When it comes to getting students excited about poetry, a teacher’s own enthusiasm for the genre is often the most effective way to show students just how powerful a poem can be. By sharing your own favorites from when you were their age, or even reciting a few poems you wrote sitting in a classroom, just as your students are today, you can help students see poetry in a way they may not have considered before—a way that really honors its power and versatility.
But no matter the strategies or methods you tap to help students appreciate poetry more fully, it’s important to continue challenging their perceptions of the form—something Love That Dog does well. By encouraging readers to see poetry through the eyes of Jack, a young student who at first cares little about poetry, but ultimately finds joy and relief in writing it, the story helps students better understand the motivations for writing poetry and what the process actually looks like. After reading the story, students can expect to have a deeper understanding of poetry, but most importantly, will view it differently than they have in the past.
Here are seven ways that Love That Dog helps students see poetry in a new light:
1. Poetry doesn't always have to rhyme.
2. Poetry can be easy to follow, not confusing.
3. It can tell a story.
4. It can be funny.
5. It can be about ordinary, "nonpoetic" things, like a red wheelbarrow or a pet dog.
6, Everyone can write a poem.
7. Sometimes poetry is best when it just comes pouring out of your head and you don't think too much about what it means.
Love That Dog is proof that poetry can be many things to many different people. Poems can be long or short, funny or sad, well-thought out or just dropped onto a sheet of paper from a young poet’s head. But most importantly, the book shows just how powerful poetry is—that it can make people feel better and help writers understand their own emotions and memories in a way that can make difference, not just in their own lives, but in the lives of those who read their words.