Friday, February 24, 2012

Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year--A Book by Janet Wong

2012 is a big election year. Television news programs are filled with reports and discussions about the state of this country, the incumbent President, Republican presidential candidates and their debates, state primaries, caucuses, and straw polls. Nearly every day, we’re informed about new survey polls and which candidate seems to be most popular with voters.
All these election year subjects make for excellent classroom discussions in the months prior to the November elections. Wouldn’t it be great for teachers to have a book of poems that could spark those discussions?
I’m happy to announce that my good friend Janet Wong, a well-known children’s author and award-winning poet, has just published a collection of poems titled Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year.

In her Author’s Note, Wong talks of how our civil liberties “give us voice.” We have freedom of speech in this country. We can speak out. We can demonstrate. We can picket.

Following is a description of Janet’s book that was posted on the website of Richard C. Owen Publishers.

This limited-edition paperback version of Janet Wong's Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year features 20 political poems for young people about a wide variety of topics, including kids' rights as voters, the election process, presidential debates, and more.

Many of the poems are humorous and can be shared with children as young as second grade, while still being engaging for adults and teens.

An author's note urges readers to become politically aware and involved in their communities, and A Voter's Journal at the end of the book will inspire discussion and fun and meaningful writing about civic issues.

Some would say that with our freedoms comes a responsibility to respect the thoughts and speech of others—and to respect our differences. Declaration of Interdependence opens with a poem titled Liberty that touches on that:

I pledge acceptance
of the views,
so different,
that make us America

To listen, to look,
to think, and to learn

One people
sharing the earth
for liberty
and justice
for all.

Our students should learn about our Constitution and the Bill of Rights in school. Here’s Janet’s humorous poem on that subject:

When the teacher
asked about the Bill of Rights
my friend said:

Is that when
you get charged
for Free speech?

Here is a clever poem to introduce a discussion on primaries and caucuses and their differences using analogies that children can relate to:

Voting in a primary
is a multiple choice test—
simple subtraction
and process of elimination.
Shhhh! No talking!

Voting at a caucus
is a math contest
with a lot of word problems.
Convince the others
you know the answer.

The back matter of the book includes A Voter’s Journal and Discussion Guide. It provides some excellent ideas for activities and discussions. Here is an example:

Ask your grandparents, parents, another family member, or neighbor about an election that was important to them.

Be sure to visit TheDeclaration of Interdependence Blog--a community dedicated to exploring topics raised in DECLARATION OF INTERDEPENDENCE: Poems for an Election Year.

NOTE: Richard C. Owen Publishers will send you a free copy of The Declaration of Interdependence if you purchase a copy of its book Before It Wriggles—Janet Wong’s autobiography!

 Click here to find out more about the free book offer—which is good until the end of February.


I have five copies of Janet Wong’s Declaration of Interdependence to give away. All you need to do to qualify for the book giveaway is to leave a comment at this post. I’ll put the names of everyone who posts a comment in a hat and draw the five winners next Friday.

Jone is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup at Check It Out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Book and a Chair: An Original Poem for My Granddaughter

Many years ago, I wrote a poem titled A Book and a Chair about reading to my daughter when she was little. I’ve posted the poem at Wild Rose Reader before. Here it is once again


A book and chair
Are nice to share
When the edges of day
Are melting away
Into the night.

A book and a chair
Are nice to share—
Touching and talking,
Reading and rocking
Into the night.

I so enjoyed reading to my Sara when she sat on my lap on the red-cushioned rocking chair in my bedroom before I put her to sleep at night.
I think reading to young children is of the greatest import. That’s why I gave my daughters dozens of books for her baby shower last May. You can see pictures of some of those board books, poetry books, and pictures books at the following post: A Baby Shower & Everywhere Books!

Two of my favorite board books to read to Julia:
I  have so much fun reading to my granddaughter Julia Anna now.
She is six months old--and loves to chew on her books.

Here she is chewing on Jamberry:

Recently, my daughter snapped a picture of me reading to Julia before she headed off to work one morning. Julia and I were reading Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes.
(Don't you love us both wearing polks dot pajamas?)
The picture inspired me to write another “A Book and a Chair” poem:

A Book and a Chair
(For Julia)
A book and a chair
Are nice to share
When dawn wakes the sun
And morning’s begun.

A book and a chair
Are nice to share
When I am with you
And the day is brand new.

Laura Salas has the Poetry Friday Roundup at Writing the World for Kids.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fossil Forest: An Original Poem about the Petrified Forest

I'm sorry that I haven’t been posting much lately. I’ve been extremely busy taking care of my granddaughter Julia—who will be six months old on Monday. Although I’m really tired when I return home from my daughter’s on Thursday evenings, I so enjoy spending half the week with my first grandchild and watching her grow and change. She is now sitting up…and chewing on everything—including all the board books that I read to her.

I have also been busy doing revisions on my Things to Do poetry collection that will be published by Chronicle books. (I wrote about the sale of my manuscript here.)

I have two more manuscripts that I’ve gotten back to work on lately. One is a collection of animal mask poems about little creatures that live near us or are familiar to most children—including frogs, earthworms, butterflies, crickets, honeybees, termites, spiders, and snails. The other collection is tentatively titled Docile Fossil. It includes poems about extinct animals, fossils, the La Brea Tar Pits, the coelacanth—a fish that was thought to be extinct for millions of years—and the Loch Ness monster. I’m posting a poem today about the Petrified Forest that I wrote for the collection. I’m not sure it works—or that it belongs in Docile Fossil. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the poem.

Fossil Forest: A Poem about the Petrified Forest

This landscape of logs
Seems desolate, drear.
A coniferous forest
Once flourished right here—
A forest of trees
So lofty and high
The tips of their crowns
Touched clouds in the sky.

Fallen trees turned to quartz,
Became mineralized, hard—
(Not at all like the trees
That grow in your yard.)
Don’t knock on this wood…
On a trunk,
On a bough.
You just might break your hand—
It’s all petrified now.

The Petrified Forest (National Park Service website)
Photo courtesy of Moondigger/Wikipedia


Karissa has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Iris Chronicles.

Over at Blue Rose Girls, I have a post about Occupy Writers that includes a poem written by Alice Walker titled The World We Want Is Us.