Thursday, November 08, 2007

Haiku Books for Children

My friend at Mom Unplugged has weekly projects going with her kids. This past week she was writing haiku with them, and she asked for suggestions for haiku books to read with kids. I got to thinking about it and browsing our shelves. Here are some of my favorites:

Today and Today, Issa Kobayashi
Cricket Songs, Harry Behn
Cricket Never Does, Myra Cohn Livingston
One Leaf Rides the Wind, Celeste Mannis
A Pocketful of Poems, Nikki Grimes
Basho and the River Stones, Tim Myers
If Not For the Cat, Jack Prelutsky
Wingnuts, Paul Janeczko
Baseball Haiku, Cor Van Den Heuvel
Dogku, Andrew Clements

*Edited to add:

I remembered this post from World of Words that features some of her favorite haiku books for children, as well as this post from Wild Rose Reader where she posts some of her haiku and recommends her favorite books. Both of these links are really helpful resources.

I was also reading When You Are Alone/It Keeps You Capone: An Approach to Creative Writing with Children by Myra Cohn Livingston. She has a whole chapter on teaching haiku to children. She warns us not to take it lightly and introduce it as an "easy" form of just counted syllables with no rhyme. Livingston says haiku is one of the most difficult forms of poetry to master. She says,
"Without a long dissertation on the involved rules that govern the haiku, which is the beginning of a much longer Japanese form, I explain that the word "haiku" is made up of two Japanese words, hai and ku. Hai means to compose a poem; ku means a phrase. It is, indeed, a beginning of an idea, a thought, some picture seen by the writer that will lead us on to further thoughts, thoughts of our own about what the writer of the haiku has seen or felt."
The rules Livingston gives us are these:
  1. It must includes a reference to nature, indicating a season.
  2. It must refer to a particular event; No generalizations.
  3. What is happening must happen at the moment, now, rather than at some past or future time.
  4. We must make every word count.
  5. Some feeling or emotion must come through in the haiku. We are trying to re-create in the haiku a moment that will show the writer's emotion and arouse emotion in the reader, make him see something he may never have seen before.
These are all excellent points to keep in mind. I remember learning about haiku in my fourth grade classroom, but I didn't really know what it was all about until I studied it in college. By trying to write haiku every day and by reading the Japanese masters I find that I am beginning to understand it a little better each day. It is a life time practice!

**Edited again to add: Myra Cohn Livingston offers these titles to help us learn more about writing haiku with children: Wind in My Hand, The Story of Issa, by Hanako Fukuda. Livingston says,
"I read it aloud to the class, for it shows how haiku are made up of the commonplace, and tells of the observations of Issa himself as a boy and a man, the things that were important to him and how he made them into poetry. No set of rules given to children will make them understand half as well as this book how the human emotions are part of creative writing - haiku as well as all poetry.

For the teacher who wishes to learn more of haiku for himself, Harold G. Henderson's Haiku in English is most concise and understandable and offers practical guidelines fr judging haiku."
The Wind in My Hand book is out of print now, but you can get used copies. I am requesting it from interlibrary loan.

A couple other websites I found: Two Dragonflies: Haiku and Music for Children
Aha poetry haiku links


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the list! I am going to write a post about it right now. I need soemthing cheerier to think about than lead paint and toxic Aqua Dots.

I hope you'll consider joining us for next Monday's project. The theme is simply: "Red." I'd love to see what haiku you could come up with! It isn't just for kids so you could write one yourself if you want. I have one other adult who contributes (her kids are all grown and gone).

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Thanks so much for linking to World of Words! I love Wing Nuts too and I forgot to put it on my list. I'll add it!
Marcie Atkins
World of Words

Anonymous said...

I love Black Swan, White Crow. It's older, but the imagery is stunning!