Poems are Teachers (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater)

When you contemplate "teaching poetry," what feelings does that evoke for you? Excitement? Dread? Guilt? 

Are you excited to share your love of all things poetry with your kids? Or did you never quite "get poetry" yourself and feel completely daunted about where to start?

If you are anything like me, you have very good intentions of adding poetry to your homeschool, but it may not be an area you feel completely comfortable with so it keeps getting put on the back burner. Or, you may be completely comfortable sharing poetry with your kids, but may be less sure how poetry can be used to inform their larger writing. 

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You're in luck! Amy Ludgwig VanDerwarter has shared with us an excerpt from her book, Poems are Teachers: How Studying Poetry Strengthens Writing in All Genres and it is amazing! 

Similar to how The Arrow helps demystify discussing literature with our kids, Poems are Teachers is chock full of concrete ideas for discussing poetry and how to use it to better understand writing in all forms. I truly wish this book had been around when my boys were younger! 

From the introduction:

Poems Are Teachers is a book about learning how to write well by studying poems. Writers of all genres must have ideas, must organize these thoughts, must hammer interesting phrases together, must begin and end, must title. Poets arrange words and phrases just as prose writers do, simply in tighter spaces. In the tight space of poetry, readers can identify writing techniques after reading one page, not thirty pages. We notice how a poet writes with sensory imagery, and the very next morning we open the newspaper to find an opinion columnist using this same technique. Same tool, different genre. Beginning with poems, we can teach students to recognize craft and deepen their understandings of it across genres and beyond specific assignments.

Try It Yourself!

In this reading, we learn how to use poetry to help kids understand how writers structure text. We are given a poem, then insight from the poet themselves, followed by an explanation of how to we can use this information to help kids create their own writing. The techniques include:

  • Tell a story
  • Weave back and forth to compare and contrast
  • Build two sides to compare and contrast
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Give directions

Take a look and see what you think. Then pick one and give it a try with your kids!

I'll leave you with the following thought from the reading:

Depending on your needs and interests, there are many ways you might choose to use this resource, but whichever you choose, please enjoy the poems first. Read aloud together. Read quietly. Sketch or paint a line from a poem. Act out a poem. Play with words and reread. Share a poem each morning or week, collecting favorite lines. Make time to read and fall in love with texts—before you study craft. See, when we as readers care about the words of a poem, we will be interested in learning how the writer moved us. We must fall in love first.

Ready to fall in love?


Download Poems Are Teachers - Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

Posted April 1st, 2018
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