Poems for Multiple Voices

Poems for multiple voices are poems that are meant to be read aloud by two or more people, with different lines for each reader. Sometimes the lines for different voices are in different colors, or they are physically separated on the page. Poems for multiple voices can be difficult to find. Search in the library catalog and the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database for: “two voices” poems or “four voices” poems. You can also do a Google search for poems for multiple voices. There is a lot of online content about how to create lesson plans using poems for multiple voices.

Other books that would work for multiple voices include novels from multiple perspectives, such as Nikki Grimes’ Bronx Masquerade (Education S Collection S.G882b), which is told from the alternating perspectives of an English teacher and each of his students. Bilingual books can also work, with children switching off between languages–one reads the first language, and the other reads the second language. One example is Monica Brown’s Side by Side: the Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez = Lado a lado: la historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez (Education S Collection SB. C512b), a book in both English and Spanish.

Multiple voice poems can also be called dialogue poems, although this term is not used in the library’s catalog. The University of Minnesota has a lesson plan for dialogue poems that teaches different cultural perspectives. This lesson plan includes a powerful poem told in two voices called “Two Women.” This poem was written by a working-class Chilean woman and illustrates the differences between a poor woman’s life and a rich woman’s life.

Two Voices

Alderson, Sue Ann.
Wherever Bears Be: a Story for Two Voices. 1999.
In this story for two voices, two girls embark on a berry-picking expedition, afraid that they are being followed by bears.
[Education Storage Q. SE. Al23w]

Fleischman, Paul.
I am Phoenix: Poems for Two Voices. 1985.
A collection of poems about birds to be read aloud by two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 F628I]

Fleischman, Paul.
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices. 1988.
Written to be read aloud by two voices–sometimes alternating, sometimes simultaneous–here is a collection of poems that celebrate the insect world, from the short life of the mayfly to the love song of the book louse. Funny, sad, loud, and quiet, each of these poems resounds with a booming, boisterous, joyful noise.
[Education S Collection S.811 F628J]

Franco, Betsy.
Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices. 2009.
Out on the playground, kids are skipping rope and making trades. In the classroom, they’re learning their lessons….or spinning tales about why they haven’t turned in their homework. Throughout this collection of nineteen poems–ideal for reading aloud in pairs, but just as much fun with one or many–words, pictures, and voices erupt in an irresistible invitation to join an exhilarating ride around school.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 F848m]

Harrison, David L.
Bugs: Poems about Creeping. 2007.
These often funny poems are written to be read aloud. Some of them are made for two voices, with the second voice sometimes being a buzzing chorus of bugs.
[Education S Collection S.811 H245b]

Harrison, David L.
Farmer’s Dog goes to the Forest. 2005.
David L. Harrison’s charming rhymes for two voices provide young readers with plenty of lighthearted fun while they participate in Dog’s interviews with everything from worms to carrots to cats.
[Education S Collection S.811 H245f]

Heard, Georgia.
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky: Poems. 1992.
These short poems about wild animals include poems for two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 H3512C]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together. 2010.
Retells thirteen of Aesop’s fables, with each short poem inviting two readers to read their own parts, and then read the passage in the central column together.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653v]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together. 2004.
Eight favorite fairy tales in very short tellings, told in two voices to allow reading together.
[Education S Collection Q. S.398.2 H653y]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Mother Goose Tales to Read Together. 2005.
Classic Mother Goose rhymes in color-coded typography let young children read along with an adult.
[Center for Children’s Books Q. S.811 H653y2005]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales to Read Together. 2007.
Uses alliteration, rhyme, and repetition to invite children to read along with peers or with an adult.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653y2007]

Hoberman, Mary Ann.
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together. 2001.
With type set in three columns and three colors for easy readability, each short, rhymed story in this collection is like a little play for two voices. They are about all kinds of thing: bears, birthdays, puppies, snowmen, friendships, and more. They all feature traditional reading techniques — rhyme, rhythm, and repetition — and finish with a satisfying refrain.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H653y]

Lewis, J. Patrick and Keith Graves.
The World’s Greatest: Poems. 2008.
Who has kissed the most cobras? Eaten the most live scorpions? These and 21 other vexing superlatives are the subject matter of this zany collection of verse. Included are two poems that can be read in two voices.
[Education S Collection S.811 L5853w]

Schlitz, Laura Amy.
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village. 2007.
A collection of short one-person plays featuring characters, between ten and fifteen years old, who live in or near a thirteenth-century English manor. There are also two dialogues for two voices.
[Education Juvenile Reference S.812 Sch394g; Uni High 812 Sch394g]

Yolen, Jane, et al.
Dear Mother, Dear Daughter: Poems for Young People. 2001.
In 17 pairs of verse, poets Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple — real-life mother and daughter — exchange their thoughts on a variety of adolescent issues great and small, such as homework, messy bedrooms, lengthy telephone calls, the death of a grandparent, and schoolgirl crushes. These poems can be read by two voices.
[Education Storage S.811 Y78de]

Four Voices

Fleischman, Paul.
Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices. 2000.
Delight in the gossipy “Seventh-Grade Soap Opera,” alive with whispers, invitations, and hearsay about who’s fibbing, eavesdropping, or holding hands with whom. Let the poignant “Ghosts’ Race” reveal the secret hungry ghosts know — and their spirited take on mortal mealtime. Arranged in color-coded groups of four lines, one line per speaker, each poem weaves a rich tapestry of rhythm, sense, and sound.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 F628b2000]

Greenfield, Eloise.
The Friendly Four. 2006.
When Drum, Dorene, Louis, and Rae enter one another’s lives unexpectedly, they embark on an unforgettable summer of discovery and creative play together. With individual poems and poems for multiple voices, Eloise Greenfield follows four children as they explore the bonds of friendship, family, and community.
[Center for Children’s Books Q. S.811 G837f]

Varied Voices

Janeczko, Paul B.
A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. 2009.
Paul B. Janeczko offers a range of gems in this collection, from classic Shakespeare and Lear to anonymous rhymes to contemporary riffs on everything under the sun. There are options for one, two, three, and more voices.
[Education S-Collection S.811 F7397]

Unusual Poem Forms

Poetry comes in many forms, including unique visual forms. The books of poems in this list vary from acrostics to concrete and multi-voiced poems. Concrete poetry is also sometimes referred to as visual poetry. Try a few of these books out and then have fun making your own visual poems!

– Acrostics: The first letter of each line spells out a word or message.
– Concrete Poems: The shape of the poem is important to the poem.
– Macaronic verse: words in two or more languages are interspersed in the poem.
– Multi-voiced Poems: these are meant to be read aloud by multiple people. Each person has a separate part to read.

Burg, Brad.
Outside the Lines: Poetry at Play. 2002.
Here are twenty-two concrete poems in motion! When it comes to poetry, why shouldn’t words leave their sensible rows, like kids at recess, to run, jump and glide across the page? Follow the path of a Frisbee, paper airplane or firefly. Told in the voices of children, these concrete poems rhyme.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 B91o]

Cleary, Brian P.
Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry. 2004.
An introduction to poetry that uses humorous poems, illustrations, and annotations to clarify terms and explain different types of poems, such as macaronic verse, concrete poems, and limericks. This book both contains and explains concrete poems.
[Center for Children’s Books S.808.1 C5807r]

Franco, Betsy.
Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails: Patterns & Shapes – Naturally. 2008.
Come explore the hidden shapes and patterns in nature. The peacock’s flashy tail is a masterpiece of color and shape. A buzzing beehive is built of tiny hexagons. Only one poem has a visual form: a spiral poem about a snail.
[Education S Collection S.811 F848b]

Franco, Betsy.
A Curious Collection of Cats. 2009.
The quirky ways of cats are exquisitely captured in more than thirty original visual poems. From acrobat-flipping to toilet-bowl-sipping, couch-scratching to dog-catching, this insightful collection celebrates the fickle feline in ways that any cat lover will appreciate.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 F848c]

Franco, Betsy.
Mathematickles. 2003.
A collection of poems written in the form of mathematical problems and grouped according to seasonal themes. Follow a girl and her cat as they walk through the seasons and note the mathematical concepts illustrated around them.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 F8483m]

Froman, Robert.
Seeing Things: A Book of Poems. 1974.
The words of these fifty-one brief poems are arranged on the pages in shapes appropriate to the subjects of the poems.
[Education Oak St Facility: Request Online]

Graham, Joan Bransfield.
Flicker Flash. 1999.
A collection of poems celebrating light in its various forms, from candles and lamps to lightning and fireflies.
[Education Storage S.811 G76f]

Graham, Joan Bransfield.
Splish Splash. 1994.
Presenting the many forms of water in concrete poems and graphic illustrations–including rain, snow, ocean waves, ice cubes, and tears. This books has some poems in the shapes they describe.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 G76S]

Grandits, John.
Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems. 2007.
A 15-year-old girl named Jessie voices teenage concerns in this unique, hilarious collection of poems. Her funny, sarcastic take on high school life is revealed through concrete poetry: words, ideas, type, and design that combine to make pictures and patterns.
[Education S Collection S.811 G764b]

Grandits, John.
Technically, It’s Not My Fault: Concrete Poems. 2004.
An eleven-year-old boy named Robert uses shaped poems to muse over pizza, homework, thank-you notes, and his annoying older sister. In addition, he speculates about professional wrestling for animals and wonders why no one makes scratch-and-sniff fart stickers.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811 G764t]

Greene, Rhonda Gowler.
When a Line Bends… A Shape Begins. 1997.
Rhymed text describes how shapes are made from simple lines. Some of the verses appear on the page in the shapes they describe.
[Center for Children’s Books SE. G835w]

Harley, Avis.
African Acrostics: a Word in Edgewise. 2009.
These African animal acrostics take the acrostic form to a whole new level. Here you’ll find the elusive double acrostic (in which the first and last letters of each line spell a message), the cross acrostic (in which the message is read diagonally), and the multiple acrostic (see it to believe it).
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H2272a]

Hopkins, Lee Bennett (compiler).
Incredible Inventions: Poems. 2009.
With sixteen original poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Julia Sarcone-Roach’s imaginative artwork, Incredible Inventions celebrates creativity that comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of the selections are concrete poems.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 In217]

Janeczko, Paul B (compiler).
A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. 2005.
In this splendid and playful volume, acclaimed poetry anthologist Paul B. Janeczko and Caldecott Honor illustrator Chris Raschka present lively examples of twenty-nine poetic forms, demonstrating not only the (sometimes bendable) rules of poetry, but also the spirit that brings these forms so wonderfully to life. Acrostic and concrete poems are included in this volume.
[Education S Collection S.811 K534]

Janeczko, Paul B (compiler).
A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems. 2001.
Even kids who don’t know they like poetry will love this playful, visually accessible collection of thirty concrete poems. The size and arrangement of words – or even just letters on the page can add or alter meaning, and poems can take the shape of crows and fly off the page.
[Education S Collection S.811.08 P7562001]

Lewis, J. Patrick.
Doodle Dandies: Poems that Take Shape. 1998.
Uniting words and pictures, children’s author Lewis takes verse to a new level with his innovative shape poetry, where the form of each poem relates to its content.
[Education Oak St Facility Q. S.811 L588d]

Moore, John Travers.
There’s Motion Everywhere. 1970.
A collection of poems in which the typographical arrangement of the words often suggests the motion being described.
[Education Oak St Facility: Request Online]

Sidman, Joyce.
Meow Ruff: a Story in Concrete Poetry. 2006.
On a clear, sunny day, a small adventure begins. First, a dog slips joyfully out of his house. Next a car pulls up to the curb, leaving a white cat alone. Then, slowly, a storm begins to brew over the park. Watch as an unlikely friendship takes shape in this one-of-a-kind book that combines story, art, and delightful concrete poetry.
[Center for Children’s Books S.811.54 Si139m]

Black Poetry Day: October 17th

October 17th is Black Poetry Day. In honor of this day, this month’s blog post focuses on materials by and about black poets in the S-Collection. In 1760 Jupiter Hammon became the first published African-American poet. Black Poetry Day is celebrated on October 17th in honor of the anniversary of Hammon’s birth in 1711. Lessons on Black Poetry Day can include historical events such as the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement. A few of the books listed below also combine poetry with examination of artwork, such as Nikki Giovanni’s Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy… , Belinda Rochelle’sWords With Wings… and Ntozake Shange’s We Troubled the Waters: Poems.

To find more poems by black authors, do an advanced search in the online catalog using the subject “juvenile” as one of your search terms, combined with any of the following phrases as subjects:
African Americans — Poetry.
American poetry — African-American authors.
American poetry — African American authors — Collections.
African Americans — Juvenile poetry.

For biographies about black poets do a search in the online catalog using the following phrase as a subject:
African American poets — Biography — Juvenile literature.

You can also search for books by the following black poets: Maya Angelou, Jeffrey Barton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sterling A. Brown, Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, Nikki Grimes, Angelina W. Grimke, Jupiter Hammon, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Ntozake Shange, Anne Spencer, Joyce Carol Thomas, Flora Todd, Natasha Trethewey, Margaret Walker, Chad Wendell, Phillis Wheatley, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Poetry by and about Black Poets

Adedjouma, Davida.
The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children. 1996.
A collection of poems written by African American children celebrating what it means to be Black.
[Education Storage S.811.08 P18]

Altman, Susan and Susan Lechner.
Followers of the North Star: Rhymes about African American Heroes, Heroines, and Historical Times. 1993.
A collection of poems about some of the historical experiences of African Americans and about such prominent people as Benjamin Banneker, Matthew Henson, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Leontyne Price.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 AL79F]

Brooks, Gwendolyn.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. 2007.
This newly illustrated edition collects poems that celebrate the joy, beauty, imagination, and freedom of childhood.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 B791b]

Bryan, Ashley.
Ashley Bryan’s ABC of African-American Poetry. 1997.
Each letter of the alphabet is represented by a line from a poem by different African American poets, describing an aspect of the black experience.
[Education S Collection Q. SE. B382a]

Dawes, Kwame.
I Saw Your Face. 2005.
A poem and portraits of children illustrate the shared beauty and heritage of people of African descent living throughout the world.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 D321i]

English, Karen.
Speak to Me: (and I Will Listen Between the Lines). 2004.
Describes events of one day at a San Francisco Bay Area school as perceived by different second-graders, from the observations of the first to arrive on the playground to the walk home.
[Education Storage SE. En365s]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Hip Hop Speaks to Children: a Celebration of Poetry with a Beat. 2008.
More than 50 poems and an accompanying CD introduce poetry with a beat. Includes poems by Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jacqueline Woodson, Eloise Greenfield, Walter Dean Myers, Tupac Shakur, and many others.
[Education S Collection S.811 H611]

Giovanni, Nikki (ed).
Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy like My Sister Kate: Looking at the Harlem Renaissance Through poems. 1996.
Includes poems by such authors as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Amiri Baraka, with commentary and a discussion of the development of African American arts known as the Harlem Renaissance.
[Uni High, Center for Children’s Books 811.08 SH62]

Giovanni, Nikki.
Spin a Soft Black Song: Poems for Children. 1985.
A poetry collection which recounts the feelings of Black children about their neighborhoods, American society, and themselves.
[Education Storage S.811 G439S1985]

Greenfield, Eloise.
Angels. 1998.
A collection of poems which show angels guiding, comforting, and protecting Afro-American children during milestones in their lives as well as in the course of everyday activities.
[Education Storage S.811 G837a]

Grimes, Nikki.
When Gorilla Goes Walking. 2007.
In this collection of rhyming poems, Gorilla the cat enjoys answering the telephone, eating soul food, and sharing mischievous adventures with her young owner.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 G882wh]

Hughes, Langston.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. 2007.
A collection of sixty-six poems, selected by the author for young readers, including lyrical poems, songs, and blues, many exploring the black experience.
[Education S Collection S.811 H874d2007]

Hughes, Langston.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers. 2009.
The famous poem, taken from the collected poems of Langston Hughes, illustrated with watercolors.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 H8745n]

Lewis, J. Patrick.
Freedom like Sunlight: Praisesongs for Black Americans. 2000.
Presents poems and brief biographical notes about such well-known African Americans as: Arthur Ashe, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Louis Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Jr., “Satchel” Paige, Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, Marian Anderson, Malcolm X, Wilma Rudolph, and Billie Holiday.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 L587f]

Medina, Tony.
DeShawn Days. 2001.
The author draws from his own experiences growing up in the projects to create the story of DeShawn Williams, his grandmother who helps him with his homework, and his cousin Tiffany, who shares in his laughter and adventures.
[Education S Collection S.811 M468d]

Muse, Daphne (compiler).
The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance. 2006.
Includes an introduction to the Harlem Renaissance (1917-1935) and brief biographies of the poets.
[Education S Collection S.811 En85]

Myers, Walter Dean.
Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices. 2004.
Acclaimed writer Walter Dean Myers celebrates the people of Harlem with these powerful and soulful first-person poems in the voices of the residents who make up the legendary neighborhood: basketball players, teachers, mail carriers, jazz artists, maids, veterans, nannies, students, and more. Exhilarating and electric, these poems capture the energy and resilience of a neighborhood and a people.
[Education S Collection S.811 M992h]

Newton, Vanessa.
Let Freedom Sing. 2009.
Simple poetry pays tribute to African Americans who struggled for civil rights.
[Education S Collection Q. S.811 N488l]

Okutoro, Lydia Omolala.
Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets. 2002.
This stunning poetry collection encourages readers from all cultures to explore the many threads of their own ancestral roots. Marker poems by well-known poets, such as Langston Hughes, introduce each themed section of the book.
[Education Storage S.811.08 Q4]

Rochelle, Belinda (compiler).
Words with Wings: a Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art. 2001.
Pairs twenty works of art by African-American artists with twenty poems by twenty African-American poets.
[Education Storage Q. S.811.08 W891]

Shange, Ntozake.
We Troubled the Waters: Poems. 2009.
Poetry and paintings in tribute to the many individuals who acted with courage for justice and change during the civil rights movement.
[Education S Collection S.811 Sh182w]

Thomas, Joyce Carol.
Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea: Poems. 1993
This book includes a dozen lyrical poems exploring issues of African-American identity through delicately interwoven images.
[Education Storage Q. S.811 T364br]

Jack Prelutsky — The First Children’s Poet Laureate

This month, children’s author and poet Jack Prelutsky will celebrate his 67th birthday. He will also mark the halfway point in his two year tenure as the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate. Newly created by the Poetry Foundation in 2006, the Children’s Poet Laureate award “aims to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and are its most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.”* Prelutsky was awarded the honor last year in recognition of over 40 years of delighting young and older readers with his witty, wacky rhymes on everything from nightmares to noses (and some very unusual creatures in between). His works have been translated into several languages and sold millions of copies worldwide.

*[Poetry Foundation]

Want to know more?
Visit the author’s website for poems, photos, and answers to frequently asked questions

View a 15 minute interview with Jack at the Reading Rockets website

Jack Prelutsky in the Education S-Collection.
The following list is a selection of Prelutsky’s award winning works, and some of his most recent offerings. For a complete list of the UIUC library’s holdings, enter the terms “Prelutsky, Jack” into an author search in the online catalog.

Awful Ogre’s Awful Day. 2001.
In a series of poems, Awful Ogre rises, grooms himself, dances, pens a letter, and goes through other activities as the day passes.
[Education Storage: Q.S.811 P915a]

Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant: And Other Poems. 2006
An illustrated collection of humorous poems on a variety of topics.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.811 P915b]

Beneath a Blue Umbrella: Rhymes. 1987.
A collection of short humorous poems in which a hungry hippo raids a melon stand, a butterfly tickles a girl’s nose, and children frolic in a Mardi Gras parade.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915b]

The Dragons are Singing Tonight. 1993.
A collection of poems about dragons, including “I’m an Amiable Dragon,” “If You Don’t Believe in Dragons,” and “A Dragon is My Computer.”
[Education Storage: Q.S. 811 P915D]

The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders: Rhymes. 2002.
Here are poems about people and animals, set in such far-flung places as Minot, Minneapolis, Tuscaloosa, Tucumcari, and the Grand Canyon.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.811 P915f]

The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight: More Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. 1980.
Presents 12 scary poems.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915h]

If Not For the Cat: Haiku. 2004.
Haiku-like poems describe a variety of animals.
[Education S-Collection: S.811 P915i]

It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles: Poems. 2000.
A collection of humorous poems such as “The Dancing Hippopotami,” “You Can’t Make Me Eat That,” “My Father’s Name is Sasquatch,” and “Dear Wumbledeedumble.”
[Education S-Collection: S.811 P915itr2000]

The New Kid on the Block: Poems. 1984.
Humorous poems about such strange creatures and people as Baloney Belly Billy and the Gloopy Gloopers.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915ne]

Nightmares: Poems to Trouble Your Sleep. 1976.
Twelve poems featuring a vampire, werewolf, ghoul, and other monsters.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915N]

The Snopp on the Sidewalk, and Other Poems. 1977.
Twelve poems about snopps, grobbles, flonsters, and other fantastic creatures.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915S]

Something Big Has Been Here. 1990.
An illustrated collection of humorous poems on a variety of topics.
[Education Storage: S.811 P915so]

Wild Witches’ Ball. 2004.
A tall witch, a round witch, a silly witch too. Some are spooky, some are cute, and one wears go-go boots! They have gathered for their ball. Why not try to count them all?
[Education S-Collection: SE.P91w]

Poetry + Math = Fun!

“Words and images are the keys to communicating mathematical reasoning and insight. These tools can connect math with a world of things — real and imaginary — that matter to kids and have the power to make math intuitive, clear, and meaningful. It is through these connections that math can become a familiar, friendly, and fun part of life.”
(Greg Tang, Literacy Connections)

“Though poetry and math may seem to be unrelated, there are parallels such as rhythmic language and language skills. Reading and writing poetry about math involves students with listening, speaking, reading, and writing in order to develop and demonstrate an understanding of mathematical concepts and relationships.” (LaBonty & Danielson, 2004)

April has the challenge of playing host to both National Poetry Month and Math Awareness Month. While these two subjects may seem worlds apart, many researchers and educators have advocated for the benefits of using poems in math instruction. The following articles offer further insight into how poetry and math can be combined to help children increase their language skills and understanding of mathematical concepts:

Altieri, J. L. (2005). Creating poetry: Reinforcing mathematical concepts. Teaching Children Mathematics, 12(1), 18-23.

Bay-Williams, J. M. (2005). Poetry in motion: Using Shel Silverstein’s works to engage students in mathematics. Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, 10(8), 386-393.

Curcio, F. R., Zarnowski, M., & Vigliarolo, S. (1995). Mathematics and poetry: Problem solving in context. Teaching Children Mathematics, 1, 370-374.

Keller, R., & Davidson, D. (2001). The math poem: Incorporating mathematical terms in poetry. Mathematics Teacher, 94(5), 342-347.

LaBonty, J., & Danielson, K. (2004). Reading and writing poetry in math. Reading Horizons, 45(1), 39-54.

Tang, G. (2006). Poems in math class? yeah, write! Retrieved March 31, 2007.
Math Poems in the Library
Aside from the educational benefits, math poems can be lots of fun! The following books of Math poems, riddles, and counting rhymes can be found in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library:

Tang, Greg.
Math Appeal. 2003.
Rhyming anecdotes present opportunities for simple math activities and hints for solving.
[Education S-Collection: S.510 T156ma]

Tang, Greg.
The Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles. 2001.
lllustrated riddles introduce strategies for solving a variety of math problems in using visual clues.
[Education S-Collection: S.793.74 T156g]

Tang, Greg.
Math Fables: Lessons that Count. 2004.
A series of rhymes about animals introduces counting and grouping numbers, as well as examples of such behaviors as cooperation, friendship, and appreciation.
[Education S-Collection: S.513.2 T156m]

Tang, Greg.
Math Potatoes: More Mind Stretching Math Riddles. 2005.
Math combines with pictures, riddles, and poems.
[Education S-Collection: S.793.74 T156m]

Tang, Greg.
Math-terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving. 2003.
A series of rhymes about artists and their works introduces counting and grouping numbers, as well as such artistic styles as cubism, pointillism, and surrealism.
[Education S-Collection: S.510 T156m]

Tang, Greg.
Math for All Seasons. 2002.
[Center for Children’s Books: S.513 T156m]

Franco, Betsy.
Mathematickles! 2003.
A collection of poems written in the form of mathematical problems and grouped according to seasonal themes.
[Education S-Collection: Q.S.811 F8483m]

Ziefert, Harriet.
Mother Goose Math. 1997.
A collection of nursery rhymes, each with a numerical theme.
[Education Storage: Q.S.398.8 Z62m]

Sandburg, Carl.
Arithmetic. 1993.
A poem about numbers and their characteristics. Features anamorphic, or distorted, drawings which can be restored to normal by viewing from a particular angle or by viewing the image’s reflection in the provided Mylar cone.
[Rare Book & Manuscript Library: SNDBBRG 811 Sa49ar]

McKellar, Shona.
Counting Rhymes. 1993.
A collection of poems, including “One Little Finger,” “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing By,” and “This Old Man,” each featuring different numbers.
[Education Storage: Q.S. 398.84 C832]

Jacobs, Allan D.
Arithmetic in Verse and Rhyme. 1971.
Rhymes about the concept of numbers, rhymes in which one must subtract and add, and rhymes that pose mathematical riddles and problems.
[Education Storage: S.398.84 J151a]

Atherlay, Sara.
Math in the Bath (And Other Fun Places Too!) 1995.
These poems features math throughout the school day (in music, art, social studies, recess) and math at home as well (dividing a pizza, bubbles in the bath). The book ends with a list of mathematical concepts found each day, a perfect invitation for further reading about math. (LaBonty & Danielson, 2004).
[Education Storage: S.649.68 AT42M]

Lewis, J Patrick.
Arithme-tickle: An Even Number of Odd Riddle-Rhymes. 2002.
Rhyming text and illustrations present a variety of math problems.
[Center for Children’s Books: S.513 L5873a]

Hopkins, Lee Bennett.
Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems. 1997.
Presents such poems as “Math Makes Me Feel Safe,” “Fractions,” “Pythagoras,” and “Time Passes,” by such writers as Janet S. Wong, Lee Bennett Hopkins, and Ilo Orleans.
[Center for Children’s Books: Q.S.811 M368]

Right in Your Own Backyard: Nature Math. 1992.
Stories, poems, activities, and games introduce readers to the rich array of math to be found in our own backyards.
[Education Storage: Q.S. 510 R449]
Math Poems on the Web
Check out these web sites for more fun with math and poetry!

Mr. R’s Math Poems

Poetry Math

Math Songs & Poems

Chocolate Math

Mathematical Poetry