Reading Road Trip: Construction Zone

Welcome to stop two on the Reading Road Trip! If you’re just joining us, be sure to download the roadmap so you can follow along. Also, sign up here for a chance to win a prize pack at the end of the summer! The reading road trip continues this week with a drive through a construction zone! Unlike construction zones in real life, which can slow us down or bring us to a full stop and add a lot of frustration to a journey, this construction zone is all about bringing a little construction-themed fun to the summer! So we hope you take some time this week to spend a little “building” time with your kids, reading books with a construction theme—whether that be books about building with blocks or bricks, toys or giant cranes. Continue reading for story time ideas and a construction themed reading list. Read : Books that fit the theme of “construction zone,” however you want to interpret it! FEATURED BOOK: Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus is a book about b

Explore Poetry with SINCE THE BABY CAME by Kathleen Long Bostrom

 We are excited to have guest post by Kathleen Long Bostrom, author of Since the Baby Came: A Sibling’s Learning-to-Love Story in 16 Poems, talking about the process of writing the book and sharing some ideas for discussing and poetry writing!

Read: Since the Baby Came: A Sibling’s Learning-to-Love Story in 16 Poems by Kathleen Long Bostrom, illustrated by Janet Samuel

I love poetry and rhyme, and always have. I grew up with a mother who often recited poetry and I learned to read with Dr. Seuss books. It’s no wonder I turned to poetry when I began writing picture books for children. 

At a children’s book conference one day about 12 years ago, I asked my friend, an editor for an educational publishing house, “What are the areas in early education where more good books are needed?” 

Without hesitation, she replied, “Poetry.” 

Many of my published books were written in poetry, but what could I write that was unique? Aha! I thought. What if I wrote a story using a variety of styles of poetry, but not limited to the rhyming couplets that I and most other authors used?

The story needed to be pertinent to the lives of young children and also to engage them in the playfulness of poetry, whether they learned the specifics of the forms or not.

I pondered a variety of topics but landed on the story of a young child welcoming a new baby into the family. I wanted to include all the possible emotions—excitement, confusion, frustration, and ultimately joy—thus affirming that all emotions are welcome and affirmed.

Once I carved out the plot, I needed to figure out which poem forms to use for each piece of the story. Each of the sixteen poems had to work within the story arc, but also needed to be an independently executed poem.

I deliberately chose the poem forms that best fit the flow of the book. For instance, the playfulness of a limerick fit well with a poem about a burping, slurping baby during dinnertime. The final poem about the connection between the two siblings is written in a “poem for two voices.”

The book took several years to write, but I loved every minute. Finding a publisher wasn’t as much fun and took over six years. WaterBrook & Multnomah was worth the wait. The illustrations by Janet Samuel are perfect. She brought my words and my story to life, an incredible experience that adds to my love of writing picture books.

My sweet dog, Ellie, died right before Janet began her work. The art director decided it would be a lovely idea to put Ellie in the book, so they did. Encourage your child to help you find Ellie on the pages for some seek-and-find fun!

Since the Baby Came doesn’t depend on people having to learn the poem forms, but if a reader is interested in the basics, short descriptions are included at the end of the book.  

My best advice for writing poetry with and for children? Have fun! I hope that reading Since the Baby Came: A Sibling’s Learning-to-Love Story in 16 Poems with your children will draw everyone into the joy of poetry.

Ideas for Things to Discuss

  • As an adult, what were your favorite children’s books growing up? Did you like books that rhymed? Share these books and memories with your children.

  • Read aloud a poem from Since the Baby Came, or another book written in poetry. How does the poem make you feel? Happy? Joyful? Playful? Sad?

  • Do you have a favorite poem from the book? A favorite poem in general?

  • How do you think your life would change if you had a new baby brother or sister?

Ideas for Things to Do

The best way to learn to write poetry is to do it, and to have fun with it. Not all poems have to rhyme, but try writing in rhyme because it’s fun, and that’s the goal! Here are some poem ideas to try:

  • Choose a topic: a favorite animal or pet; sports; nature. Jot down all the words that come to your mind. Then think of a simple plot: The arrival of a new pet, naming the pet, what the pet likes to eat or play with, where does the pet sleep? Shape your storyline for the poem this way.

    Next, look at the words that could be used in a rhyme, that have lots of other words with which they rhyme, such as play/say/day/hooray. You can even make up silly words if you’d like! Remember, the goal is to have fun! Speaking of fun, here are a few of the words that rhyme with fun: sun, run, done, ton, one, and more.

  • Read the short descriptions of poetry in the back of Since the Baby Came, and then go to the poem in the book and see how it works in the poem. Write a poem with your child, starting with something short and easy, like a simple four-line. Or try a format not in the book, such as an acrostic, where a word, such as “friend” is spelled down the side of a page, one letter starting each new line of a poem that starts with that letter. The poem doesn’t have to rhyme but go ahead and give it a try if you want!







  • Read aloud my poem, “He’s Here! He’s Here!” in Since the Baby Came. This poem uses couplets, two lines that rhyme in sequence. Read the end word in the first line that rhymes, then leave the end word in the second line blank and have your child fill in the word.

  • Read a poem trying out different emotions: sad, angry, silly, happy.

  • Or use different voices for the characters in the poem, imagining what each character would sound like. The tone of your voice matters, so exaggerate and be dramatic to make the poem more engaging and fun.

  • Take a poem you or your child loves (or one he or she wrote) and have fun illustrating it. This is a fun way to think about the words and bring them to life with your imaginations! 

Kathleen Long Bostrom writes books for both children and adults. You can find out more about her and her writing at her website,

REMINDER: This is the last week of the Weekly Poetry Challenge, and we would love to see the poems you and/or your kids have written! You can share them in the comments, tag us on Instagram, or email us (readdiscussdo @ gmail dot com). 


Mindy Baker said…
Awesome post! Thank you!