Guest Blogger

Poetry Paige

poetry 2013 movementIt’s National Poetry Month!  My favorite time of the year! During the month of April, I am known as “Poetry Paige.”   I visit over fifteen schools during the month of April with interactive silly and fun poems.  A typical poetry school visit ranges from one class at a time to six classes at a time or the whole school. I reach over 500 students in one day.  

I have a different theme each month.  This year it is all about pets!  A few of my past themes include, “Movement: Shimmy, Skip, Jump and Boogie,”  “Bug Poems: Buzz, Chirp, Swish and Flutter” and “Celebrate Outside Poems.”  What started out as a ten minute presentation when working at the New York Public Library, quickly turned into a twenty-twenty-five minute presentation when I started working at Deschutes Public Library ten years ago.  I focus on multiple elements of poetry including the Children’s Poet Laureate, three different poetry styles and where to find poetry books at 811.  I also visit individual classes or smaller groups with fifth to eighth graders.  During this time, we write HUGE group poems using all different styles from list poems with music to acrostic poems with student names.   poetry book 2013

I love asking the students what they think poetry is all about.  “It’s how you express your feelings.” “Poetry is silly” “Poems are short stories that you can share with friends.”  The responses are beautiful and I always wish I had recorded them.

Explore a few fun poetry ideas that I have tried in the past!

  1. Name that Animal!  Use two volunteers with a buzzer between them or have your whole group ready to guess.  Read the poem and let them guess what animal it is, by raising their hand and when you’re done reading the poem, everyone yells out the animal.  Use National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems that Squeak, Soar and Roar! Edited by J. Patrick Lewis. Read Mountain Gorilla by Janet S. Wong (one of my favorite poets) and  Porcupine by Rebecca Kai Dotlich.

  2. Throw the Dice!  My amazing library co-worker Jan, made me a HUGE felt dice that works great for poetry presentations when selecting a poem.   Each side has a different object or animal.   A volunteer from your audience throws the dice and if it lands on a Parrot, you read the parrot poem.   It is always fun to throw a huge colorful dice across the classroom or gym.

  3. Twist: Yoga Poems by Janet S. Wong is perfect for interacting.  Have two students join you while you read the poem, acting it out with yoga.   Try her poetry suitcase! It is excellent!   You could use a bag or anything that holds silly objects.

  4. Jack Prelutsky’s, Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face and Other Poems:  some of the best of Jack Prelutsky is perfect for teachers.   Ask four teachers to join you. Read the poem Forty Performing Bananas.  Let them know they will be performing as bananas in various dances.   Bonus! There is a poetry activity guide in each section of the book.

  5. With a large group, have everyone stand up.  Talk about how sometimes poems use the same word over and over again.   Read the poem, A Pizza the Size of the Sun.  Most of your group will have heard this poem and will recite it with you.  Have students sit down or stand up each time they hear the word, PIZZA!  It is funny to count how many times Prelutsky uses the word PIZZA!  Emphasize he was our first Children’s Poet Laureate.

Before I sign out, J. Patrick Lewis is the Children’s Poet Laureate this year!  Check out his website at and one of his new poetry books, World Rat Day: Poems about Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of!   You will find the perfect Common Core poetry book with, The Poetry Friday Anthology: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core, by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.   An amazing poetry treat!  You will find more poetry book lists at and  Find more information about children’s poets and poetry at The Poetry Foundation.

Please email me for more poetry ideas at   April is National Poetry Month!  How are you celebrating?


PAIGE PHOTOPaige Bentley-Flannery is a Children’s/Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library.  “Poetry Paige” has been shouting out words and reading silly poems for over ten years.  Her poetry workshops and programs at library and teacher conferences have been presented from Alaska to Washington State to hundreds of teachers and librarians.

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  1. Sylvia Vardell

    Hi, Paige, thanks so much for the shout-out for our POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY– and for all the great work you are doing to connect kids and poems! Happy National Poetry Month to you, too– Sylvia

  2. Janet Wong

    What a great post–jam-packed with so many terrific ideas and resources! Thank you for including my work in the company of books by Jack Prelutsky and J. Patrick Lewis. WORLD RAT DAY is perfect for anyone who wants to celebrate “Bat Appreciation Day” (April 17)–and I’m certain that illustrator Anna Raff is going to be a STAR. As for your suggestion to have teachers dance around like bananas: well, how could anyone NOT love-love-LOVE poetry after seeing THAT!? Your ideas are always so much fun, Paige!

  3. J. Patrick Lewis

    Hello, Poetry Paige! What a marvelous blog. It’s always so invigorating, exciting, rewarding, and on and on, to see what teachers, librarians, and SCHOOL VISITORS
    do to promote poetry. You are a credit to your name, my dear. I think I speak for all ch. poets when I say, break and leg and mend a mind.
    A bright and bilifitastical April to you!
    Cheers, Pat

  4. Paige Bentley-Flannery

    Thank you Pat! Over 6,000 children in Deschutes County are reading your books! We are having fun. Thank you again for your comment.
    Poetry Paige

    Thank you Janet! Your Mountain Gorilla poem is a HUGE hit this month. And the list goes on with the Common Core and poetry…

    Sylvia, thank you! You are an amazing inspiration…go poetry!

  5. Bridget R. Wilson

    Thank you for sharing these great ideas, Paige! I look forward to incorporating them into my own poetry bag of tricks.

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