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October 8, 2015

Super Simple Book Spine Poetry

By Alycia Zimmerman
Grades 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Book spine poetry is so simple but creates intriguingly artistic results. Just grab a bunch of books with interesting titles and stack them up to create a juicy column of poetry. Snap a photo of your masterpiece and presto, you’re done! Book spine poetry works with a wide range of ages and abilities (adults love it too — just search #BookSpinePoetry on Twitter!), and it’s a great center activity. Here are some ideas about why and how to introduce book spine poetry to your students.

     

     

     

    "Found Poetry" Forces Creativity

    Book spine poetry falls into the category of “Found Poetry” — that is, poems made up of text lifted from different sources. Found poetry is particularly popular with students who are overwhelmed by the vastness of a blank page or who act like their pencil is barbed. Found poetry is playful and low-stress, but it isn’t slacker poetry. As with all art forms, the limitations force creativity.

     

    Revising Without Rewriting

    Most young writers shy away from the revision process simply because it’s taxing to rewrite their work by hand. With book spine poetry, students will end up spending more time working on revision strategies: word choice, re-sequencing, pruning, etc. After all, it’s a lot easier to flip-flop the order of a stack of books than to rewrite a poem.

    Download the Book Spine Poetry task cards to share with your students. This can be a ready-to-go center or an extension activity for fast finishers.

     

    Extra Benefit: Interesting Titles Tempt Readers

    Book spine poetry has a bonus secret superpower. It pushes students to spend a lot of time meeting new, exciting books, perhaps outside of the genres and series they typically read. A student might even be tempted to crack one of those juicy book spines and read the book he discovered while crafting his poem. It’s also a helpful way to give students an up-close-and-personal tour of your library book collection. After a period of creating book spine poems, your students are going to know where every book in the room lives.

     

    Physical Book Spines Become Digital Poetry

    Book spine poetry has been around for more than twenty years, and a Twitter search proves it’s alive and well on the Internet. Need some more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board of book spine poetry. After your students have created their book spine poems, you can print the photos to create a beautiful bulletin board, or go the digital route and post them online. This is an easy, safe use for a class Twitter account. (Since color ink is scarce in my school, I ask for parent volunteers to print out the students’ photos and then send them in.)

     

    So what are you waiting for? Walk over to your bookshelf right now and stack up a poem!  

     

    For updates on my upcoming blog posts, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

    One year ago: "Celestial Bulletin Boards: A Galaxy of Poetry

    Two years ago: "Tales of a One-to-One Laptop Classroom Newbie

    Three years ago: "The Vocabulary Parade: A Better Reason to Dress Up!”

    Four years ago: “When Grammar Meets Art: A Noun-as-Image Lesson

    Book spine poetry is so simple but creates intriguingly artistic results. Just grab a bunch of books with interesting titles and stack them up to create a juicy column of poetry. Snap a photo of your masterpiece and presto, you’re done! Book spine poetry works with a wide range of ages and abilities (adults love it too — just search #BookSpinePoetry on Twitter!), and it’s a great center activity. Here are some ideas about why and how to introduce book spine poetry to your students.

     

     

     

    "Found Poetry" Forces Creativity

    Book spine poetry falls into the category of “Found Poetry” — that is, poems made up of text lifted from different sources. Found poetry is particularly popular with students who are overwhelmed by the vastness of a blank page or who act like their pencil is barbed. Found poetry is playful and low-stress, but it isn’t slacker poetry. As with all art forms, the limitations force creativity.

     

    Revising Without Rewriting

    Most young writers shy away from the revision process simply because it’s taxing to rewrite their work by hand. With book spine poetry, students will end up spending more time working on revision strategies: word choice, re-sequencing, pruning, etc. After all, it’s a lot easier to flip-flop the order of a stack of books than to rewrite a poem.

    Download the Book Spine Poetry task cards to share with your students. This can be a ready-to-go center or an extension activity for fast finishers.

     

    Extra Benefit: Interesting Titles Tempt Readers

    Book spine poetry has a bonus secret superpower. It pushes students to spend a lot of time meeting new, exciting books, perhaps outside of the genres and series they typically read. A student might even be tempted to crack one of those juicy book spines and read the book he discovered while crafting his poem. It’s also a helpful way to give students an up-close-and-personal tour of your library book collection. After a period of creating book spine poems, your students are going to know where every book in the room lives.

     

    Physical Book Spines Become Digital Poetry

    Book spine poetry has been around for more than twenty years, and a Twitter search proves it’s alive and well on the Internet. Need some more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board of book spine poetry. After your students have created their book spine poems, you can print the photos to create a beautiful bulletin board, or go the digital route and post them online. This is an easy, safe use for a class Twitter account. (Since color ink is scarce in my school, I ask for parent volunteers to print out the students’ photos and then send them in.)

     

    So what are you waiting for? Walk over to your bookshelf right now and stack up a poem!  

     

    For updates on my upcoming blog posts, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

    One year ago: "Celestial Bulletin Boards: A Galaxy of Poetry

    Two years ago: "Tales of a One-to-One Laptop Classroom Newbie

    Three years ago: "The Vocabulary Parade: A Better Reason to Dress Up!”

    Four years ago: “When Grammar Meets Art: A Noun-as-Image Lesson

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