Ten Reason Your Kids Should Participate in a Summer Reading Program

by Rebecca J. Gomez When my kids were young, summer reading programs were a sure thing. For the most part, my children were avid readers, especially my girls. A summer reading program wasn't necessary to encourage them to read, but we participated because it was a fun addition to summer. And the free pizza, books, and water park tickets definitely didn't hurt! There are lots of reasons to participate in a summer reading program or challenge, and here are ten of them: 1. Many summer reading programs offer prizes. And while we all know that reading is its own reward, some kids haven't figured that out yet. For those kids, a prize is just the incentive they need to stick their noses in a book now and then over the summer. 2. It's a fun way to reward those kids who will be reading no matter what! 3. For some families, trips to the library may help break up summer monotony.  4. Summer reading programs promote reading together as a family, especially for those with very young

Parent and Child Poetry Challenge: Shape Poems

by Rebecca J. Gomez

The Poetry Challenge continues this week with shape poems, also called concrete poems. A shape poem, like a diamante poem, has a visual element that sets it apart from other forms of poetry. It is easily recognizable by its shape! A diamante is in the shape of a diamond. A shape poem is formatted in the shape of its subject, or in some cases, a shape that represents its subject.

A book of concrete poetry that you may want to look for is WET CEMENT: A MIX OF CONCRETE POEMS by Bob Raczka. You can also see this post about concrete poetry from last year's Poetry Month celebration.

The only real "rule" about writing a shape poem is that the poem takes the shape of what you're writing about. Some shape poems are basically lists of words that describe the subject, often using repetition, like in The Apple by S. C. Riggs. Shape poems are usually full of descriptive language and imagery, and they can also rhyme (but they often don't)!

Here's an example of a rhyming concrete poem by Rebecca J. Gomez:

To write your own shape poem, try these steps:

  1. Choose your subject. Start with something simple that has an easily recognizable shape. Maybe a type of animal, a cloud, or a flower. 
  2. Draw a basic outline of your shape. 
  3. On a separate paper, brainstorm words and phrases that you might use to describe your subject.
  4. Write a rough draft of your poem.
  5. Once you're pleased with the words of your poem, write it out inside the shape you drew earlier, so that the words take the shape of your drawing. Another option is to use the words as the outline of your drawing (using tracing paper can be helpful for this).
Here's an example of a poem in which the words form the outline of the shape, by my daughter Julia:

It may take a few tries to get your poem to "shape up" nicely. But keep at it, and remember to have fun! Remember to share your poems on social media using the hashtag #RDDPoetryChallenge or email them to us at readdiscussdo@gmail.com.