wordswithwings

This novel-in-verse is for the daydreamers and for the teachers who want to guide, not squash, those who have such vivid imaginations.

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes is one of those gorgeously-written books you can read aloud to your class for wonderful group discussions and then watch them eagerly grab it to read independently. (Novels-in-verse are not only a great way to immerse your students in poetry, but it hits both Range of Reading and Fluency for Core Standards. Woohoo!) Imagine yourself reading aloud this page to your students and knowing that for some kids, it will hit home:

First Day
I duck down in the seat
of my new class.
To these kids,
I’m not Gabby yet.
I’m just Shy Girl
Who Lives
Inside Her Head.
No one even knocks
on the door
for a visit.
They don’t know
it’s beautiful
in here.

Gabby is a daydreamer, which sometimes causes problems in school and at home. But how can she help daydreaming, when words have wings? Some of the poems would make for great writing prompts in your classroom, like this one:

Waterfall
Say “waterfall”
and the dreary winter rain
outside my classroom window
turns to liquid thunder,
pounding into a clear pool
miles below,
and I can’t wait
to dive in.

To my absolute delight, Nikki Grimes named the teacher in this book Mr. Spicer after one of the coolest teachers I’ve ever meet, Ed Spicer. He teaches first grade here in Michigan and he is committed to giving his students time to daydream. Sometimes he plays music, sometimes it’s quiet. Sometimes he asks his students to write about their daydreams, or turn and talk about them, or daydream on a particular topic, like a science concept they are studying. I love the power of daydreaming and I adore Ed Spicer for encouraging his students to take a few moments to let their minds wander. Follow him on Facebook for more about his classroom because he is a wealth of amazing ideas.

So share Words with Wings with your students. For a quick Craft & Structure lesson, talk about the words Nikki Grimes chose that have “wings” for Gabby. Why did she choose these words? What words have wings for you? Give your students a few minutes just to daydream, wonder and imagine. It may become a favorite break in your classroom.

Happy September, everyone!

For more information about the author, please visit: nikkigrimes.com.

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