Book and Gift Pairings for the Holidays

Books make great gifts any time of year. But what's even better? Books paired with a items meant to extend the enjoyment of the story! This Read, Discuss, Do! Gift Guide pairs some of our favorite books with other gifts meant to help extend the fun of the story beyond the last page and maybe even encourage some new experiences. We hope you find some good ideas for readers and doers in your life on this list. For Babies and Toddlers Hey, Bruce! by Ryan T. Higgins. Pair this super fun (and funny) interactive picture book with a black bear plush, such as this First and Main 10-inch Bear .  Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance  by Rachel Burk and illustrated by Alyssa De Asis, a book that encourages imaginative play. Pair this book with a musical gift such as a music box or instrument. Or maybe a dance costume! More books for active babies and toddlers For Little Makers The Thingity-Jig by Kathleen Doherty and illustrated by Kristyna Litten will be a sure hit with lit

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