Illustrated by Various
For ages 6+
After very much enjoying the first anthology of themed poetry in this series 'Courage in a Poem', which published in 2022, I couldn't wait for 'My Heart is a Poem'! With its beautiful cover artwork design featuring a die-cut character on the front, 'bejewelled' with the names of all the creators from all around the world who have contributed to this book.
We are so lucky here in the UK to be blessed with a number of quality children's publishers who are so dedicated and passionate about what they do, and Little Tiger is one of them. I make sure that at least once a term I introduce a new poetry book to the children at book club. These bite-size journeys through emotion, narrative and shared experience are sometimes the perfect solution to engage a mostly lively young group of 5-7 year olds. We are free and able to stop and start, talk about the poems, after and in-between. Sometimes the children feel so enthused by the poems that they get up and start to mimic the actions in the poem, expressing themselves freely, without concern for being told to sit down and be quiet (well, up until a point, of course).
Today's book club choice felt entirely appropriate as here in the UK it is Children's Mental Health Week.
About the book
'My Heart is a Poem' explores a plethora of feelings, of which we can all associate with, young or old-er. There are poems about laughter, sadness, anger, embarrassment, joy, love, and more. As I sat reading the poetry in the days running up to book club, I must share with you all that a fair few of the poems gave me goosebumps and caused me to feel quite emotional.
The children were particularly lively this morning... some were about to head out for a school trip (mega exciting) and some were enjoying a special home-clothes day at school. They also spied a rather large bowl of fidgets and a new basket of soft toys in the room, and so almost all my 'shepherdessing' skillsets were required to keep us on track to read this gorgeous poetry and enjoy an activity before heading into the first lesson of the day!
I decided to try to bring everyone together by asking "who likes homework?" This did the trick and while one child gushed about their love of doing extra work at home in the afternoons, others were almost spitting about having to do anything as preposterous as homework outside of school... So, I grinned to myself then read the superbly fitting poem by Jack Prelutsky entitled 'Homework! Oh, Homework!' I could almost read their minds... "can you really express out loud that you hate homework and that it stinks?" One child happened to be playing with a lion puppet, hence much wrestling took place for the rest of the poem with the panda puppet sitting next to her the 'homework' substitute.
I also couldn't wait to share the crowd-participation-esq poem, 'The Unspeakable Feeling', all about embarrassment. This is fantastic fun! Poet, Kate Wakeling, has very cleverly talked about how embarrassment feels (physically and mentally), where it sits on a scale with other emotions, and how unpredictable it can be. Within the poem are lots of blanks, sections of the prose that are just lines that the reader (and listeners) are able to interact with and shout out the scenarios. Goodness me, we had things happening to teachers, some strange mishap stories about doing outdoors wee-wees, shoes falling off, and of course being Year 1s and 2s, the embarrassing moments storytelling eventually descended into embarrassing things involving poo. Time to move on...!!
Next, it was time for the children to pick a feeling and I'd find the poem from the book to read it to them. They chose: anger. I turned to 'Stomp' by Nikki Grimes. A boy gets home and he's had a really bad day. He calms himself and turns to a journal to offload all the hurtful things that happened to him, and then returns to his power by choosing to choose the words that matter over those that don't. Only one child in the group had ever heard of writing down thoughts and feelings, or using a diary or journal. I felt it had been a useful opportunity to let them know what a valuable tool journaling is in helping to sort out your feelings.
I would have loved to have read many more of the poems with the children, they are all such gems. The illustrations throughout the book are absolutely fantastic, filled with colour, character and sentiment. There is a poem for everyone within these pages, no matter where you are at in life, what you're going through, who you are or where you are. That's what I love about it.
As an aside... I happened to pop for a cafe catchup with two of my girlfriends after the school run yesterday afternoon and I couldn't resist taking them this book to share with them. I don't normally foist my kids books on my friends, unless it's to support them with book choices for their children... however, I just simply had to get them to read 'Homework! Oh Homework!', 'Sadness', and 'Ache' especially... and they both ordered the book on the spot from my online store. I also cannot wait to read the poems particularly with my 7yo son. He has terrible sleep habits and 'How to Fall Asleep' is AMAZING!!!!!! Ahhh, the power of poetry...
At the end of the book you'll find the last pages featuring photos and short biographies about all the poets.
If you scroll down a bit you'll find out about my activity based on the book, available to download for FREE; and a list of all the poets and illustrators who created this book with Little Tiger (+ an affiliate purchase link).
Here are a couple of the poems from 'My Heart is a Poem' for you to sample...
Bearing in mind it's Children's Mental Health Week, I thought that I'd weave this into my activity this week. I'll be cutting out all the children's creations and joining them together for a school display, hopefully in the library or the wellbeing room where we do our book club. Can't wait to work on it over half term and take it in to show them. They're really excited about it! I hope you enjoy this book and my FREE activity too.
Powerful poetry from:
Naomi Shihab Nye
Awe-inspiring artwork from:
children's mental health week
Grab a copy
Buy here through my affiliate link at Bookshop.org or purchase from your local independent bookshop...
Publication date: 2 February 2023
Also available in this series:
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