A friend who's just finishing Teacher's College wrote: "Your spine poems are the best!! They make me smile. I wonder if this would be a good way to get kids into poetry? It's like a combination of playing with blocks and creative writing." I hadn't thought of the kinesthetic learners in all of this, but it makes perfect sense. It speaks to the tactile learner, because you physically have to move the books around to get it just right. And for those who don't feel creative? You don't have to come up with the words, just connect them. It's pretty easy to have fun doing it this way, especially with picture books. Which means that I see it as a great way to get kids interacting with books in general, not just poetry. Works on all kinds of levels!
Another friend who works with Kindergarten kids, among other grades, told me she had shown some of the poems to the elementary students. At first, I was like, "huh?" It made sense to share them with high school students, but younger than that? But she had used the two that were based on fairy tales, and the nursery rhyme one would work, too. She used them to show how you can tell and re-tell a story simply by using the narrative elements and hitting the big parts of the story. I hadn't thought of that. What a great way to have children identify the big picture ideas, and not have to get bogged down in spelling or vocabulary of the smaller words. Expressing ideas. Isn't that the main point of writing, after all?
An intro to the library
While one friend pointed out that letting a whole class loose in the library to make spine poems would create a nightmare for whoever has to re-shelve the books, there is at least one school where the librarian is brave enough to try it. From a high-school teacher friend: "FYI the spine poetry got a lot of cool comments from the adults I showed to as well. Our librarian decided to try that next year for the intro to the library we do with the 9s. She'll challenge them to make a poem thus getting them interacting with the books right away. Also planning to display some of our books like that on a regular basis."
So, while I have used the concept of spine poetry as a creative outlet for some rather self-centred angst, others have taken it and used it as a way to change the world, because they used it to reach their students.
Teachers totally rock.