The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 2 | Page 8



Why Join the Missouri State Reading Council?*

MSC-IRA is committed to promoting literacy statewide. MSC-IRA members share an interest in following the current trends in literacy and reading instruction. Membership in MSC-IRA provides opportunities to learn about the latest developments in literacy education and to meet and interact with local leaders as well as leaders across the state. Information about the newest teaching materials and professional publications is shared at meetings. MSC-IRA co-sponsor’s both the Write to Learn and Missouri Early Learning Conferences to provide opportunities to gain insights into special issues and concerns in reading such as the new Missouri State Standards, Title I, balanced literacy, parent programs, research-based teaching strategies, and much more.

Benefits of Membership in MSC-IRA*

● Learn about the latest developments in literacy education

● Meet and interact with the best in local literacy leaders as well as those across the state

● Receive information about the newest teaching materials and professional publications

● Gain insights into special issues and concerns in reading such as Title I, balanced literacy, parent programs and research based teaching strategies by attending our annual conference

● Receive the support and camaraderie of others who share a common interest in literacy

Diana Houlle,

Director of Membership for MSC

*Editors note. We are in the process of becoming affiliated with the International Literacy Association, formally the International Raading Association. Labels, logos and names will change as that change takes effect.





The more kids read, the better their vocabulary becomes and the better their understanding of language becomes. One key to this truth is the number and quality of books in a teacher’s classroom library. In his work with struggling readers, Allington (2001) stresses that, “emphasis must first be on ensuring abundant reading opportunities during the school day.” He recommends, “a large supply of books across a range of difficulty levels – a range at least as wide as the range of reading achievement levels of the students who come to that room very day.” If we’re going to put poetry to use as part of their reading menu, it’s important to provide poems that kids like. When I was a boy, my mother used to quote Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” from her own childhood. I adored my mother, but she put me to sleep every time with that thing.

A number of surveys have been conducted (including Kutiper and Wilson, 1993) to learn what kinds of poems children like most. Among collective reported findings, they like:

narrative poems that tell a story

poems that rhyme

funny poems

short poems

poems about familiar experiences

animal poetry.

What do they like least?

poems that don’t rhyme


Here are a couple of examples of how poets and teachers share many of the same concerns. Listening to poets explain how they craft a poem provides insight into why so many poems support the teacher’s efforts to help students develop into readers and writers. Here are two Missouri poets talking about their work.


Marching bands

Fire trucks

Flags held high.


Hot dogs

Ice cream, pie.



up in the sky.

Little puppy

born on the

Fourth of July.

© 2010 by Peggy Archer, all rights reserved

Reprinted with permission of the author

“I thought that I had the perfect name for the letter ‘L’ in my picture book, NAME THAT DOG!—Lucky. Then I decided that the book needed a puppy named for a holiday. I chose the Fourth of July, and ‘Liberty’ said it all. I started list-making. I wrote down everything I could think of that had anything to do with Independence Day and how we celebrate it. Things like picnics and food that we eat, parades and marching bands, sparklers and fireworks. Next came the writing. I love rhyme, and all but one of the poems in my book were written in rhyme. Liberty would be a rhyming poem, and a ‘list’ poem, using words that give a ‘picture’ of the holiday. Short words and short lines would give it energy and excitement, the way kids feel on the Fourth of July. Then I thought, “Wouldn’t it be even greater fun if I could make it sound like the Fourth of July!?” I decided to make the rhythm feel like a marching band. One, two, three, four… As they read the poem, kids can clap out the stressed words or syllables, and march to the rhythm of Liberty.” -- Peggy Archer