Learn a poem by heart…

Your teacher wants you to memorize poetry?

1. Learning by heart improves reading skills.

– You learn to notice punctuation marks. Those commas and periods mean it is time to stop, breathe, and send your eyes ahead to scan what is coming.
– You learn to notice the key words, so you can speak with the correct expression.
– You notice how phrasing creates meaning.
– You enlarge and enrich your vocabulary.

2. Learning by heart improves public-speaking skills.

– You learn to speak with confidence.
You learn how to stand with good posture.
You learn to enunciate words clearly and speak slowly enough that listeners can understand you.

3. Learning by heart improves memory skills.

– You will need to know many things by heart in life.
– Just like running laps gives your body practice for running a long-distance race, memorizing gives your brain practice at remembering.
Deeper understanding of problems in life comes from holding facts in your mind and coming up with new insights.

4. Learning by heart provides a rest from writing and reading.

– So much of school involves your eyes: reading the board, reading books, reading textbooks, reading assignments.
– So much of school also involves writing: taking notes and completing assignments.
– Memorizing gives students who are better at learning by listening a chance to shine.

5. Learning by heart develops listening skills.

– Memorizing requires listening to yourself: are you speaking clearly and at an appropriate pace?
– Reciting in a group requires listening to others so as to maintain an even pace.

6. Learning by heart develops an appreciation for language.

– Memorizing helps you become more aware of the rhythms of phrases and the sounds of words.
– It helps you understand the power of consonance and assonance and alliteration.
– It also helps develop knowledge of powerful words.

7. Learning by heart develops empathy.

– Reciting in a group develops an awareness of others.
– Reciting in a group creates a feeling of belonging.
– Memorizing the same poems as others develops a sense of belonging and shared culture.
– Memorizing takes time and so encourages a deeper understanding of some of the great themes of literature and life.
Memorizing enters the mind more deeply than reading and so can touch your heart more deeply.
Memorizing great poems helps you make connections with people of other times and in other places.

8. Learning by heart eases loneliness.

– Holding great poems in your heart can remind you that you are not alone in this world.
– Remembering those poems later on in life can give you hope.

9. Learning by heart helps you listen to the voice inside of yourself.

– Memorizing helps you pull your energy into your body and focus for an extended period of time.
It encourages you to feel the emotions inside of you but still have control of them.
It lets you shut out other people and gives you some private time.
Memorizing great poems encourages you to think great thoughts and come up with your own insights into life.

10. Learning by heart helps you become a person of great character.

– Great poems will surround you with beauty.
Filling your mind with beautiful and true thoughts will help you become a person who is truly great in this world. 

Great poems to memorize: HERE

 Read more…

Diffily, Deborah. “Revisiting Family Involvement: Perspectives of Teachers and Families.” (2001).
Fisher, Ryan, Sujey Romero, and Andy Shin. “Building Students’ Social Capital Onstage: Examining the Codman Academy-Huntington Theater Company Partnership.”
Hadaway, Nancy L., Sylvia M. Vardell, and Terrell A. Young. “Scaffolding oral language development through poetry for students learning English.” The Reading Teacher (2001): 796-806.
Kang, Nina. “The Lost Art of Memorizing Poetry.” The American Reader. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <http://theamericanreader.com/the-lost-art-of-memorizing-poetry/>.
Snider, Justin. “Rote Memorization: Overrated or Underrated?.” Huffington Post Canada. 25 May 2011. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/justin-snider/rote-memorization-testing_b_817170.html>.
Turner, Ellen RM. “Why You Should Memorize Poetry.” Dappled Things. Web. 7 Oct. 2014. <http://dappledthings.org/2536/why-you-should-memorize-poetry/>.

This page may be copied for use by schools if the following credit is provided:  ©2014 Sophie Rosen.


A True Story: Literary Fiction

All That's Missing

A good novel tells us a story. In All That’s Missing, Arlo decides to run away to find the grandmother he’s never known after his grandfather is hospitalized due to a stroke. This 358-page novel has lots of action to keep the story interesting. We want to know what is going to happen.

Sullivan, Sarah. All That’s Missing. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2013.
“Secretly providing for himself and a beloved grandfather who is succumbing to dementia, young Arlo is placed in the care of a social worker and runs away to find and connect with his only other family member.” – CIP. [Dementia; Family problems; Grandparents; Runaways]

Way Down Deep

But a better novel tells us about life. In Way Down Deep, a police officer arrives to take twelve-year-old Ruby back to a grandmother she doesn’t remember. This 197-page novel not only has lots of action and humour, it also contains little passages to take away once the story is over:

“‘Miss Arbutus says that sleep is more important for the soul than for the body. She says when a person sleeps a lot like Mr. Crawford does, they are trying to work out their problems.’
“‘And how does sleeping help?’
“‘Because, according to Miss Arbutus,’ Ruby said, ‘God is in that place where sleep takes us. Way down deep inside, where all the answers lie'” (72).

“‘Who’s the doctor here anyway?’ Mr. Doctor said sternly. ‘I know cussitis when I see it. It is caused by two very dangerous germs – pain and anger. And these germs attack the vocabulary so that the afflicted person is not able to express his true feelings'” (90).

White, Ruth. Way Down Deep. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007.
“In the West Virginia town of Way Down Deep in the 1950s, a foundling called Ruby June is happily living with Miss Arbutus at the local boarding house when suddenly, after the arrival of a family of outsiders, the mystery of Ruby’s past begins to unravel.” – CIP. [Community life; Foundlings; Historical fiction; Identity; Orphans; West Virginia]

All That’s Missing is an entertaining story.  Way Down Deep is an entertaining and sophisticated story, carefully crafted by an accomplished author. 



Outdoor Survival: Novels of World War 2

Did you enjoy Hatchet by Gary Paulsen?

Are you interested in World War II?

Try these novels of outdoor survival!

Picture 12

Gleitzman, Morris. Once. New York : Henry Holt, 2010, c2005.
“After living in an Catholic orphanage for nearly four years, a naive Jewish boy runs away and embarks on a journey across Nazi-occupied Poland to find his parents.” – CIP.  A startling story for mature readers 12-years-old and up.

Picture 5

Gleitzman, Morris. Then. New York : Henry Holt, 2008.
In this sequel to Once, ten-year-old Felix and six-year-old find shelter with a woman who tries to hide from the Nazis in the Polish countryside. Highly recommended for mature readers 12-years-old and up. 

The Hideout

Heuck, Sigrid. The Hideout. Saskatoon : Western Producer Prairie Books, 1988.
“Rebecca, living in an orphanage in Germany during World War II, finds her only refuge with a boy hiding out in a nearby cornfield, where their imagination lets them retreat into a fantasy world of their own making.” – CIP.

I am David

Holm, Anne. I Am David. London: Egmont, 1992, c1963.
Twelve-year-old David escapes from a concentration camp in eastern Europe and sets out to find his mother. This powerful novel, translated from the Danish and winner of multiple awards, is highly recommended for readers 12-years-old and up.

Kensuke's Kingdom

Morpurgo, Michael. Kensuke’s Kingdom. New York : Scholastic Press, [2003], c1999.
Eleven-year-old Michael, his parents and his dog, Stella, are off on an adventure. They are going to sail around the world.  Around Africa, around Australia, all is going well until a storm strikes. Michael and Stella are washed overboard. And then the Robinson Crusoe adventure starts: survival on a tropical island, alone apart from an old Japanese man, a survivor of World War II.  Will Michael ever be reuinited with his family?  Will Kensuke ever go home to Japan?  If you enjoyed Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, try this survival novel by a well-known British writer.

Run, Boy, Run

Orlev, Uri. Run, Boy, Run. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
“Based on the true story of a nine-year-old boy who escapes the Warsaw Ghetto and must survive throughout the war in the Nazi-occupied Polish countryside.” – CIP. Written by a highly acclaimed Israeli writer, this astonishing novel is recommended for readers 12-years-old and up.


Pausewang, Gudrun. Traitor. Andersen Press, 2004.
Living in the German countryside with her grandmother, Anna finds an escaped Russian prisoner of war hiding in the barn. Instead of turning him over to the police, she helps him. She secretly takes him to an abandoned bunker in the woods and brings him food and supplies. Meanwhile, her younger brother Felix proudly proclaims that he wants to find the missing prisoner.  Will the prisoner escape over the border into Czechoslovakia or will he be caught?  This novel is for mature readers eleven-years-old and up.

The Cay

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay. New York : Dell Yearling, 2002, c1969.
“When the freighter on which they are traveling is torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II, an adolescent white boy, blinded by a blow on the head, and an old black man are stranded on a tiny Caribbean island where the boy acquires a new kind of vision, courage, and love from his old companion.” – CIP. A classic adventure story for readers 11-years-old and up.

More novels of World War II: HERE