I love Love that Dog by Sharon Creech. It is one of my all-time favorite resources for poetry and teaching poetry. January is traditionally when I do a full-blown poetry unit with my third graders (although we have been celebrating Poetry Friday since the first week of school).
My current poetry unit is a mish-mash of many different poetry units and practices, but it is based around an all-class read aloud of Love that Dog. I use a digital copy of the book so that all students can see and appreciate the layout as well as the words of our narrator, Jack.
I find that all students can relate to Jack, whether it is with his initial hesitation with poetry or fear of sharing his poems or love of his big yellow dog. My students love analyzing how Jack uses words and language to express his thoughts and feelings.
As we read, I pair each selection with the poems referenced in the book (and, helpfully, already included in an appendix in the back). We open with free response time, as everyone writes their thoughts, questions, or responses to a given poem in their writing notebook. Then we have some time for sharing before we read on to find out about Jack's reactions and responses to the same poems.
The remaining class time is for poetry writing. Sometimes I will ask students to try a certain poetry type or format (we write our own "So much depends upon ..." poems), but many times students are free to pursue poetry writing in their own way. Here are two student examples, inspired by poems from Love that Dog.
So much depends on
Filled with words
In the classroom
So much depends upon
An owl flying in the starry night
Silent as the wind
Swooping though the sky
Like a hawk with its wings
If you do choose to use Love that Dog as a read aloud, I strongly recommend also checking out some of the books of poems mentioned and used in the story. These are a few of my favorites:
Street Music by Arnold Adoff, All the Same Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and illustrated by Susan Jeffers, River of Words: the story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It by Gail Carson Levine and illustrated by Matthew Cordell, and, of course, some poems by Mr. Walter Dean Myers. (It will be so hard this year, for the first time, having to explain the Mr. Walter Dean Myers has died.)
Have you used Love that Dog with students? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it too! (And don't forget to check out the sequel, Hate that Cat, which follows Jack and Mrs. Stretchberry through another school year.)
This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is being curated by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference. See the whole list of hosts at Poetry Friday by Kitlitosphere.