of unpublished poems and illustrations very much in the spirit of Where The Sidewalk Ends,...

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Mother Goose has gone green

Let’s be real: a lot of old-school nursery rhymes need some updating. Have you ever really listened to “Billy Boy?” (Hey, guy, she is a young thing and cannot leave her mother. Back off!) The world is simply a different place than when Mother Goose first started ruling the roost. So it makes perfect sense that new, tweaked versions of the rhymes would include lines about environmentalism–you know, a hickety-pickety free-range hen happily giving us her cage-free eggs instead of running away because she’s had enough of laying eggs for gentlemen. In The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One...

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Poems for new parents that even the sleep-deprived can enjoy.

I say we all need more poetry in our lives, but poetry so often seems to be one of those tricky things, like an exotic fruit. You enjoy it when you come across it, but it’s not part of your regular consumption, especially when you are a harried mom. Which is a shame, because that’s possibly when we need it most. I’ve just discovered a lovingly put-together, eclectic collection of poems that any literary parent will want to take a look at. Morning Song focuses on celebrating new life. In fact, Poems For New Parents is the subtitle, but really, the poems, songs and...

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