Linda Kulp Trout

Thursday, May 27, 2010


I've wanted to blog about this book for some time, but keep getting sidetracked with other things. Well, here it is Thursday night and I'm knee-high in papers to grade and chores to do, but I wanted to share this book now so that teachers can put it on their summer reading list.

One of the best books I've found for teaching poetry is Betsy Franco's Conversations with a Poet: Inviting Poetry in K-12 Classrooms, Richard Owen Publishers, 2005. There's a lot to love about this book if you're a teacher or if you're someone who wants to learn more about writing poetry. One of the many things I love is that reading this book really does feel like you're having a conversation with Betsy.

Conversations with a Poet is divided into two sections. Section I is titled "Rationales and Practical Ideas for Teaching Poetry. It discusses teaching poetry from a poet's point of view. Many of our favorite children's poets (Lee Bennett Hopkins, Marilyn Singer, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Bobbi Katz, etc.) share information about their writing process and thoughts on poetry.

Here's a small sampling of what else you'll find in Section I: understanding rhyme and line breaks, revision, assessing poetry, and ways to present and publish student work. I especially love the chapter on the importance of teacher demonstration. I've never understood how someone who doesn't like to write could teach others to write. In my opinion, teacher modeling is essential. If you want them to write, you must write!

If you're a teacher, you're going to want to give Betsy Franco a huge hug! Section II is titled "Unpacking the Poetry Forms," and boy does she do a good job of showing us how to unpack them! This section contains 16 poetry forms with their historical information, characteristics of the form, everyday life parallels of the form, how the form meets objectives and curriculum standards, samples for various levels (primary, elementary, middle/high school), think throughs to get us in the mind of the poet, and a bibliography of other samples of the form. Didn't I tell you this book is a gem! Betsy knows how busy we teachers are, and she's given us everything we need to teach our students the joy of reading and writing poetry.

There is so much more I could say about Conversations with a Poet, but the timer on the dryer just went off, I have two cats demanding to be fed, and then there's those papers to grade (gulp!). This is a very quick overview. I wish I had this book when I first started teaching! I'm amazed at how many resources are packed in this one book. It's reader friendly, but most importantly, it's teacher friendly. Thank you Betsy Franco!


  1. It would be hard not to want to read a book that makes someone want to give the author a big hug! But you also managed to put in great examples before getting to the cats, laundry, and papers. I'm definitely going to look for this - thank you!

  2. Jeannine, thank you for your comment. Yes, it is a fabulous book worth it's weight in gold!

  3. Hugs and gold! I'm convinced! Thanks again

  4. Linda, I buy very few books these days, using the library instead. However, I could take exception to this book because your review makes it sound like a reference work to return to over and over again. Thanks!

    Laura Evans

  5. Laura, like most people I'm on a very tight budget. I have many books on my shelf that never get used, but I've returned to this one many times since I bought it. If you buy it, let me know what you think.