Every night my lizard slithers
Down from his plastic tree.
He crawls in his log and rests
His head and goes to bed like me.

(c) 2013, Elizabeth Steinglass, all rights reserved


This week my favorite book of children’s poetry is Surprises, an early reader, poetry anthology edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. The poems included are perfect examples of the kind of children’s poems I love. The subject matter is kid-friendly and kid-interesting. The language is simple and easy to understand, while also being rhythmic, rhyming and surprising. Only some of the poems are funny, but they all have a punch-line that makes you laugh or sigh or tilt your head to reconsider something from a different angle. I also love that the book is small, easy to hold, easy to afford, and easy to read and reread.

The first poem in the collection is “Plans,” a poem about a child’s someday cats by Maxine Kumin. What really struck me about this poem was the enjambment. Yes, the enjambment. It’s a four-line poem and at the end of each line the content just keeps going, giving the poem a lovely flow and momentum. The enjambment also provides a refreshing contrast to the many children’s poems that have end stops at the end of every line.

After reading and rereading Surprises and “Plans” all week, I gave myself an assignment—to write a kid-friendly, original animal poem using enjambment. Thus the poem above.

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16 replies
  1. Irene Latham
    Irene Latham says:

    Liz, what a great learning experience to work with a book and challenge yourself on a particular technique. And look, you accomplished your mission! Thanks for sharing. xo

  2. Laura Shovan
    Laura Shovan says:

    Hi, Liz. It’s great when a poet gives him or herself an assignment and winds up with something as great as this poem. A suggestion — what about capitalizing only the beginnings of sentences? The enjambment might be even stronger as “rests/ his head.” Just a thought!

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Thanks, Catherine. I hope you and your kids like the book. My 8 year-old son seems to like it quite a bit.

  3. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    I loved your poem, first, then saw what and why you wrote and liked it even more, Liz. I’m trying sometimes to write a few poems for children, and I need to work on it a lot! You’ve inspired me! Thanks for the book recommendation too.

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Thanks Linda and Michelle,
      I seem to have created a kind of self-study program without realizing it. I read (and reread and copy in my own writing) mentor texts, give myself assignments, and see what happens. I hope you enjoy the book. My 8 year old doesn’t pick up many poetry books on his own but this one he does.

  4. Myra GB
    Myra GB says:

    Hi Liz! Thanks so much for sharing Lee Bennett Hopkins’ book of poetry (he is an absolute favourite). Nice to know about enjambment. 🙂 I enjoyed this lizard poetry too. 🙂

  5. lsteinglass
    lsteinglass says:

    Hi Myra,
    My son likes the poetry in this anthology and the illustrations that go with them. There is a poem about a hamster in a pocket and the illustrations just show the pocket. My son loves seeing what the hamster is doing in there.

  6. Keri Collins Lewis
    Keri Collins Lewis says:

    Thanks for sharing your experiment with enjambment (such a satisfying word to say!). I think the lines slither down the page much like the lizard. I’ll have to check out this highly praised book for myself!


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