3 Kid Lit Authors on Their Favorite Poems


Did you know?

April is the time

To celebrate rhyme

And also words that…don’t.

Ahem. Welcome to National Poetry Month! We’re chatting with a few of our kid lit authors to hear about notable poetry in their lives: past and present. Enjoy! 

Marty Bruckner, author of I Love You with All My Butt 

“When I was in the third grade, I remember anxiously awaiting the ring of the mid-morning bell that would dismiss us to our library time. I would do everything I could to get to the front of the line so that I would be the first person allowed into the land of books and card catalogs. I had one mission—run (or, walk ‘library-fast,’ as to not get in trouble) to the aisle that held the wonderful works of Shel Silverstein. At that time, Where the Sidewalk Ends was somewhat of a hot commodity. Everyone wanted to get their hands on it, especially me. But every single week when I arrived at the spot where this literary treasure sat, it was gone. It was like a small ‘third grade-level’ punch to the gut. But never give up, always persist—and you shall be rewarded! Finally, on one very lucky Wednesday, I was indeed the first one in line and after weeks of ‘third grade-level’ devastation, I crept around the corner aisle and there it was! I snagged it from the shelf faster than Indiana Jones could snag a bag of magical jewels and ran (er, walked library-fast) to the librarian to assure that the book would be mine this night! The next week was magical. I read the book cover to cover as many times as I could. I studied each detailed and whimsical drawing. I would go to sleep with the images in my head, hoping one day my illustrations could be part of a book like this someday.” 

James Klise, author of The Art of Secrets (Algonquin Young Readers)

“Thanks to experiences shared among friends and colleagues, thanks to cell phone footage and social media, thanks to paying attention, I now recognize the evergreen relevance of Claude McKay’s words. I love ‘America.’” (For more on James Klise’s experience of reading ‘America’ with a student, check out his post here.)

Colleen AF Venable, Art Director at Workman AND author of Mervin the Sloth

“I think I’ve always been a non-conformist, so in elementary school when all my friends were going crazy over Shel Silverstein, I found this magic gem in the library: In The Garden of Bad Things by Doug MacLeod. The poems were weird, sometimes super gross, and just the right amount of absurd to make me absolutely fall in love with it. My favorite was one was just called ‘O’s,’ a bizarre cautionary tale with the perfect last line: ‘He died of course, which only shows, you shouldn’t mess around with O’s..’ I should now take this time to apologize to all my past teachers for coloring in all the o’s in my textbooks for years after reading this poem, and I should apologize to my mom because I totally got this amazing poem tattooed on my arm this year.”

1 Comment

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    Kristen Steele
    May 16, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    I love this post. To have such a meaningful connection with a poem to get it tattooed on your arm- wow! It’s inspiring and a testament to the power of words.

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