Poetry Challenge Week Four: Blackout Poems

 It’s week FOUR of the Weekly Poetry Challenge, and this week is all about blackout poems! A blackout poem is created by taking a block of text—like from a newspaper, magazine, or book—and “blacking out” everything except the words you want. Here’s a blackout poem I wrote: Created using the book MAKE BLACKOUT POETRY by John Carroll Read some black out poems! Here are some blackout poems by author Austin Kleon . Examples of student-created blackout poems . Check out this Pinterest board for more examples. Write a black out poem! When creating your blackout poem, you may to start with a pencil and circle or block around the words you want to keep for your poem. Then, once you’re happy with your poem use a sharpie to black out everything you don’t want. Blackout poetry is a great visual, but you can also type out your poem when you’re done to make it easier to read. Need a little help? Here’s a video by Austin Kleon on how he makes blackout poetry. If you or your kids write blackout poem

Taking Stock: Thoughts on Kitchens and BOOKS (of course!)

TAKING STOCK:  Thoughts on Kitchens and BOOKS (of course!) 

by Laura Sassi

We had our kitchen painted over the summer - including the cupboards, insides and all - so everything had to be taken out. It was a blessing, really, because the kitchen now not only looks brand new (in a vintage way), but the process of putting everything back afterwards forced me to pause and take stock of each and every item we had stored in the kitchen.  

I was amazed at what I found! There was this veggie brush that I thought I’d lost long ago. I discovered multiple graters and a nifty, interlocking knife, fork and spoon!  When putting things back, I thoughtfully placed items for better access to long-lost treasures. (My husband wants to pack the those tricolored utensils in his lunch bag, for example.)

All this re-organizing and re-discovering got me thinking about books old and new. Just as happened in my kitchen, I think there is great benefit to taking stock regularly of what books we and our kids are currently enjoying, what we have enjoyed in the past, and what what new directions we might want to explore. 

Looking back, I realize my kids and I did this organically when they were little -not in the kitchen- but on our weekly excursions to the library. 

Here’s how our typical weekly visit went. First, we’d gather the books from around the house. As we did so, they’d invariably ask if we had to return them all, or if they could keep a few a week longer. Others they seemed fine to part with, thus revealing their bookish tastes.

When we arrived at the library, they always wanted to be the ones to unload our book bag. Then the hunt for new books would begin.  First they’d each “take stock” of what was available on their favorite shelves. They’d choose a couple of those. Then I’d challenge them to dig a little deeper find something new and different.  

As part of this we’d explore different rows and parts of the children’s department to see what new treasures, or perhaps old forgotten favorites, we might discover. This is how my son discovered The Eyewitness Books, Traction Man by Mini Grey and, later, The Hardy Boys. It’s how my daughter discovered Stephanie Greene’s delightful Princess Posey series and how we all discovered one of Lyle the Crocodile author Bernard Waber’s lesser known titles, Do You See a Mouse? This last title became a repeat favorite at our house for several reading seasons.

The librarians at our town library were also good at “taking stock” of what my kids enjoyed, and almost every week when we arrived, they’d have set aside a couple of new books for them to consider. “We thought you might like this,” they’d smile, and most of the time they were right! They also always had on hand lists of books for us to peruse if we wanted.  

Recently, I saw something at a nearby library that I know my kids would have loved. It supports the goal of taking stock and then being open to exploring new books. I’m talking about book bundles. Have you seen them at your library? Engagingly displayed at children’s eye-level, they are pre-selected trios of books hand-picked by the librarians on a wonderful array of topics. And they are popular! Hooray for trying new books!

As we head into September, I hope you and your children are able to spend some time taking stock and then exploring the vast, varied and wonderful world of books. Happy reading!