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Poetry Month 2023 on the Podcast

Updated: May 1, 2023

April is National Poetry Month. I'm excited to be joined throughout the month by a great group of poets (a plurality of poets?) to share poems they've written for kids like you!

I'll update this post throughout the month as new episodes release.

DAY 01: Keila Dawson Shares a Poem About Earth

Keila V. Dawson ( writes fiction and nonfiction picture books. She is co-editor of NO VOICE TOO SMALL: FOURTEEN YOUNG AMERICANS MAKING HISTORY and the forthcoming NO WORLD TOO BIG: YOUNG PEOPLE FIGHTING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. Dawson is the author of OPENING THE ROAD: VICTOR HUGO GREEN and HIS GREEN BOOK, THE KING CAKE BABY, and the forthcoming YUMBO GUMBO. A New Orleans native, Dawson has also lived and worked in states across the U.S., and in the Philippines, Japan, and Egypt. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Awards and honors for her books include an International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, National Council of Social Studies and National Council of Teachers of English Notable book, a Kirkus star, featured on New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Bank Street, John F. Kennedy Library and Kirkus Best Books lists, a two-time Ohioana finalist, Jane Addams finalist, a 2023 Charlotte Award and 2023-24 Louisiana Readers’ Choice Award nominee.

When Dawson isn’t reading, writing, and visiting schools, she’s traveling or playing tennis, or digging in genealogical archives. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

The poem Keila shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Fans of No Voice Too Small will be inspired by young climate activists who made an impact around climate change in their communities, countries, and beyond.

Climate change impacts everyone, but the future belongs to young people. No World Too Big celebrates twelve young activists and three activist groups on front lines of the climate crisis who have planted trees in Uganda, protected water in Canada, reduced school-bus climate footprint in Indonesia, invented alternate power sources in Ohio, and more. Fourteen poems by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, David Bowles, Rajani LaRocca, Renée LaTulippe, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, and others honor activists from all over the world and the United States. Additional text goes into detail about each activist's life and how readers can get involved.

DAY 02: Lindsay Metcalf Shares a Poem About Composting

Lindsay H. Metcalf ( is a journalist and award-winning author of nonfiction picture books: Beatrix Potter, Scientist, a Mighty Girl Best Book of 2020 and Young People’s Literature Award winner from the Friends of American Writers Chicago; Farmers Unite! Planting a Protest for Fair Prices, a Kansas Notable Book, Friends of American Writers honoree, NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book, and Junior Library Guild selection; and No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, a Kirkus and Chicago Public Library Best Book, Notable Social Studies Trade Book, and NCTE Notable Poetry Book. Forthcoming titles include No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change, a poetry anthology from the team behind No Voice Too Small (Charlesbridge, spring 2023); and Outdoor Farm, Indoor Farm, illustrated by Xin Li (Astra Young Readers, spring 2024). Lindsay lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two old cats, and a snoring Cavalier King Charles dog.

The poem Lindsay shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley.

DAY 03: Vanessa Brantley Newton Shares a Poem About Self-Love

Vanessa Brantley-Newton ( is a self-taught illustrator, doll maker, and crafter who studied fashion illustration at FIT and children’s book illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. She is the author and illustrator of Grandma’s Purse, Just Like Me, and Becoming Vanessa, and has illustrated numerous children’s books, including the New York Times bestsellers The King of Kindergarten and The Queen of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes. Vanessa currently makes her nest in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and a very rambunctious cat named Stripes.

The poem Vanessa shares is from Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley Newton

An ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between, this exquisite treasury will appeal to readers of Dear Girl and I Am Enough and have kids poring over it to find a poem that's just for them.

I am a canvas

Being painted on

By the words of my family


And community

From Vanessa Brantley-Newton, the author of Grandma's Purse, comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don't; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father. With bright portraits in Vanessa's signature style of vibrant colors and unique patterns and fabrics, this book invites readers to find themselves and each other within its pages.

DAY 04: Robert Schechter Shares a Silly Poem About a Horse

Robert Schechter ( released his debut book of children's poems, "THE RED EAR BLOWS ITS NOSE: Poems for Children and Others" (April 2023), and has earned starred reviews in Kirkus Review, School Library Journal, and Booklist. His poems and translations have appeared in Highlights for Children, High Five, Cricket, Ladybug, Spider, The Caterpillar, The Washington Post, The Spectator, Salon, The Evansville Review, and many other journal and anthologies. Robert was the winner of the XJ Kennedy Parody Award for 2016 and the 2019 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize.

The poem Robert shares is from The Red Ear Blows Its Nose: Poems for Children and Others by Robert Schechter; illustrated by S. Frederico

The Red Ear Blows Its Nose is "a dazzling tour de force" (Kenn Nesbitt). Often hilarious, always thoughtful, this debut collection from award-winning poet Robert Schechter proves that he is "clearly one of the most accomplished poets writing for children today" (Valerie Bloom MBE). Complemented by S. Federico's charming illustrations, The Red Ear Blows Its Nose will delight both children and adults alike, and is destined to become a classic, standing alongside A Child's Garden of Verses, Now We Are Six, and Where the Sidewalk Ends on children's and library bookshelves for years to come.

DAY 05: Lisa Fipps Shares a Poem About Food and Body Acceptance

With her debut middle-grade novel, Starfish, Lisa Fipps ( won 13 awards, including the 2022 Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award, and the novel in verse was selected for 37 state award/book lists. She’s done virtual and in-person author visits with thousands of children in America, Canada, and China, in addition to being a guest speaker and panelist at festivals and conferences. Starfish has been translated into Turkish, Korean, and Spanish, and will soon be coming out in other languages. Her second middle-grade novel in verse will be released in spring 2024. Lisa is also an award-winning former journalist, and an award-winning former library marketing director. She currently lives in Indiana and lived in Texas.

The poem Lisa shares is from Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she's been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules--like "no making waves," "avoid eating in public," and "don't move so fast that your body jiggles." And she's found her safe space--her swimming pool--where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It's also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie's weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life--by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

DAY 06: Andrea J. Loney Shares a Poem About Activism in Response to Gun Violence

Andrea J. Loney ( wrote the award-winning picture books DOUBLE BASS BLUES (Caldecott Honor), and TAKE A PICTURE OF ME, JAMES VANDERZEE (Lee and Low Books New Voices Award and NAACP Image Award Nominee). Her most recent books include the picture book biography CURVE & FLOW, THE ELEGANT VISION OF L.A. ARCHITECT PAUL R. WILLIAMS, the middle-grade biography VIP: STACY ABRAMS - VOTING VISIONARY, and the futuristic chapter book series ABBY IN ORBIT. Andrea lives in Los Angeles with stacks of books, her devoted family, and their incredibly spoiled pets.

The poem Andrea shares is from No Voice Too Small: Fourteen Young Americans Making History, edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Fans of We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices will love meeting fourteen young activists who have stepped up to make change in their community and the United States.

Mari Copeny demanded clean water in Flint. Jazz Jennings insisted, as a transgirl, on playing soccer with the girls' team. From Viridiana Sanchez Santos's quinceañera demonstration against anti-immigrant policy to Zach Wahls's moving declaration that his two moms and he were a family like any other, No Voice Too Small celebrates the young people who know how to be the change they seek. Fourteen poems honor these young activists. Featuring poems by Lesléa Newman, Traci Sorell, and Nikki Grimes. Additional text goes into detail about each youth activist's life and how readers can get involved.

DAY 07: Irene Latham Shares a Poem About a Cat Inspired by a Work of Art

Irene Latham ( is a grateful creator of many novels, poetry collections, and picture books, but her first love is poetry. Her poetry books include Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, which earned a Charlotte Huck Honor, and African Town, winner of the 2023 Scott O'Dell Award, both co-written with her poetic-forever-friend Charles Waters. Winner of the 2016 Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, her next solo poetry book The Museum on the Moon: Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface will be released in August 2023. Irene lives with her husband on a lake in rural Alabama, where their favorite neighbors are a pair of bald eagles.

The poem Irene shares is from This Poem is a Nest by Irene Latham; illustrated by Johanna Wright

This beautiful poetry collection introduces readers to the art of found poetry as the poet writes a 37-line poem, "Nest," then finds 160 smaller poems within it.

What can you find in a poem about a robin's nest? Irene Latham masterfully discovers "nestlings" or smaller poems about an astonishing variety of subjects--emotions, wild animals, natural landmarks on all seven continents, even planets and constellations. Each poem is a glorious spark of wonder that will prompt readers to look at the world afresh. The book includes an introduction detailing the principles of found poetry and blackout poetry, and a section of tips at the end. The joyous creativity in this volume is certain to inspire budding poets.

DAY 08: Chris Baron Shares a Poem About Shyness

Chris Baron ( is the award-winning author of novels for children including ALL OF ME, an NCTE Notable Book, THE MAGICAL IMPERFECT, a Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book/ a SLJ Best Book of 2021 & the forthcoming novels, THE GRAY (23) FOREST HEART (24) from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, and SECRET OF THE DRAGON GEMS, a Middle Grade novel co-authored with Rajani LaRocca from Little Bee Books (23) and editor of ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS: A MIDDLE GRADE PASSOVER ANTHOLOGY, from Abrams (24), He is a Professor of English at San Diego City College and the director of the Writing Center. He grew up in New York City, but he completed his MFA in Poetry in 1998 at SDSU. HE lives in San Diego with his family.

The poem Chris shares is from The Magical Imperfect by Chris Baron

Etan has stopped speaking since his mother left. His father and grandfather don't know how to help him. His friends have given up on him.

When Etan is asked to deliver a grocery order to the outskirts of town, he realizes he's at the home of Malia Agbayani, also known as the Creature. Malia stopped going to school when her acute eczema spread to her face, and the bullying became too much.

As the two become friends, other kids tease Etan for knowing the Creature. But he believes he might have a cure for Malia's condition, if only he can convince his family and hers to believe it too. Even if it works, will these two outcasts find where they fit in?

DAY 09: Reem Faruqi Shares a Poem About Taking Something That Doesn’t Belong to You

Reem Faruqi ( is the award-winning children’s book author of “Lailah’s Lunchbox,” a book based on her own experiences as a young Muslim girl immigrating to the United States. She’s also the author of “Amira’s Picture Day,” “I Can Help,” “Milloo’s Mind,” “Anisa’s International Day,” and three middle grade novels in verse, “Unsettled,” “Golden Girl,” and “Call Me Adnan,” many of which received starred reviews. After surviving Atlanta traffic and the school drop off, Reem spends her days trying to write, but instead gets distracted easily by her camera and buttery sunlight. Reem Faruqi lives in Atlanta with her husband and three daughters.

The poem Reem shares is from Golden Girl by Reem Faruqi

From the award-winning, ALA Notable author of Unsettled and Lailah's Lunchbox, this is a captivating coming-of-age middle grade novel in verse about seventh grader Aafiyah Qamar, a Pakistani American girl who hatches a special plan to help her family but finds that doing what's right isn't always easy. For fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and Clean Getaway, this is a heartfelt, soul-searching story with laughter, hope, and lessons learned.

Seventh grader Aafiyah loves playing tennis, reading Weird but True facts, and hanging out with her best friend, Zaina. However, Aafiyah has a bad habit that troubles her--she's drawn to pretty things and can't help but occasionally "borrow" them.

But when her father is falsely accused of a crime he hasn't committed and gets taken in by authorities, Aafiyah knows she needs to do something to help. When she brainstorms a way to bring her father back, she turns to her Weird but True facts and devises the perfect plan.

But what if her plan means giving in to her bad habit, the one she's been trying to stop? Aafiyah wants to reunite her family but finds that maybe her plan isn't so perfect after all.

DAY 10: Suzy Levinson Shares a Poem About Animals in Pants

Suzy Levinson ( is a children's writer and poet. Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies, journals, and children's magazines. ANIMALS IN PANTS (Cameron Kids/Abrams 2023) is her debut picture book.

When she's not writing (or reading!), she enjoys going on walks, taking pictures, watching movies, and sliding around her apartment in socks, singing whatever ridiculous songs pop into her head. She lives in New York with her husband and most excellent cat.

The poem Suzy shares is from Animals in Pants by Suzy Levinson; illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell

An irreverently illustrated picture book of simple and silly poems featuring all kinds of animals wearing all kinds of pants

What? You've never seen animals in pants? A dog in yoga pants, a goat in overalls, a yak in slacks? Animals in Pants presents a parade of impeccable poems about animals wearing perfectly pressed pants.

DAY 11: Teresa Robeson Shares a Poem About a Bio Bus

Teresa Robeson ( is an author of children's books, and an occasional illustrator, with a focus on science and her cultural heritage. Her work has won the APALA Picture Book Award, a NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommendation, and an International Reading Association Nonfiction Picture Book Honor. She lives with her family on 27-acres in rural Indiana where she relaxes by birding, keeping up with science, making soap, knitting, baking, and trying to impress the chickens with her bilingualism.

The poem Teresa shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley.

DAY 12: Lyn Miller-Lachmann Shares a Poem About the Pain of Leaving Someone Behind

Lyn Miller-Lachmann ( is an author and translator of books for children and teens. Among her recent works are the YA historical novel Torch, a 2023 Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature and a 2022 Booklist Editors' Choice, and the verse novel Moonwalking, which she co-authored with Zetta Elliott, a 2022 New York Public Library Best Book for Kids among other honors. She translates picture books, verse novels, and graphic novels from Portuguese to English, with the YA graphic novel Pardalita, by Joana Estrela, launching on April 18.

Zetta Elliott ( is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. Her poetry has been published in We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices, and her picture book, Bird, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books' New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. Her picture book, A Place Inside of Me (FSG Young Readers) was heralded as a "resonant exultation of community and the importance of self-reflection." She lives in West Philadelphia.

The poem Lyn shares is from Moonwalking by Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann

For fans of Jason Reynolds and Jacqueline Woodson, this middle-grade novel-in-verse follows two boys in 1980s Brooklyn as they become friends for a season.

Punk rock-loving JJ Pankowski can't seem to fit in at his new school in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as one of the only white kids. Pie Velez, a math and history geek by day and graffiti artist by night is eager to follow in his idol, Jean-Michel Basquiat's, footsteps. The boys stumble into an unlikely friendship, swapping notes on their love of music and art, which sees them through a difficult semester at school and at home. But a run-in with the cops threatens to unravel it all.

From authors Zetta Elliott and Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Moonwalking is a stunning exploration of class, cross-racial friendships, and two boys' search for belonging in a city as tumultuous and beautiful as their hearts.

DAY 13: Meg Eden Kuyatt Shares a Poem About Being Overwhelmed with Emotion

Meg Eden Kuyatt ( teaches creative writing at colleges and writing centers. She is the author of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature winning poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World” (Press 53, 2020) and children’s novels, most recently “Good Different,” a JLG Gold Standard selection (Scholastic, 2023).

The poem Meg shares is from Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt

An extraordinary novel-in-verse for fans of Starfish and A Kind of Spark about a neurodivergent girl who comes to understand and celebrate her difference.

Selah knows her rules for being normal.

She always, always sticks to them. This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she can calm down. So that she has to tear off her normal-person mask the second she gets home from school, and listen to her favorite pop song on repeat, trying to recharge. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans, but she knows how to hide it.

Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.

Selah's friends pull away from her, her school threatens expulsion, and her comfortable, familiar world starts to crumble.

But as Selah starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn't mean damaged. Can she get her school to understand that, too, before it's too late?

DAY 14: Charles Waters Shares a Poem About Forgiving Ourselves

Charles Waters ( is a children’s poet, actor, educator, and co-author (with Irene Latham) of CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? POEMS OF RACE, MISTAKES, AND FRIENDSHIP (which earned a Charlotte Huck Honor.); AFRICAN TOWN (which won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction); DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD: POEMS, QUOTES AND ANECDOTES FROM A – Z; and BE A BRIDGE.

The poem Charles shares is from Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters; illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini

How can we make the world a better place?

This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a "try it" prompt for an activity. This second poetic collaboration from Irene Latham and Charles Waters builds upon themes of diversity and inclusiveness from their previous book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Illustrations from Iranian-British artist Mehrdokht Amini offer readers a rich visual experience.

DAY 15: Laura Shovan Shares a Poem About How Overwhelming Feelings Can Be

Laura Shovan ( 's award-winning children’s books include The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, Takedown, and A Place at the Table, written with Saadia Faruqi. Laura is a longtime poet-in-the-schools. She also teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her latest poetry collection for kids is Welcome to Monsterville, illustrated by Michael Rothenberg.

The poem Laura shares is from Welcome to Monsterville by Laura Shovan; illustrated by Michael Rothenberg

Welcome to Monsterville, where the residents are anything but ordinary. The monsters here are "friendly! thoughtful! shy and scary," much like their human neighbors. Readers will meet a monster house who plays hopscotch and makes the sidewalks quake, laugh at a bubblegum-headed monster's epic tantrum, and cry with a monster called Sadness.

This quirky collection of illustrated poems is a celebration of friendship, emotional intelligence, and creative play as a form of healing.

DAY 16: Heidi Stemple Shares a Poem About Solar Power

Heidi E. Y. Stemple ( didn’t want to be a writer when she grew up. In fact, after she graduated from college, she became a probation officer in Florida. It wasn’t until she was 28 years old that she gave in and joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published more than thirty-five books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.

Heidi lives and writes on a big old farm in Massachusetts that she shares with one very large cat who lives inside, and a dozen deer, a family of bears, three coyotes, two bobcats, a gray fox, tons of birds, and some very fat groundhogs who live outside. Once a year she calls owls for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

The poem Heidi shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley.

DAY 17: Thushanthi Ponweera Shares a Poem About Feeling Beautiful

Thushanthi Ponweera ( is an author and poet from Sri Lanka. Before daring to follow her dream of being published, she was a marketing specialist and entreprenuer. Her writing reflects the frustration she feels at the inequality and injustice she sees around her, and also the deep love she feels for her island home.

Thush's debut middle-grade verse novel I am Kavi is forthcoming from Holiday House in Fall 2023. She is a 2021 We Need Diverse Books Mentee and blogs for SCBWI and WNDB.

The poem Thush shares is from I Am Kavi by Thushanthi Ponweera

Caught between two worlds--a poverty-stricken village and a fancy big-city school--a young Sri Lankan girl must decide who she really is and where she really belongs.

1998, Colombo. The Sri Lankan Civil War is raging, but everyday life must go on. At Kavi's school, her friends talk about the weekly Top 40, the Backstreet Boys, Shahrukh Khan, Leo & Kate... and who died--or didn't--in the latest bombing. But Kavi is afraid of something even scarier. She fears that if her friends discover her secret--that she is not who she is pretending to be--they'll stop talking to her.

I want to be friends with these / happy, / fearless, / girls / who look like they / belong.

So I could also be / happy, / fearless, / and maybe even / belong.

Kavi's scholarship to her elite new school was supposed to be everything she ever wanted, but as she tries to find some semblance of normalcy in a country on fire, nothing is going according to plan. In an effort to fit in with her wealthy, glittering, and self-assured new classmates, Kavi begins telling lies, trading her old life--where she's a poor girl whose mother has chosen a new husband over her daughter--for a new one, where she's rich, loved, and wanted. This dazzling novel-in-verse from an astonishing new talent introduces readers to a world rarely seen in middle grade, and stars a deeply moving everygirl each and every one of us can relate to.

That's when it comes crashing down on me. / I have been spending all my time / since I came here / preparing for the / wrong / test.

DAY 18: JaNay Brown-Wood Shares a Poem About the Power to Make a Change

JaNay Brown-Wood, PhD, ( is an award-winning children’s author, poet, educator, and scholar. Her first children’s book Imani’s Moon won the NAESP Children’s Book of the Year Award and was featured on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show and Storytime with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and her second book Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story! received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and won the CELI Read Aloud Book Award. JaNay is also the author of the popular picture book series Where in the Garden (Peachtree Publishing), four Chicken Soup for the Soul Babies/Kids books, Crayola’s Follow That Line! Magic at Your Fingertips (Kids Can Press, 2022), and the New York Times Bestselling book Why Not You? (Penguin/Random House) which she collaborated with Ciara and Russel Wilson. She has many more books, both published and in the pipeline, including a series of chapter books called Love Puppies (Scholastic).

The poem JaNay shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley.

DAY 19: Rajani LaRocca Shares a Poem About Insecurities and About Protection

Rajani LaRocca ( was born in India, raised in Kentucky, and now lives in the Boston area, where she practices medicine and writes award-winning books for young readers, including the Newbery Honor winning middle grade novel in verse, Red, White, and Whole. She’s always been an omnivorous reader, and now she is an omnivorous writer of fiction and nonfiction, novels and picture books, prose and poetry. She finds inspiration in her family, her childhood, the natural world, math, science, and just about everywhere she looks. She also co-hosts the STEM Women in KidLit Podcast.

The poem Rajani shares is from Mirror to Mirror by Rajani LaRocca

Rajani LaRocca, recipient of a Newbery Honor and Walter Award for Red, White, and Whole, is back with an evocative novel in verse about identical twin sisters who do everything together--until external pressures threaten to break them apart.

Maya is the pragmatic twin, but her secret anxiety threatens to overwhelm her.

Chaya is the outgoing twin. When she sees her beloved sister suffering, she wants to tell their parents--which makes Maya feel completely betrayed. With Maya shutting her out, Chaya makes a dramatic change to give her twin the space she seems to need. But that's the last thing Maya wants, and the girls just drift further apart.

The once-close sisters can't seem to find their rhythm, so they make a bet: they'll switch places at their summer camp, and whoever can keep the ruse going longer will get to decide where they both attend high school--the source of frequent arguments. But stepping into each other's shoes comes with its own difficulties, and the girls don't know how they're going to make it.

This emotional, lyrical story will speak to fans of Ali Benjamin, Padma Venkatraman, and Jasmine Warga.

DAY 20: Sally J. Pla Shares a Poem About Speaking Up

Sally J. Pla ( writes award-winning books for young people, including the novels The Someday Birds, Stanley Will Probably Be Fine, and The Fire, The Water, and Maudie McGinn (July 2023), as well as the picture book Benji, The Bad Day, And Me. Sally's also an autism advocate. She runs A Novel Mind, a web resource on neurodiversity and mental health representation in children's lit. She has English degrees from Colgate and Penn State and has worked as a business journalist and in public education.

The poem Sally shares is from No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change edited by Lindsay H. Metcalf, Keila V. Dawson, and Jeanette Bradley; illustrated by Jeanette Bradley.

DAY 21: Padma Venkatraman Shares a Poem About Catnaps

Padma Venkatraman ( was once a scientist and is now a storyteller and poet. Two of her poems have been published by the Poetry Foundation in Poetry Magazine, and another poem of hers was shortlisted for the Pushcart Prize. One of her five published novels, A TIME TO DANCE, is a novel in verse. She also loves contributing to anthologies such as the one in which her poem Nap was published - and her favorite place to take a catnap is in the sunshine on the deck of a vessel, sailing a calm sea!

The poem Padma shares is from Things We Do edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

What things do we love to do? In this book you'll find poems from A to Z, featuring action words and photos that will make kids eager to CLAP, DANCE, JUMP, LAUGH, WAVE, ZOOM, and more as you read the playful poems. This poetry anthology is ideal for students in preschool through Grade 2 and can be shared by families at home or by teachers in classrooms. Parents, caregivers, and educators will find useful tips and resources to help make learning even more fun. This book will also be a favorite resource in an ELL classroom. Pomelo Books is "Poetry PLUS"!

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Keila!!! Loved hearing you read your poem! And I'm loving NO WORLD TOO BIG!! 😊

Matthew  Winner
Matthew Winner
Apr 08, 2023
Replying to

Such a terrific book, right?!I love seeing so many young climate activists celebrated. AND through poetry, no less!

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