Established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets, attention during National Poetry Month is focused on the accomplishments and contributions of American poets. The month-long event is celebrated mainly by educational institutions, libraries, bookstores, and nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and Canada. Activities include poetry readings and festivals, displays and exhibits, workshops and events and activities meant to help Americans of all ages learn more about poetry and its role in modern society.
Why was April chosen for National Poetry Month?
In coordination with poets, booksellers, librarians, and teachers, the Academy chose a month when poetry could be celebrated with the highest level of participation. Inspired by the successful celebrations of Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March), and on the advice of teachers and librarians, April seemed the best time within the year to turn attention toward the art of poetry—in an ultimate effort to encourage poetry readership year-round.
What are the goals of National Poetry Month?
The goals of National Poetry Month are to:
• Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
• Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
• Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
• Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
• Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
• Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
• Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry
How does the Academy celebrate National Poetry Month?
• Posters: Each year the Academy creates and distributes nearly 200,000 official NPM posters, which are mailed for free to teachers, librarians, and booksellers nationwide.
• Events: The Academy presents several special events and readings in April, including our star-studded annual Poetry & The Creative Mind.
• Publicity: To ensure that poetry gains national attention in the media each April, the Academy sends press releases to editors and journalists across the country. As a result, thousands of articles about poetry appear in newspapers, magazines, and online media outlets. The Academy also acts as the official clearing house for news and information about National Poetry Month.
• Inspiration & Guidance: The Academy offers a plethora of practical resources for celebrating NPM, including tips for teaching poetry during April, creating a poetry book display in your bookstore or library, presenting a poetry reading or contest, and much more.
What can I do to celebrate NPM? There are thousands of ways to celebrate. We’ve developed a list of 30 to get you started—one for every day in April.
Celebrating National Poetry Month in the classroom is easy. See the List feature below for How-to ideas. Outside the classroom, celebrating is also easy.
At home, read poems aloud to yourself or others. Listen to the rhythm of the words. Inspect the rhyming features. Are there any? Some poems do not rhyme. Find poems of different types. Some are short and funny. Others tell historic tales, love stories, glorify nature, etc.
Introduce children to poetry through pictures. Have the child write an acrostic about the picture.
Set poems to music. Look up information about famous poets. Find out why they wrote their poems. Research any local poets. Perhaps a visit to one would be fun.
Follow all the news about Pets, Education and Child Health by subscribing to my articles. Click on the “Subscribe” button, or here: http://tapeunit.com/user-bmader.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Read poems, of course! Saturate your classroom with poetry. Write it on the wall (you can buy posters emblazoned with poems, or write them yourself on large sheets of butcher paper). Stock your classroom library with books of poetry checked out from your local library. Read poetry aloud to your students. Discuss with them how poems make you feel, and how poems differ from stories.
Learn how to publish your poetry.
Create poetry books. Once the students have the hang of writing poetry, combine their best poems into individual anthologies. If you have a parent volunteer, ask her to type up the poems. For example, each student may have written a haiku, a simile poem, a name poem and maybe a piece of free verse over the course of 2 weeks. Once the volunteer has typed up all of the poems, pass them back to the students. Have them illustrate their poems, then bind them into a book.
Try writing a poem.
Write poetry. For beginners, the best way to write poetry is together as a class. Choose a poem form (you can find a list of popular ones in Resources) and work together to compose a poem. Write it on the board or, better yet, a large sheet of butcher paper. Then display it in your classroom.
Find out about children’s poets.
Learn about poets. Two popular children’s poets are Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Silverstein has a wonderful interactive website that you can explore with your students, either in a computer lab or by projecting your computer onto a TV–or, better yet, a Smart Board. Jack Prelutsky also has a terrific website. Both sites feature special kids’ areas, and also contain information about the poet and ideas for teachers and parents.
Poetry is read at important events.
Richard Blanco became the fifth poet to read at a Presidential inauguration today. Advance publicity about the choice of Blanco emphasized that he was the youngest, first Latino, openly gay poet to act as an inaugural poet. The new poem he wrote for the occasion, “One Today,” garnered warm words from President Obama.
Host a poetry slam. Invite the parents, another class or even your administrator to your classroom. Have each student read aloud from her book of poetry in front of the classroom, with great drama and expression. To make the event extra special, provide snacks for the students and their guests.
Explore various styles of poetry.
An acrostic is a great way to write a first poem. Start each line with a letter from the topic. Any topic or picture will inspire a budding poet.