2018 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup

Happy April and Happy National Poetry Month!

It’s time once again to read, write, share, and simply indulge your love for poetry in every way.

Need some ideas? Visit poets.org for the full scoop on how you can participate, including 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day (April 26, 2018), Poem-a-Day, and especially for students and teachers, the Dear Poet Project. Check the state-by-state listings to find poetry-related events near you.

Now, here’s a list of what some kidlit bloggers are doing. If you’re also celebrating Poetry Month with a special project or blog event, or know of anyone else who is, please leave a comment here or email me: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, so I can add the information to this Roundup. Thanks, and have a beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, productive, and memorable April!



🌺 Hooray, it’s Progressive Poem time again! Irene Latham at Live Your Poem has recruited 30 poets for her seventh(!) annual Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. This is a wonderful community writing project where a poem travels daily from blog to blog, with each host adding a new line. Elizabeth Steinglass will kick things off with the first line of this year’s children’s poem on April 1. Here’s the full schedule of participating bloggers:



2 Jane at Raincity Librarian
4 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
Jan at bookseedstudio
6 Irene at Live Your Poem
7 Linda at TeacherDance
Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
12 Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink
13 Linda at A Word Edgewise
15 Donna at Mainely Write
16 Sarah at Sarah Grace Tuttle
18 Christie at Wondering and Wandering
19 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
20 Linda at Write Time
21 April at Teaching Authors
23 Amy at The Poem Farm
24 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
28 Kat at Kat’s Whiskers
30 Doraine at Dori Reads


🌼 Irene Latham at Live Your Poem will also be featuring ARTSPEAK!: Harlem Renaissance. This year’s poem-a-day project was inspired by Nikki Grimes’s ONE LAST WORD. Irene will be writing ekphrastic poems in response to some of the paintings created by Harlem Renaissance artists.


🌷 Renee LaTulippe will be hosting Community Collections at No Water River:

This year I asked 31 poets and verse novelists to contribute a poem and a poetry prompt. The idea is to encourage readers to write their own poems (or prose passages) in response to the daily prompts; and then add those responses to the appropriate blog post. By the end of April, then, we’ll have 31 themed poetry collections written by readers.  

Check out the complete calendar of guest poets. Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle will kick things off today, March 30!


🦖 Over at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme, Matt Forrest Esenwine will be hosting another month-long Poetry Cubed contest.  Entrants must use the three images he’s provided as inspiration for an original poem. Any poetic form is fine, rhyming or not — the only requirement is that all three images must be referenced in the poem. The prize this year will be a signed copy of the new picture book he’s co-authored with Deborah Bruss, Don’t Ask a Dinosaur.

Matt will also feature interviews with Don’t Ask a Dinosaur illustrator Louie Chin, and poet Amy Losak regarding H is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A-Z, which contains poems written by her late mother Sydell Rosenberg.


🌼 From Michelle H. Barnes at Today’s Little Ditty:

In celebration of Today’s Little Ditty’s 5th birthday, we’ve invited dinosaurs to the party! Featuring Deborah Bruss and Matt Forrest Esenwine, authors of Don’t Ask a Dinosaur, and a party game ditty challenge that’s bound to make you roar with laughter. The festivities begin on Friday, April 6th.


💐 Jone MacCulloch will be sharing student poetry daily at Check It Out. She hopes to feature students reciting their poetry on Fridays.

She’s also once again doing her annual Poetry Postcard Project, where Silver Star ES students send out illustrated poetry postcards to anyone requesting them. Sign up HERE if you’d like to receive one. This is a wonderful project — ten years running so far — I always enjoy receiving my postcard each April.


📷 At her personal blog DeoWriter, Jone MacCulloch will be sharing haiku and haiga inspired by her own photographs.


🤓 A “Poetry is for Everyone” Twitter Chat will be held on April 9th, 8 pm EST (#NYEDChat combines with #WonderChat). @Wonderopolis #poet friends, @Irene Latham, @Laura Purdie Salas, and @Charles Waters will be guest moderators with Carol Varsalona moderating for #NYEDChat and John MacLeod for Wonderopolis.



🎨 Diane Mayr at Random Noodling will be writing ekphrastic poems in April. She’s challenging herself to write a cherita every day based on paintings by female artists. *A cherita is a three-stanza poem that tells a story. The first stanza has one line that sets the scene, the second stanza has two lines, the third has three lines. Diane welcomes suggestions of “long dead female artists” or links to any of their public domain works which she could use as inspiration for her cheritas (leave a comment at her blog or email her).


🌺 JoAnn Early Macken will be posting a poem or poetry writing tip every day during April — and she’ll also be giving away a copy of her book Write a Poem Step by Step (Earlybird Press, 2012) each day!


🎨 Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche will also be writing ekphrastic poems for Poetry Month. She says, “I love art.  Art often gives me an entry point into a poem that I may not have written otherwise.  I find art digs deep into my soul.”


☀ Over at The Poem Farm, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s NPM Project is “1 Subject 30 Ways”:

This year at The Poem Farm, I will be writing a new poem every day about the constellation Orion. Every day I will highlight a different poetic technique, a technique used by poets and by writers of other genres as well. After all, the techniques of poets are the techniques of all writers. I will be using my Fall 2017 Heinemann book, POEMS ARE TEACHERS, to lead me as I write all April long.


🌼 At Beyond Literacy Link, Carol Varsalona will be unveiling her winter gallery of artistic expressions, “Winter Wonderland.” She will also be writing digital poems with a springtime theme, and will extend an invitation for her Spring Gallery later in the month.


🍅 Donna Smith at Mainely Write will be continuing her challenge to write a poem for each letter of the alphabet based on a Maine vanity license plate she’s found and taken a photo of since last April. She will attempt to write these poems using poetic forms beginning with their corresponding letters. These are a lot of fun as it’s interesting to see the vanity plates she’s collected and how she creates poems inspired by them. 🙂


Look for “30 Days, 30 Students, 30 Quotes, 30 Poems” at A Reading Year by Mary Lee Hahn. She will be writing personalized golden shovel poems based on quotes submitted by her 5th grade students, a.k.a. “The 2017-2018 5th Grade Hahn Squad.” She asked them to each share a quote they loved, and she will use them as her striking lines for the poems. Quite a challenge!


🌻 For a dose of daily inspiration, head over to Poetry for Children, where Sylvia Vardell will be posting her favorite quotes about poetry paired with powerful images (without commentary). Here’s a sample:


🌺 Linda Baie at TeacherDance will be doing a poem-a-day challenge:

My goal for Poetry Month: A haiku diary that may include other forms related to haiku, like haibun, haiga. monoku or renga. I have enjoyed studying about and writing in these forms in past Aprils and alongside other’s who’ve given a challenge in this form. And, I look forward to seeing what parts of this month I will choose to collect in a diary. I will also be connecting with others, writing for their challenges, too, along with other kinds of blog posts. 


🌿 At Michelle Kogan’s blog, look for original poems paired with gorgeous art on flora and fauna, sometimes outside, when Nature permits, sometimes outside when she doesn’t.


“If you truly want to know someone you should walk a mile in their shoes.”

👠 Mrs. Daley’s second grade class is doing a poetry challenge this month based on the above quote, called Take a Walk in Our Shoes. Each day during April, they will write and post a poem based on a different picture of shoes. These will sometimes be class poems, partner poems, small group poems, or individual poems. They invite readers to write their own shoe poems in the blog comments. This challenge was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Irene Latham and other poet mentors. Check in daily at Teaching Tales and Lit Love for all the fun.


🌺 Jena Benton will be sharing a poem and a picture from a picture book each day during April at her blog Of Tea and Mermaids. She will source picture books old and new for this project.


Over at My Juicy Little Universe, Heidi Mordhorst and her second grade class are writing a class poem during the month of April. Each day, one student will add 2 words to the poem. They will have had two turns each by the time the month is over — and, of course, a cool finished poem!





🍩 Here at Alphabet Soup, we’ll continue to serve up tasty poems and reviews of new poetry books with a couple of giveaways on Fridays during April. 🙂


🍪 Finally, don’t forget to check in with April’s Poetry Friday hosts to see what other bloggers are sharing in the kidlitosphere each week:

6    Amy at The Poem Farm
27  Irene at Live Your Poem

I’ll continue to update this Roundup throughout April, so do check back! For your convenience, a link to this Roundup can be found in the sidebar of this blog.

Wishing you a thoroughly nourishing, inspiring, productive, interesting, and enlightening Poetry Month!

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

lettuce celebrate easter with beatrix potter’s flopsy bunnies (+ 2 recipes!)

Spring is finally here and Easter’s coming up this weekend — which means it’s time for a little Beatrix Potter!

Always fun to reread her little Peter Rabbit books and play with the Beswick porcelain figurines that wait patiently all year in the butler’s pantry cupboard. Take us out, they say. Dust us off and take our picture!

Who will be in the spotlight this time?

Hmmmm. Last year we wrote about The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Most everyone knows Peter’s story and its sequel featuring Peter’s cousin Benjamin Bunny, who returns with him to Mr. McGregor’s garden to get Peter’s clothes back.

Potter followed that adventure with The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909), that’s about Benjamin and Peter all grown up. Benjamin is now married to Peter’s sister Flopsy and they have six children “generally called the ‘Flopsy Bunnies.'” We soon learn that lettuce will play a key role in this story. 🙂

It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is ‘soporific.’

I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.

They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!

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[review + giveaway] With My Hands: Poems About Making Things by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, Lou Fancher & Steve Johnson

Whether you like to draw, paint, write, sculpt, bake or carve, there’s nothing as magical, empowering, or satisfying as creating “something new that never was before.”

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things, written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson (Clarion Books, 2018), celebrates the joy of turning an idea into something real and tangible with your very own hands.

The 26 mostly rhyming poems cover everything from soap carving, knot-tying and origami, to making birdhouses, pinatas, toy parachutes, tie-dye shirts, leaf pictures and collages. The opening poem reveals the unique power and province of the maker (love the thumbprint art!):


I am making
something new
with my hands
my head
my heart.

That’s what makers do.

A maker starts with
an empty space
and stuff.

A maker
through mistakes.
A maker
must be tough.

A maker is
a tinkerer.
A maker will

A maker creates
something new

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hooked on trevor smith’s crochet sculptures

Australian textile artist Trevor Smith learned how to crochet from his mother when he was just a child. His first projects were baby blankets for family friends and doll clothes for his younger cousins.

He’s been experimenting and perfecting all manner of applications ever since, recently creating imaginative tea cosies, retro appliances, and platters of colorful food. Most of the pieces shown in this post were part of a large-scale exhibition held at the Michael Reid Gallery in Sydney last year. It was called “Cocktail Hour” — retro-domestic bliss with a touch of humor.

What’s especially impressive about Trevor’s work is that he doesn’t use any patterns or make sketches ahead of time. He’ll look at images of what he wants to make online and then proceed with a plan of what he wants to do in his head.

For his tea cosies, he’ll first crochet a traditional cover for the base, then build a 3D form out of foam or wire for whatever animal, person or object he wants to add, and then crochet a cover for it. Finally, he’ll crochet any other loose accessories or finishing details to sew on later.

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[review + giveaway] When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon and Garfunkel by G. Neri and David Litchfield

When it comes to Simon and Garfunkel, three things stand out in my memory: hearing “Homeward Bound” for the first time in a soundproof studio, waiting hours for them to arrive at the airport, and attending their 1968 concert in Honolulu.

I was a big S&G fan back in the day, belonged to a fan club whose sole purpose was to meet every rock group that performed in Hawai’i. We haunted airports and hotel lobbies, camped out overnight to score concert tickets, and sometimes got to meet our idols up close and personal at special events.

The Simon and Garfunkel concert remains in the top 5 of all shows attended in my lifetime. It still stands up against today’s large-venue extravaganzas with the big screens, sophisticated sound systems and light shows. There was just something pure, pristine and utterly transformative about those two voices and acoustic guitar. No need for any high tech razzle dazzle when you have good songs and soul-stirring, transcendent harmony.

When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon and Garfunkel, a fab new picture book biography for middle grade readers by G. Neri and David Litchfield (Candlewick, 2018), opens with the famous Central Park reunion concert in September 1981.

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