POETRY ON THE PA

Judy Scharf, the information specialist at the Bamberg American Elementary School in Bamberg, Germany, suggests making April, National Poetry Month, a time for poetry festivals in schools. As part of her school's festival, one person in the school community read a favorite poem over the PA system each morning for a month. The festival ended with a Favorite Poem reading event that included students, teachers and parents. Here's what she wrote to us:

I loved your project so much and the book, too, that I organized a "Favorite Poem Festival" to run for the whole month of April at our school, Bamberg American Elementary School in Bamberg, Germany. Students, teachers, parents, everybody — we have all been sharing poems out loud and loving every minute of it.

I must admit that several teachers were very skeptical at the beginning, but they are total enthusiasts now. It has been amazing to see the involvement build so quickly and remain so sustained for so long. We had students, teachers and other staff members read their favorite poems over the PA system each day in April and tell why they liked those poems. Everyone was a little sad today when the principal read his poem because he was the last one on the list of readers! Maybe next year we'll just read one every single day of the whole year!

There have been all kinds of wonderful ways teachers have guided their students in discovering poetry just for the fun and enjoyment. Parents, too, have really become involved, and many have commented on how much they have loved reading poetry with their children for the very first time. Next Thursday, May 4, we are having a poetry reading at the theater near school to end our Favorite Poem Festival. A student from each classroom will read his favorite poem, and an adult (either a teacher or a parent) from each grade level will read also. There is considerable excitement and anticipation, you can be sure!

Thank you more than you know. This has been one of the most rewarding events of my long career in teaching, and I plan to continue the Favorite Poem Festival for many years to come.