Copyright © 2018 J. Patrick Lewis. Compilation copyright © 2018 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, National Geographic Partners, LLC.

For Elementary Readers

The Poetry of US: More Than 200 Poems That Celebrate the People, Places, and Passions of the United States

Dive into the diverse wonders and people of our nation through distinctive poetic voices and stunning photographs.

Themes:

Elementary, Poetry

Apply in the Classroom

The editor of The Poetry of US and former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, admits that, of course, this collection leaves some things out. It’s a big county! But that’s where your students come in. Let them have a say about their country or their neighborhood in a poem of their own. First, read aloud a variety of the poems from The Poetry of US and get them thinking about what the poems show them. Then get them writing in any poetic form they choose about a place special to them—where they live or a place they’ve visited. Get them to share their poetry by having students:

  • read each other’s poetry aloud before reading their own poems aloud to special guests
  • write out their poems in sidewalk chalk and invite guests to take a walk through their outdoor poetry gallery
  • take or find photographs to illustrate their poems and create a slide show to share throughout your school.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

How is a poem about a place different than a story about a place? What are some differences between the way stories and poems look and sound?

Tell about a place that inspires you. What are some of the special things you’ve noticed about that place?

When you listen to a poem, how does the picture in your mind look compared to the photograph in the book?

Close your eyes and think of a place. What do you see, hear, and smell? What is happening there? How do you feel? Draw the picture you have in your mind and then explain it to a partner.

Related Teaching Resources

Rhyme and Reason: Multicultural Rhyming Books for All Children booklist from CCBC

Poetry Atlas maps poems written about anywhere and everywhere

Bringing Poetry to the Classroom from NEA

Colorin Colorado offers advice and ideas for Writing Poetry with English Language Learners

More Titles to Try

Blue Sky White Stars by Sarvinder Naberhaus

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes and Bryan Collier

One Today by Richard Blanco

My America by Jan Spivey Gilchrist

The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller

We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart by Walter Dean Myers

More