Monday, April 11, 2016

A Poetry Lesson

This poem is rich with meaning and things to talk about, and is a wonderful introduction to personification. 

Here is how you might use it with your students. 

Introduce the word personification. Highlight the word person within the word personification and share that personification means to give human characteristics to something that is not human. It is a writing technique that J. Patrick Lewis uses in his poem.

Give each student a copy of the poem "Are You a Book Person?" from the book Please Bury Me in the Library and read it aloud. Ask students to read it again and circle the various ways in which the author compares a book to a person. 

After a few minutes, have students share with an elbow buddy, allowing them to learn from each other and revise their findings. 

Share out. What do all these things mean? 

The third-grade students I worked with started with basic comparisons like “A book has a spine, and a person has a spine in their back.” Their thoughts turned more insightful with “The heart, it’s like the middle of the book, where the excitement happens” or  “The heart is the part of the book that makes you feel something.” “Maybe the soul is the part of the book that stays with you forever.” Wow! 

After discussing what the personification discoveries might mean, we ended with inferring what J. Patrick Lewis’s purpose might be. What does he want us to take away from this poem, and how do we know? 

At the end of the lesson, every student agreed that they liked the poem better and understood it at a deeper level as a result of rereading and thinking more deeply about it.  

J. Patrick Lewis was kind enough to give me permission to share the poem with you in its entirety, so if you are interested, you can share it with your students as well.

Are You a Book Person?

A good book is a kind
Of person with a mind
Of her own,
Who lives alone, 
Standing on a shelf
By herself. 
She has a spine, 
A heart, a soul, 
And a goal.
To capture, to amuse,
To light a fire
(You're the fuse(),
Or else, joyfully,
Just to be,
From beginning
To end.
Need a friend?

~J. Patrick Lewis