Summer Reading–Poetry

I thought I’d try something different today in honor of our family’s last Friday of summer vacation. Like many of you I’m a regular at our local library but over the summer, we go there A LOT. We borrow books of all kinds for our readers of various ages and interests, but I always check out a poetry book or two. I thought today I might share some of our favorite poetry books of the summer.





Follow, Follow

Marilyn Singer is clearly a genius for inventing the reverso. These clever poems work in two directions—down and up.  The form works brilliantly for providing two different points of view on the same subject—for example, the tortoise and the hare thinking about their race, or the Emperor’s and his subjects’ thoughts about the Emperor’s new suit. They also work well when a single character is wavering between two points of view, for example when the Little Mermaid considers leaving the sea for love, or not. Follow, Follow is Singer’s second book of reverso poems after Mirror, Mirror.







Danitra Brown, Class Clown

Danitra Brown, Class Clown is Nikki Grimes’ third book about Danitra and her friend Zuri. (The first two are Meet Danitra Brown and Danitra Brown Leaves Town.) I checked this one out of the library last week because the collection begins with going back to school and the usual worries about new teachers, new rooms, and new, harder work.  What I love most about all three books is that the kids are real with real issues that all kids can relate to. These girls talk in class and get separated. These girls pass notes that get intercepted. These girls help one another through the rough spots—like math problems and stomachaches.  The poems also have a very natural rhythm and rhyme that make them easy and enjoyable to read out loud.










Gone Fishing

This book attracted my attention because it’s a novel in verse for younger readers. Most of the novels in verse that I’m familiar with are for older readers. This book tells the tale of a boy who’s supposed to go fishing with his dad but ends up going fishing with his dad AND his little sister!  Tamera Will Wissinger uses a variety of forms to describe the ups and downs of the day but it was the sibling dynamics that really captured our attention.







If I Were in Charge of the World

We’ve had this collection by Judith Viorst for years but it jumped back off the shelf this summer. I’m not sure what it says about our frames of mind, but we particularly enjoyed the section titled “Wicked Thoughts.” I think it was a relief to all of us to know that we all have them. Somehow I think it’s easier to be our best selves when we admit we don’t always want to be.


What books of poetry did you and yours enjoy this summer?


For more Poetry Friday visit A Teaching Life.

13 replies
  1. Laura Shovan
    Laura Shovan says:

    Great recommendations, Liz. I’m putting Follow, Follow (*loved* Mirror, Mirror) on my TBR list, also the Danitra Brown books. I loved Holly Thompson’s YA novel in verse “The Language Inside” this summer.

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      I will have to look for it. I was lucky enough to go to a revision workshop conducted by Holly Thompson. It was very concrete and helpful.

  2. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    I didn’t realize the Danitra books were in verse, Liz. I love Follow, Follow, and need to find Gone Fishing, too. So many verse novels are coming out. I just read Hidden by Helen Frost-enjoyed it very much. Going to the library is such a treasure – hunt!

  3. Myra GB
    Myra GB says:

    Hi Liz, I enjoyed Mirror Mirror so I am sure that I would love Follow Follow as well. I love novels-in-verse but haven’t heard of Gone Fishing yet, will check that out. I haven’t read any of Judith Viorst’s books yet, I think I just might have to make a trip to the library to remedy that. Will be on the lookout for “If I Were in Charge of the World.”

  4. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
    Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    Thanks for the recommendations, Liz! I also enjoyed Tamera’s GONE FISHING over the summer, and also Paul Janeczko’s THE PLACE MY WORDS ARE LOOKING FOR and POETRY FROM A TO Z. Like the Viorst, those last two are oldies but goodies.

  5. bjleepoet
    bjleepoet says:

    Sounds like some good reading this summer, Liz! I love Marilyn Singer’s work (I don’t know how she does it!) and Gone Fishing sounds like one I’d be interested in reading. I’ve been enjoying Ted Hughes’ children’s poetry. I surprised to see he wrote scads of it!


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