Monday, April 30, 2018

Poem #30- "In My Book"

Phew! April Poetry Month is in the books!

"In My Book"

You can …
open a book
balance the books
have your nose in a book
hit the books.

Or perhaps you can…
read the fine print
read between the lines
read into something
read someone's mind
read someone like a book
or occasionally, read someone the Riot Act
(or throw the book at them if necessary).

You can be......
       a closed book
       an open book
       a bookworm
       or book smart

And you can use
every trick in the book
or perhaps the oldest trick in the book
and if it's really good, make it one for the record books.

And now it's time to close the books
on April Poetry Month!

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

I found the book and reading expressions here.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

POEM #29- Radicle

On Friday night, I was looking back through the poems I have written this month. I was surprised, ok, maybe shocked is a better word, to discover that I had never written a poem to my mom's mom, my Grandma Grace. Grandma Grace was a librarian in the Chicago Public Library system for many, many years. And if I had to pick one person who rooted and grew me as a reader, it would definitely be her. I am not sure why I have not written about her in my poetry journey this month. As I was writing, I wondered if the first root had a special name, so I googled it, and found that it's called the "radicle." I guess that kind of fits, too, with Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's strategy, "Be Inspired by Science."


Radicle: the tree's first root. 
Roots are responsible 
for anchoring the plant body 
to the ground, 
and supporting it. 
You, Grandma Grace, 
were definitely 
my reading radicle. 

you always had a stack of books waiting
on the end table in your living room 
and every summer, when we arrived in Chicago,
i headed for the armchair in the front room 
a reading throne 
where i would take up residence
to devour book after book after book

my reading radicle

you gave me the Little House series
all eight of them
one at a time
i signed the first one
"to Carol Wilcox 
from Grandma Grace, 
December 24, 1967,
Colorado Springs, Colorado
you signed the next seven
i still have those books

my reading radicle

and you introduced me 
to the Newbery Medal
I'm not sure it was intentional
but i still think of 
Claudia and Jamie,
and their grandmother,
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
every year, when the winners are announced
and every time I walk into a museum,
not to mention the million mini-lessons 
I have taught around thinking 
about how an author constructs a text
based on my own comprehension difficulties, 
when I, as a fourth grader,
failed to read Mrs. BEF's prologue.

my reading radicle

The radicle, a tree's first root. 
responsible for anchoring the plant body 
to the ground, 
and supporting it. 
You, Grandma Grace, 
were definitely 
my reading radicle. 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

POEM #28- Conduit

Reading is a conduit to wholeness.    Jason Reynolds

I discovered Jason Reynolds about two years ago and have been a huge fan ever since. I have read almost all of his books and had the opportunity to see him, along with Brendan Kiely in an interview at the Denver Public Library last winter. I wish Reynolds' books had been around when my sons were in middle school and high school. 

Earlier this week, I came across an interview John Schu at Watch Connect Read did after winning the Newbery Honor Medal. I loved this quote, so today it is the basis for my golden shovel poem. 


ahhh, this thing called reading
some think it is
 just about black words crawling across white page, but really it is a
high speed conduit
creating endless opportunities for travel to 
place where brain heart soul merge and there is wholeness

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

POEM #27-When Did Poetry Become Broccoli?

Yesterday, I came across this article by Chris Harris, "When Exactly do Children Start Thinking They hate Poetry?"Chris is an executive producer for How I Met Your Mother and The Great Indoors and recently released his first poetry book, I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING. I found my poem in his article. I was struck by Chris' question, "When did poetry become literary broccoli?" and wondered if there might be a found poem hiding in the article. I started messing around with it; it didn't quite work, but close enough, and so I added some of my own words, and revised the order a little. Because I didn't want to end up in copyright jail, Chris' words are in italics. 

"When did poetry become literary broccoli?"

So tell me, exactly when 
did poetry become literary broccoli?

word-hungry toddler 
gobbles songs, finger plays, 
Good Night Moon and
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
bangs spoon on metal highchair trays
shouts incessantly, 
"more, more, more, more, more!"

So tell me, exactly when 
did poetry become literary broccoli?

was it that nine-year-old
experiencing poetry 
solely through prefab formal structures-
        and diamante 
who exclaimed,       "POETRY:
       It's like regular writing
       but with even more rules!"

No wonder
some kids go from 
enjoying poetry,
     to thinking they hate it
              to knowing they can't stand it.

what about this? 
what about if we made poetry
rather than constrictivewhat about if we help kids
discover just how many directions
and word countries
there are to explore

Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll…
     bouncy joy 
     in nonsense words
     that somehow magically 
     make sense

Nikki Grimes…
     laser-specific moments
     make the universal
     feel personal 

John Grandits
     blurring the line
     between picture and poem
     until poemisthepictureisthepoem

Kwame Alexander…
     makes reader
     lean forward
     until they find themselves
     surrounded by a heartbreaking moment

What about if we help kids think of poetry
as the polar opposite of that?
As writing that's free
from the standard rules?

What about if we allowed them to sit at the kids' table?
from the usual concerns
of standard grammar
proper sentence structure,
conventional margins

let them look at how versatile
and powerful
english words can suddenly be. 

let's give our kids the chance
to stick macaroni noodle words on the tines of their heart
press gravy sentence lakes in mashed potato paragraph puddles
bake miniature cakes in essaybake ovens

might then poetry 
children's literary heart food?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday today. Be sure to stick around and read a few of her poems, ok, actually all of them, from her series ART SPEAK, based on art work from the Harlem Renaissance. In today's post, she talks about how her composing process. I can't believe she creates such beautiful words in an hour! 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

POEM #26- Proficient


four kids
all proficient readers
according to the state test

case study #1
he greets me with a polite, "hello, miss"
then hunkers down 
sideways in his seat
always has a book
always has a next book in mind
regularly reads 30-45 minutes without looking up
doesn't mind chatting with me but
shy about presenting books to peers
completed book log is turned in every week

case study #2
he saunters into class
five minutes late
chooses two or three picture books
bumps noisily against several desks
settles with a few noisy thumps and jostles
chomps gum as he opens book
fingers brush against phone
eyes rove constantly
flips a page
when he sees me watching

case study #3
she flings the locker wide
gestures at the top shelf
five thick library books
stacked spine out
i am reading, she says.
why do i have to fill out a reading log to prove it?

case study #4
identified as gifted
brilliant writer and thinker
high proficient, almost advanced on state tests
reads only if Diary of a Wimpy Kid is available
otherwise, stares blankly into space
or doodles on scratch paper

four kids
all proficient readers

not in my book

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

POEM #25- Censored.

So I have been working, almost since the beginning of the month, on a series of shardomas. Tonight I worked for over an hour, and got nowhere. I finally reverted to one of my old favorites, the story poem. Actually not even sure this counts as a poem, but it's the best I can do tonight.


My mother and Marge Wisby,
who lives up the street
are reading
The cover picture,
an eerily glowing bassinet
with a bold red title
on black cover,
intrigues me.
(And, if truth be told,
scares me a little).

Linda Wisby and I
emerge from the basement playroom
to find our mothers talking about the book.
The conversation stops
as soon as we enter the room.
I wonder what what the book is about.
My mother will not tell me.
I want to read the book.
My mother will not let me.
"When you are older, " she says.
She has never censored my reading.
I wonder what the book is about.
I cannot wait until I am older.

I am reading Tinkerbelle,
the story of a man who sails
a small boat across the Atlantic.
I wait until my mother is out of the room,
take the dust jacket off of Tinkerbelle,
and switch the two books.
Much scarier than anything I have read.
Too scary for me.
My mother was right.
After one hundred pages
I switch the covers back
and return to Tinkerbelle.

I am censored. By me.
(C) Carol Wilcox

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

POEM #24- If you don't learn to read…

"If you don't learn to read…"

So I could just say to you,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read,
you will have to blindly sign forms
that people stick in your face,
you know, things like rental agreements
and car leases and insurance papers
then later, you will be told
about ginormous penalties
that you have incurred,
and when you protest,
someone will wave the paper in your face
and say, "You agreed to it.
It's right here."

Or maybe I could say,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read
you will not be able to figure out your tax returns
(and ok, yes, it maybe true that you may not be able to figure them out anyway)
but if you don't learn to read
you definitely will not be able to figure out your tax returns
and you will end up having to pay someone else
to do what you could probably do for yourself.

Or perhaps I could say,
"Listen, if you don't learn to read
you will not understand
when you get notices saying
you make too much money
so your medicaid has been cancelled
and no, you can't just throw those notices out
or dump them into a drawer
because at some point
those choices will come back
to bite you in the butt."

If I say those things,
will that make you want to learn to read?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

POEM #23- Betrayal

I have been loosely following Amy Ludwig VanderWater's theme, ONE SUBJECT, 30 DAYS. A couple of days ago, she used a "back and forth" structure. I don't think it worked nearly as well for me as it did for her, but at least I tried.


In sixth grade
we sit, in order
best readers,
front right side of the room
Billy O and I
switch seats 1 and 2
every week.
Readers are leaders.

In seventh grade
Bernice Rosenhoover
wears frosted pink lipsticks,
miniskirts, and
platform heels
at lunch 
she necks with boys
on the railroad tracks
north of the junior high.

I do not even own a lipstick.

In sixth grade
finished assignments
mean time to read
from the messy overstuffed bookshelf
 in the back of the room.
I race through
The Borrowers,
The Yearling,
a hundred others.
The books are my real work.

In seventh grade
there are no real books
only anthologies.
I like the stories in those
but they are not books
and they are not very long
and we get in trouble
if we read ahead. 

In sixth grade
there is status to be found
in being the first person
through an SRA color level.
I enjoy that status.

In seventh grade
no one reads.
Reading is boring
Reading is uncool.
Reading is for nerds. 

I do not want to be a nerd.

And so I become Peter
denying my biggest truths
to please an angry crowd.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Sunday, April 22, 2018

POEM #22- rules for readers

Not sure they are considered "real poems," but I have always loved messing around with abecedarians, and usually at least one shows up every April. I've been messing around with this one off and on for a few days…

"Rules for Readers"

always allow ample time for reading
build a budget for book buying
constantly carry reading materials
don't devalue the power of a few minutes
"ear reading" is excellent, as are e-books
find friends and form a book club
genre and author studies are great
house a stack of "next reads on your nightstand
ignore those who insinuate that reading is not important
juggle multiple books if that works for you
know that reading is as essential as breathing
literary is lovely, but not always, it's important, sometimes to
make time for things like mysteries and magazines
never pass a bookstore without going in
observe what others are reading
plan for poetry pretty much every day
question, constantly, what you see in print
reread, review and recommend your favorites to other readers
stories are salve, mirrors, and windows for the soul, so don't
take truths you find in books lightly
unless you absolutely love a book, don't read it
value the opinions of others, but don't let them dictate your book choices
wish and wonder while you read
exit books that just aren't working out for you
you don't need to defend your reading choices
zzzzzzz- end each day with a little reading

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Saturday, April 21, 2018

POEM #21- Endless

If you teach a child to read, then their opportunities in life will be endless. 
Barbara Bush (1925-2018)


sometimes it seems as if
there is no way you
will be able to teach
that recalcitrant reader how a 
single book can change a person's entire world because that child
resists endlessly, but you hold big truth, and so you are compelled to 
keep looking for that perfect read
and then
one magical and unforgettable day their 
eyes are opened to the opportunities 
waiting in
books and all of a sudden, that student's life,
previously limited, will
never be 
the same, the horizons have become endless 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Friday, April 20, 2018

POEM #20- If I were a book

For the past two weeks, I have mostly been proctoring session after session after session of our state's "blessed event." Definitely not my favorite thing about teaching. We aren't allowed to look at the screen while we are proctoring, but I can't help but wonder what the kids are reading. On other tests,  in the past, I've been surprised more than once, to see the names of authors that I love. And truthfully, I always feel a little betrayed by that. I always wonder why an author would ever sell her work like that...

And as far as style, I've been reading Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's poems this month. Amy writes rhyming poems, pretty much every day, and she's really, really good at it. I hardly ever write rhyming poems, it just seems way too hard to me. Somehow, tonight, I decided I would try rhyming…

"If I were a book"

If I were a book
I'd want to face out,
and show off my cover
my worth I would flout.

If I were a book
I would want to be read,
in classes, on buses,
I'd want my words spread.

If I were a book
I'd hate corners turned,
but notes in the margins
would show lessons learned.

If I were a book
I'd want a few smudges,
they'd show I'd been loved
I wouldn't hold grudges.

If I were a book
I never would be
a passage to dissect
from a test factory.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Thursday, April 19, 2018

POEM #19- Blueberry Pie Elf

When I was a little girl, my mom took us to the bookmobile parked at a nearby shopping center every single week. I couldn't wait to go. I'd check out as many books as my library card would allow, and carry my treasures home. I would spend the rest of the day and probably most of the week, simply reading.

My sisters read very differently. My middle sister did not read much at all. My youngest sister read, but she had one book, THE BLUEBERRY PIE ELF, that she read over and over again, for many, many months. When we got to be adults, I found that book online, and gave it to her for Christmas one year.

Today is my sister's birthday. This poem is for her.

"Blueberry Pie Elf"

Monday afternoon.
I couldn't wait
to clamber aboard
the bookmobile
to exchange
my teetering pile
for another million treasures. 

My sister,
a much more
faithful reader.
Every week,
she'd climb the stairs
with her paltry pile,
two or three books at most
and proceed directly
down the narrow aisle
to the checkout desk.
She had to know, for sure, that
Elmer, the blueberry pie elf,
was coming home
with her again,
before she would check out
anything else.

She was a one book kind of gal.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

POEM #18- Reading Confessions

Reading Confessions (tanka wannabe's)

i am a person
known to dive into dumpsters, 
brave busy intersections,
and ford rushing rivers,
in search of reading material

friends always tell me
over easy eggs and fantasy
 are pleasing to the palate
I swear I've tried 'em
both stick in my craw 

each time i promise
i won't do it again, but 
mid book, I can't wait
I leap sixty pages
and peek at the end

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


June 1969.
Family vacation
to visit relatives.
Somehow, the unthinkable happens.
I run out of reading material.

I mount the steep stairs
to my grandmother's attic.
Find a box of books in one corner. 
Thick adult books.
Faded water stained covers.
Yellowing pages.
Small print.
The choices are paltry.

500-page biography of Queen Victoria
is close to the top. 
I begin reading.
I read and read and read.
DRINA is long.
I don't know much about English history
DRINA is hard to understand. 
I read and read and read.
DRINA is boring.
I do not finish in the week
I spend at my grandmother's. 
She lets me put DRINA in my suitcase.
I am not a quitter reader.

By the end of the summer
I have finished DRINA.
It is easily the longest book I have ever read. 
I can recite a few random facts.
Queen Victoria's real name was Alexandrina.
Drina shared a bedroom with her mother 
until she became queen at age 18.
Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert. 

Fifty years later I am a teacher. 
Every time we talk about rigor
I picture that faded navy blue cover.
I remember DRINA.
If a text is long and hard and boring
and the reader doesn't quit
does that count as rigor?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Monday, April 16, 2018

Poem #16- Taps

Today, I decided to try something completely different. A few years ago I encountered a form that was new to me. Bonnie, who blogs at is a March slicer. She posted a poetry form called an arun, which she learned from another slicer, Stacie, who blogged at  An arun is a fifteen-line poem, written in three sets of five lines. Each set of five lines follows the same syllable structure: starting with one syllable and increasing by one (1/2/3/4/5 — 3x). Today's poem is an arun, written in honor of one of my students, a soccer goalie who just couldn't  leave until she finished the last few pages of her book. 


ends in
a concert 
of banging chairs
and slamming lockers

turn page
after page
do not notice
room has gone silent

on last words
soccer practice
will just have to wait

(C) Carol Wilcox,2018

Sunday, April 15, 2018

POEM #15- Why I Read


when loud voices and slamming doors
have been replaced by an unbearable silence
when you are gone but living in every cabinet I open
books are an escape hatch.

when words beyond hurtful have been spoken
when my life blood dries in pools on the dining room floor
when my heart is shattered into a million pieces
books are soul glue.

when all doors to happy family appear barred and chained
when the path to wholeness has ended at an unscalable cliff
when there appears no turning back
books are a flashlight on life's dark path.

like a million other days in the land of hard,
books are truth
and home.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018

POEM #14- You Ask Me Why You Need to Read

I have fought an uphill battle with my seventh graders this year. Many of them don't like to read, and don't see a lot of use for reading in their lives. As a lifelong reader, that's really hard for me to hear. I want them to love, love, love reading, to know the pleasure of escaping to a good book when life is hard, and to know how it feels to understand yourself better by walking through someone else's story. 

I also want kids to know that reading is where I come to know and understand worlds far beyond my own. This week, I was really troubled, as were many other people, by a study that was reported in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The study said that 22% of millenials are not sure that they have ever heard of the Holocaust. Sixty-six percent don't know what Auschwitz is. And I remember that I came to know that era through books, as early as fourth or fifth grade- Snow Treasure, Anne Frank,  and The HidingPlace. More recently, my heart has been broken by Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, Refugee,  and All the Light We Cannot See. When I think about the impact those books have had on me, I know I cannot give up sharing books with kids…

"You Ask Me Why You Need to Read"

You ask me why you need to read…

Twenty-two percent
of millenials  
are not sure 
they have never heard 
of the Holocaust

And I think of how I came to know…

At ten,
I sledded down a mountain
with Peter, Michael, Helga and Louise
smuggling Norway's national treasure
past Nazi eyes to waiting ships. 

At thirteen, 
I was Anne Frank,
altruistic, selfish,
brave, fearful,
huddled silently 
in a crowded Amsterdam annex
with my sister, mother, father,
and four others 

At sixteen, 
I returned to Amsterdam
with Corrie TenBoom and her sister Betsie, 
middle aged spinsters, 
working in their eighty-year-old father's watch shop
until the Nazi invasion
turned the three of  them into resistance fighters

between 1940 and 1945
1.3 million people
were deported to Auschwitz
1.1 million were killed
two thirds 
of American millenials 
do not recognize
the name of this place

And you ask me why you need to read…

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Friday, April 13, 2018

POEM #13- Happy Birthday Lee Bennett Hopkins!

Happy Birthday 
Lee Bennett Hopkins!
Wishing you a day filled with
dear friends and stories and cupcakes!

In honor of Lee, and all of the contributions he has made to the world of children's literature, and more specifically to the world of poetry, I decided I would try a golden shovel poem, based on one of Lee's poems, "Storyteller, (For Augusta Baker)" from one of his most recent books, JUMPING OFF THE LIBRARY SHELVES, published in 2015.

(For Augusta Baker)
by Lee Bennett Hopkins

As she speaks
leap from pages--

there are
friends like
frog and toad--

I walk 
down a
yellow brick road.

Worlds of paper

Miss Augusta 
and I
are here
in a room
filled with magic

And as her voice
the highest rafter--

I believe in


I believe in

happily every after. 

"this I believe"

there is great magic in
beginning each child's day with once-upon-a-time,
also firmly believe 
each child's day should end in
they all lived happily 
and kindly and peacefully ever 

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

And now you should head over to Robin Hood Black's 
where there are lots of posts, and maybe some cake and ice cream and candles,  in honor of Lee!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

POEM #12- Gardener

My seventh graders are an endless source of joy and consternation. I so, so, so want them to be readers. I buy books and talk books and read books. And honestly, I have to drag most of them, kicking and screaming, to the reading table every single day. Yeah, there are at least three that are avid readers, and devour a book a week. And there are seven or eight more that love graphic novels and beg me, pretty much every day, to buy more. And a few series lovers- think Wimpy Kid, Nate the Great, etc. But most of my seventh graders are really not what I would describe as readers. There are, however, a small handful that are growing that way. And I wonder about them. How are they coming to a love of reading? What planted that seed for them? How can I best support them? This poem is for one of my favorite new readers.


You dart and spin through halls
dribble down the court
fly toward first base
a non-stop, middle school, moving machine

and yet every afternoon,
for thirty solid minutes
all that motion stops
as eye, brain, heart override
that endlessly active body

you stand on the diamond with Jackie
lose a half-read copy of Refugee
and beg me to find another so you can finish it
put dibs on a new book because you remember
the author visited our school last year
I watch and wonder

What gardener
planted that reading seed in your soul?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

POEM #11- "When Did You Stop Reading?"

I'm teaching seventh grade reading class this year. And it's hard, because so many of them don't like to read, at all, and I feel like I'm talking books, and showing them myself as a reader, but I'm not seeing them move and grow as readers. Today, when I was talking to one of the seventh grade girls, this poem came to me.

"When Did You Stop Reading?

First grade.
Robert Munsch was your favorite author.
Remember how we laughed over
Pigs and Moira's Birthday?
How earnestly you explained
the message in Stephanie's Ponytail?
And how you read your way through
every single dinosaur book in the library.
You were definitely a reader then.
And I wonder
When did you stop reading?

Did you quit in second grade
when teachers decided that reading
was a lot like race car driving
and that measuring words per minute
was more important
than carrying stories
in your heart basket?
Was that when you stopped reading?

Or was it in third grade?
That was the year we got out
the test prep packets
and asked you to peer through
a magnifying glass at a text that was rigorous
(not to be confused with ridiculous)
because that activity
was somehow more worthwhile
than sitting with your best friend
heads bent over Each Kindness
promising that you would never
be that mean to someone.
Was that when you stopped reading?

Or was it when you got to fifth grade
and your teacher said that graphic novels
and Diary of a Wimpy Kid
were not acceptable for someone
about to enter middle school
but she never told you
about other books you might like
and then your class went to the library
but there wasn't a librarian
and you didn't know what to choose
so you went back to your class without anything.
Was that when you stopped reading?

Or was it when you hit middle school
and there was one assigned book every quarter
and you didn't really care anything about
factory life on the east coast in the 1800's
or Japanese kite makers who immigrated to California
and the class crawled through that book at turtle speed
and then you got to the end of the book
and you were supposed to talk about how
the main character had changed
from the beginning to the end
but you couldn't remember the beginning
because it was a long time ago
and what you really wanted to talk about
was how your best friend, who had been your best friend since kindergarten
had changed and was not your best friend anymore
but that didn't fit into the sentence stem
and so you couldn't talk about it.
Was that when you stopped reading?

And is it too late to do Reading CPR?

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

POEM #10- A Phonics Girl

April is National Poetry Month. I'm trying to write a poem every day. I've chosen, "A Reading Life" as my theme. Some days I'm writing along with Amy Ludwig VanDerwater over at the Poem Farm. Amy's theme for this month is "One Subject, Thirty Ways." She is writing, every single day, using a different structure or poetic technique, about the constellation Orion. Today's technique was a "circular poem." Amy describes it this way:
A circular poem begins and ends the same way.  Some people call this "going out the same door you came in," and this is a good way to remember it.  Sometimes a circular poem - or other text - closes with the exact same words, and sometimes it closes with words that are much like the beginning. 
Here's my attempt at a circular poem. 

"A Phonics Girl"

Me? I have never been much of a phonics girl.

Second grade. 
I am wearing my new brownie uniform.
Tan button up the front dress. 
Pumpkin orange tie. Stretchy belt. Felt beanie. 
I love the beanie. 
I wear it all day. 
Even to reading group.

We sit on hard wooden chairs
in a semicircle in front of the teacher. 
A large chart hangs beside her. 
She spells the words on the chart.
L-e-t. Let. N-e-t.  Net. P-e-t. Pet.  
I know how to read these words.
These are baby words. 
I can read chapter books. 

Mrs. Crowder points to the words.
She tells us they are all short e words. 
I think she is talking about the height of the letters. 
I agree with her about let. 
The e is shorter than the l and the t
But what about get and yet?
The g and y are the same height as the e..
But that part that hangs down, what about that?
And what does short e have to do with reading anyway?

I tip my head back. My beanie falls off. 
I hop up, walk through the center of reading group,
around the back of the circle, pick it up, 
traipse through the center of reading group, sit back down.
Mrs. Crowder is still talking about short e. 
I tip my head back. My beanie falls off again. 
I hop up, walk through the center of reading group,
around the back of the circle, pick it up, 
traipse through the center of reading group, sit back down.
The third time Mrs. Crowder stops me. 
"Carol," she says, "Don't you want to learn to short e?"
"No thank you," I say. "I don't care to learn short e.
I can already read."

And so the rest of the class learns short e. 
While my impudent already reading self
 sits on the cold tile floor in the hall 
twirling my brownie beanie on one hand
and picking read playground gravel 
off the back of my bare legs with the other.

Me? I have never been much of a phonics girl.

(C) Carol Wilcox, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

POEM #9- Found Poems from Dan Rather

Since November, 2016, I have followed Dan Rather on Facebook. For me, he is a voice of reason in a world of crazy. Yesterday he had a post about libraries. In that post, I found a bunch of short poems.


Next to the Supreme Court
and facing the great dome
of the Capitol
the Library of Congress.
Three institutions
judge and
archive the words
and thoughts
that allow
our nation 
to function.

A government of laws
is a government of reason
and a government of books.

-Dan Rather


our own biases 
and learn beyond our level 
of formal education. 

These are qualities 
that are needed now 
more than ever.

Dan Rather


The library 
a reservoir 
for capturing 
the world’s knowledge
a beautiful temple 
of learning. 

Dan Rather

the building inspired me 
to dream of exploring a world 
greater than the one I knew.

Dan Rather

the librarian 
a guide to
 suggest, question, 
and prod my reading 
into new and unexpected directions. 
a true patriot...


Our Founding Fathers 
had sharp political differences, 
but they were almost all 
deep readers, 
writers, and thinkers. 
revered the power of the written word 
and how it enabled a nation free 
from the whims of a king. 

Dan Rather

Dan Rather

"I recognize a quaintness in waxing nostalgic about libraries in an age when we have instantaneous access to more information than was contained in all the combined library collections of my youth. Still, libraries represent an aspirational notion of democracy. They were, and still are, civic institutions that welcome anyone who wishes to become a more informed and independent citizen. In books we can find expert and trustworthy scholarship on any subject imaginable. By reading books, we can continually challenge our own biases and learn beyond our level of formal education. These are qualities that are needed now more than ever...
If you travel to Washington, D.C., you can see our country’s debt to the power of books in the very heart of our federal city. Next to the Supreme Court and facing the great dome of the Capitol is the Library of Congress. I find the symbolism inspiring: three institutions that write, judge, and archive the words and thoughts that allow our nation to function. The Library of Congress was founded in 1800 with a modest mission, a reference resource for Congress. But that changed after the British burned Washington during the War of 1812 and the original collection was lost. In response, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his own library to the U.S. government. His collection of books was considered one of the finest in the New World, containing thousands of volumes on almost every topic imaginable — not just law, statecraft, and history, but also the sciences, philosophy, and the arts. To those who argued that such a disparate set of works was unnecessary for a Library of Congress, Jefferson responded, “There is in fact no subject to which a member of Congress may not have occasion to refer.”
The library now had a bold new direction — a reservoir for capturing the world’s knowledge. This mission was enhanced greatly in 1870, when Congress stipulated that the library must receive two copies of every book, map, photograph, or other such work that was submitted for copyright in the United States. This caused the collection to expand exponentially, and the pace of growth continues at what is now the largest library in the world. The building on Capitol Hill — with a domed ceiling soaring 160 feet above its spectacular reading room — is itself a beautiful temple of learning. A guidebook from around the time the new building opened in 1897 celebrated Jefferson’s idea of an expansive collection and perfectly captures my feelings for this singular institution. “America is justly proud of this gorgeous and palatial monument to its National sympathy and appreciation of Literature, Science, and Art. It has been designed and executed entirely by American art and American labor [and is] a fitting tribute for the great thoughts of generations past, present, and to be.”
Growing up in a working-class Houston, I had never heard of the Library of Congress but my local branch of the Houston Public Library showed me that books were not only important, they were also objects of beauty. The stone building had high ceilings, big windows, and a red tile roof; its Italian-style architecture made the library seem worlds away from my hardscrabble neighborhood. I was pleased that it later became a recognized historic landmark. Even as a high school student, I would often prolong my walk home from school to go by the library. It may sound sappy, but the building inspired me to dream of exploring a world greater than the one I knew.
But while the library’s physical charm was impressive, it was what was inside that made it truly magical. I was a voracious reader and spent countless hours in what became a sort of second home. I was following, in my own small way, the path laid out by Jefferson, Carnegie, and all the others who believed in the power of books. And I had a wonderful guide, the librarian Jimmie May Hicks, who served at the Heights branch library from the year of my birth, 1931, until her death in 1964 — more than three decades of quiet but consequential service to her community and nation. Like all the best librarians, Ms. Hicks would suggest, question, and prod my reading into new and unexpected directions. The library now has a memorial plaque in her honor that reads, in part, She dedicated her life to her profession and sought always to impart to others joy in acquiring knowledge and pleasure in the art of reading. She was a true patriot...
Our nation was born in a spirit of fierce debate. Our Founding Fathers had sharp political differences, but they were almost all deep readers, writers, and thinkers. When they set about to create a modern republic, they went into their libraries and pulled out the works of philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. They consulted the Greeks, the Romans, the philosophers of Europe, and the Bible. They revered the power of the written word and how it enabled a nation free from the whims of a king. As John Adams wrote, a republic “is a government of laws, and not of men.” A government of laws is a government of reason, and a government of books. That was true at our founding, and we must ensure that it remains a hallmark of our future."
Libraries must be part of #WhatUnitesUs