How To Get Kids Excited About Poetry: Reverso

Mirror, MirrorWelcome to April: Poetry Appreciation Month!

I know, I know.  You read books.  Not poems.  Believe me, I hear it from my family every year at this time, when I pull out the poetry anthologies and force them to *endure* some haiku, Silverstein, and rhyming couplets.

Reading poetry serves any word nerd well.  It gives you appreciation of word play, rhythm, figurative language, and rhyme.  Sometimes, it will make you laugh.


For kids, it’s a great way to play with rhyme and practice expressive reading.  I guess that’s good for us grown ups too.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to Shakespeare or Wordsworth here (although a sonnet could be fun).  However, for the next few Fridays, I want to coax you into the world of verse.  Hopefully, you’ll find something appealing.


Today, I’d like to introduce you to “reverso.”  Poet Marilyn Singer, in her children’s book Mirror, Mirror, presents poems, based on fairy tales, that can be read two ways: up or down.   By only changing capitalization and punctuation, she gives the same poem a different meaning by flipping it, and writing it from end to beginning.  For example:

A cat


a chair;


Reverses to:


A chair


a cat.

Pretty cool, huh?

Singer suggests that reverso poems can be a creative way to tell two sides of one story.  Just Follow, Followthis year, she released a second book of reverso, called Follow Follow.

Now, normally, this is the spot in the post where I’d ask you to create your own reverso poem.  But I’ve tried.  For a long time.  This flipping thing isn’t as easy as Singer makes it look.

So maybe just check out her books, enjoy the fantastic illustrations, and marvel at her Word Nerd prowess.

And pull out a book of poetry sometime.

What poems or poetic forms have you enjoyed?  Can you recommend any books of poetry for the rest of us?

Coming up next week, Bolton Carley, author of Hello Summer Vacay!, a young adult verse novel, shares some tips for encouraging a love of poetry.

Thanks for stopping by!




Julia Tomiak
I believe in the power of words to improve our lives, and I help people find interesting words to read. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+. Member of SCBWI and


  1. I came to this website to learn how to appreciate poetry to become a better involved student in my english class. However, your website title was extremely misleading. You call yourself the Word Nerd and I hoped that this meant that I could trust your skills in appreciating literature, but the only poetry suggestion you offered was a book with a poem about a cat and a chair for children. This seems incredibly deceiving since your website seemed like it would help me analyze poetry for an older and more sophisticated person, not a four line “reverso” poem for six year old’s. Furthermore, reverso apparently isn’t even a word, and you said nothing about how to appreciate poetry, which is why I came to your webpage in the first place. This was very unhelpful, and I was entirely unimpressed.

  2. In honor of those impacted by yesterday’s Boston Marathon and in honor of the 32 men and women lost at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, here is my reverso poem:



    1. That is beautiful Nicole. Especially today, after we’ve all gotten news of the tragedy in Boston. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful poem.

  3. I love poetry; I just wish I knew where to start and how to write it! I even thought about googling “How to write a poem” b/c it’s been so very long since I studied poetry in school. Yesterday I did my borrow my friend’s, Billy Collins book of poetry and can’t wait to dive in. My children are memorizing poetry at school – a tradition I adore!

  4. I’m going to put in a plug for jazz poetry. It may be about a performer, a piece of jazz history or contain elements of jazz. Check out Langston Hughes, Etheridge Knight, Mbembe Milton Smith and Sonia Sanchez as just a few of the poets who have written jazz poetry. By the way, jazz haiku is an important segment of jazz poetry.

  5. I’m a huge fan of Jack Prelutsky. I love his humor and irreverence and how he plays with words. Scranimals was always one of my son’s favorites. Poetry can be moving and lyrical and dark and enigmatic, but it can also be silly and fun.

  6. This is great Julia!

    Our boys have to memorize a poem each fall and present it to their class, and school, if they advance. Based on their age the length increases greatly. I’ll have to remember these books and see if they would work. 😉

    Bless your weekend,
    Hester, 😉

Comments are closed.