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Insights from the Intersection of Childhood and Education

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A 6th Grader Publishes Poetry

6th grader Joseph Vadnai shows off the anthology that published his poem.

How did 6th grader Joseph Vadnai (Jo-Jo) end up writing poetry, especially poetry that is good enough to get published? Particularly when he has struggled with reading? He says he was inspired by classical music. "Music is wordless; poetry lets me use my own words, but it's linked to music.," he explains. He has written reams of poems and, after doing that for a while, he wanted to "let people see my poems," so he began looking for outlets. He's been, of course, published in our school newspaper, The Globe, but, encouraged by his English teacher Ms. Levine, he found the American Library of Poetry. "I submitted to their contest because they said they would publish you even if you didn't win." And published he was!

How does he write his poems? "I just let myself think of a subject, and then I find the basic words to describe it and string them together." Jo-Jo plays the piano and lists Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn as his favorite composers. He doesn't read poetry per se, unless he's looking for ideas, but he does read a lot. He read Josephus's The Jewish War in 5th grade after he asked our library to buy it, and he says he learned a lot of words from reading it. Now that is not your standard text for a 5th grader! 

He usually writes poetry about animals and nature, he says, but "The Reading Trouble" beautifully captures his own struggles with learning how to read. "I didn't really read until 2nd grade. Reading over and over again with Mrs. Schiller and Debbie is what helped me in the end. All of a sudden, I could read in a flash." And now he not only reads, he not only writes, he gets published! He is also, mind you, the manager of our basketball team, and helps out in the library as one of our media interns.

The Reading Trouble
by Joseph Vadnai (6th grade)

As I tried to escape from the uproar of sound
I tried to read however letters flit and float before my eye
Though when my mind engulfs the book
Gradually the letters come to a halt.
However as the letters come to a halt what it says comes to life in my head.
In spite of that I love to read.
Though why does this happen?
This happens because I am disleksick.

Published in Treasured, an anthology by the American Library of Poetry

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rainbow City

A chain story is a story created by several participants. One child begins, chooses when to stop and points to the next child to continue. The following story was created by one of our 1st/2nd grade classes:

Rainbow City

There were tall buildings in a mystical city. It had rained and a wonderful rainbow had covered just one of the buildings. It was a magical rainbow. There were magical sea creatures on some of the seven floors. The two middle floors were covered with rainbow colored water that flowed to the sea. This building was so much of a problem that it was decided that the building needed to be torn down. But something strange happened when the new building was complete. The rainbow was still there! But now the rainbow was everywhere! It was all over the grass and the streets. It now covered the whole city. It was decided to rename the city. It was now going to be known as Rainbow City. 

As a nice wrap up to writing their own story, the kids then gathered with our librarian to read Harold and the Purple Crayon, a story about a small boy who creates his own path.