March 2017 Issue
March 28, 2017

Check it out

Source: NYSUT United

Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book

Check it Out book cover: Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power BookBy Sylvia Vardell & Janet Wong

Recommended by: Susan Polos, Bedford TA, school librarian, NBCT

Recommended for: Ages 8 and older

Why I chose this book: April is Poetry Month. It's also School Library Month, and this book is a perfect addition to school and classroom libraries. The authors convey the power of poetry through the stories of four children confronting socio-political issues — immigration, gender roles, food insecurity and more. Wong and Vardell link these poems to pre-writing activities and prompts that allow students to write their own poems. In the end, the characters join together with a positive message of hope.

How teachers can use this book: The book is designed in 12 "PowerPacks," each with an anchor poem, a specific poetry exercise and a specific social justice theme. There are 12 connected lessons complete with activities and resource lists.

What I like best: The poems, written from the perspective of four children — Ameera, David, Jack and Jenna — are representative of a diverse classroom; their problems are particular, yet universal. This small volume packs a big punch as children are empowered to create their own poems and to effect change in the world.

About the authors: Janet Wong ( is a former labor relations lawyer who left that career to become an internationally known poet and speaker. She has written many books about teaching poetry. Sylvia Vardell is a professor at Texas Women's University in the School of Library and Information Studies and specializes in children's books. She originated Librarians' Choices, an annual review and selection guide for the latest books for children and young adults.

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians and other educators. Have a recommendation? Send suggestions, along with your name and local union, to