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The Study of Poetry and Literature for Children & Young Adults

Poetry Module 6: Responding to Poetry

Poetry Break #1: A Poem about a difficult time in a child's life.


Introduction: I chose this poem because I know from experience that bringing a new baby home changes the dynamics of a household. Older siblings sometimes react to the change with feelings of jealousy or anger. Reading and talking about this issue may be beneficial for some children.
I also picked this book because it was sticky (really sticky) and dirty with little fingerprints on the cover and all through the wrinkly pages.
Brand-New Baby
By Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
It sleeps a lot
and cries a lot
and drinks a lot
and pees a lot
and gets a lot of diapers smelly.
That doesn't stop the grown-ups
coming 'round,
(Oh, they sound
so silly
and so boring!)
They coo a lot
and moo a lot
and cluck a lot
and squeal a lot:
Look at its dear little
fingers and toes!
Look at its dear little
Look at its tiny,
adorable nose!
Isn't it
"How does it feel
to have a new baby?"
everyone asks me.
And I think that maybe
I'll tell them the truth:
I feel proud.
I feel glad.
I feel mixed-up-happy-sad.
It isn't all good,
and it isn't all bad.
I wonder if
I should admit
I'm jealous, too--
a little bit.
Would I be misunderstood?
How does it feel?
It's hard to explain.
I don't think I'll try...
Next time they ask me,
I know what I'll say:
I'll sigh a deep sigh
(to show I am bored),
and then I will tell them,
Poetry Extension:  This is an excellent poem for a choral reading. Use for 2nd - 4th graders. First, read the poem through to the children making sure to pause at the appropriate line breaks. Then, have the children line up around the classroom in a semicircle. Have the first child, read the first line, second child read the second line and so on. The children will enjoy the short fun lines and will listen intently for their turn. Make sure you have mutiple copies of the poem so that each child has a copy.
After reading the poem with the class, gather the children in a group around you on the floor. Ask facilitating questions, "What is the poem about? Has anyone ever felt like this? What do you think about it?" Be prepared for honest opinionated answers. Make sure that you do not judge if an answer concerning a new sibling is negative. Change can be difficult especially when adapting to or sharing the spotlight with a new sibling.
Allow time for children to write, draw or read after the discussion. This will allow the children time to decompress if the discussion raised feelings of uncertainty or negative thoughts. Perhaps include a personal story, for example, when we brought our second child home our two year old son was happy to see his new baby sister but after a couple days, he said, "Okay, you can take her back now."
As they grew they became great friends, sharing games and adventures. Now that they are teens, they still get along, play the same sports and share similar interests and friends.
Let the children know that babies do grow up into fun playmates and can become wonderful friends.
de Regniers, Beatrice Schenk. 1988. The Way I Feel...Sometimes. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0899196470

Click on the following link to proceed to the next poetry break.

Poetry Break #2