>Trying Not to Preach

April is Poetry Month so yesterday I read poems to the third graders: Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams. I read the Red Wheel Barrow poem and I read the beginning of Sharon Creech’s novel, Love That Dog, about a boy who is forced to read the wheel barrow poem. Sometimes I look at the kids, sitting on the floor around me, and I think of the world we are giving them– how can it not break your heart? So much depends on a red wheel barrow and so much depends on them. I shut the book and talked about poetry and the importance of words. I told them that maybe, because we have so many books, it’s easy to forget that they are important. I talked about the fact that it used to be illegal to teach slaves to read, and that’s because reading makes us powerful. I talked about a country (the old Soviet Union) where, when a new book of poetry came out, people stood in lines that reached down the block to get a copy. I told them that there a country where, when a poet published a new book of poems, the government had an emergency meeting, in order to decide what to do about it. That poet was Marmoud Darwish. Usually I try not to preach to the kids. Much of the time, I read them funny books—they especially like Dav Pilkey and Jon Scieszka— but sometimes I can’t help myself.
I was glad to see that when it was time to check out books, some of them chose poetry.

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