Do Grownups Color As They Read?


Three year-old Grace came dashing into my studio like a clog dancer.

Dressed in summer shorts and a crop top, I could tell she was upset by the stomping

of her cowboy boots on the tile floor.







I’m a children’s writer and I guess to young Gracie, I would know the answer.

Yes, I thought of saying, readers add the colors to our books. When writers write, and readers read they enter into a contract. The writer puts the words down on the page, trying to tell a story. Then the reader comes along and gives meaning to the words. It is the connections and links that the reader brings to the story that give meaning and add color to the words. But how do I explain this to a three year-old so that she can understand? It is the writer’s job to build bridges that let the reader enter into the story, to develop empathy for the characters and to understand the change that happens to the main character and feel the struggles the character has gone through. Oh yes, adults add the color to books as we read them. But, I had a hunch from her stomping this wasn’t really the question Gracie was asking.

I picked her up, sat her in my lap.

“What do you mean, Gracie? Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Donnie said I couldn’t color the page in my coloring book that I wanted to. I want to color the princess having a tea party with the fairies, but he says I have to color one page at a time, front to back—that’s how grownups read a story. He took my crayons and broke them because I wouldn’t color the next page with a dumb old prince.”

“He wanted to tell you how to read a book?”

“Yes, and that isn’t right!”

“Nope, you should be able to read a book anyway you want. Would a box of colored pencils help?”

“Yes, thank you,” Gracie said as she rushed out of my studio.

Is it afternoon nap time yet? I want to dream about the color readers add to my stories.

2016 Progressive Poem

2016 Kidlit Progressive Poem

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2016 Progressive Poem.  Each year Irene Latham of Live Your Poem, invites poets to her own poetry festivities to help develop and build a progressive poem for National Poetry Month.  Each of 30 different poets supplies a line on their assigned day to cumulatively create the poem.

Yesterday the talented Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids started us off with a rousing first line.

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky

I’m so excited about this line.  A beautifully written first line in perfect iambic measures.  I love her use of squall. The alliteration of squall (a word that can also be used as a verb,)the verb stir, and sky echoes in my ear.  So my challenge is to keep to her rhythm.  Four iambic beats. And can I repeat her elegant dance steps?  My mind immediately went to the opposite of  that strong powerful hawk to the most delicate and fragile of birds.

a hummingbird holds and then hies

So, there you have it, the first two lines.  Looks like the beginning of a list poem to me, and I think we are foregoing punctuation at this point. There are still plenty of days and tons of possibilities.  For now, at least we are through the first call and response. And I can toss this creation over to the dedicated Doraine Bennett for Sunday.


A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky

a hummingbird holds and then hies


Here is the list of all the poets who are participating this month.


2 Joy at Joy Acey
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Diane at Random Noodling
8 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
11 Buffy at Buffy’s Blog
12 Michelle at Today’s Little Ditty
13 Linda at TeacherDance
14 Jone at Deo Writer
16 Violet at Violet Nesdoly
17 Kim at Flukeprints
18 Irene at Live Your Poem
19 Charles at Poetry Time
21 Jan at Bookseedstudio
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Mark at Jackett Writes
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Mary Lee at Poetrepository
29 Sheila at Sheila Renfro
30 Donna at Mainely Write


Monday Morning


Making coffee,
feeling the day is too early,
looking out winter windows
into gray, bare trees
rising behind them
in the skyline
bubble gum, rosy, radiant
sun coming, energy kick,
morning glow.
I say, thanks God,
for small miracles.
You always provide
what I need.

I was busy working on a poem this morning for my children’s poetry blog and when it came time to save the poem, I saw that I had already saved a poem with the title MONDAY MORNING. I looked at this poem written at an earlier date (when I still lived in NC) and I liked the way the poem made me feel. So, I thought I’d share that poem with you today. I hope you are having a sunny day too.

10,000 Poems

Every morning I take a two mile walk with my husband and our dog Spot. This week I’ve taken along the Walkman and have been listening to music along the way. This is fun for me because my husband set the walkman up. He put all the albums on it. The machine shuffles all the songs and I get a random mix. For me, this is important. I don’t want to know what the next song is going to be. I want to be surprised.
Most of the songs are just music without words. And what an eclectic mix it is. The Zydeco is next to the classical, the slack key just after the concert chello. The Celtic harp is next to the reaggae.
One song got me thinking, probably because there were lyrics. Joan Baez was singing 10,000 miles. I started to think about how far 10,000 miles is. I thought about how far I walk in a week, a month, a year. Considering that 2 miles isn’t the only walking I do every day, I probably put in at least 4 miles a day. Multiply that by the two and a half years I’ve lived in Tucson and have walked every morning and my husband says, I’ve walked “half way across the country.” Durn, too bad I didn’t do that literally, or should I say laterally?
But then I got to thinking about the poem-a-day I post on my blog and I’ve been doing this for almost two years now. And doing my rough math, I figured in three years I could write over 1,000 poems. So it would take 30 years to write 10,000 poems. Not a bad career for a children’s poet. I honestly think this is do-able before I die. What a fun challenge.
But then again, I was never very good at math, which is why I like writing poetry instead of working in a bank.

Excuse Me?

    I was reading my Dec. 3 issue of the New Yorker with my morning coffee and piece of toast on Friday and came across an ad for Mary Oliver’s latest book, A Thousand Mornings.  The ad for the book, included a poem I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE.  It is a simple little eight line poem and I really liked it, so I thought I’d memorize it.  
     I love memorizing poems.  Perhaps it is my love of theatrics that encourages me to memorize things I can perform.  I love telling stories to an audience and reciting poems.  So this one seemed easy enough to do.
   But in memorizing the poem I discovered the brilliance of Oliver’s craftmanship.  It has three ing words to supply lovely music, good use of assonance, great verbs for action and a rhyme at the end.  The punctuation on the poem was very straight forward and made it easy to interpret, until I got to the last line.  “Excuse me, I have work to do.”
    Written with a coma that “Excuse me,” means to me–get out of my way.
    But everytime I came to it, I would say the line with a question mark, as in “Did I hear you correctly?”  and some how I imagine Oliver sitting at her desk, studying over that line putting in the coma and taking it out.  Putting in a question mark and taking it out.  Since she already had one question in the poem, I think she decided to go with the coma–but for me, I’m still going to read/perform it as a question mark because it is just too much fun for me to say it this way.  
   Because I do not have Mary Oliver’s permission to print her poem here, I hesitate to violate her copyright. But, you can find the poem here<a href=”″>I GO DOWN TO THE SHORE</a>