Book Spine Poetry = Library Skills Practice

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Until I sat down to create my first book spine poem (a unique poetry form invented by Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notes) I didn’t really know what was involved in creating one.  Now that I’ve written one myself, I’ve learned that there’s more going on with book spine poetry than meets the eye!

stack of booksI’m sure the creative process is different for everyone, but in my case wandering around the library staring at row after row of titles (my first approach) did not result in a stack of books that formed a poem.


Wandering around the library and catching sight of The Long  Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder did spark the idea for my poem, but once I settled on a topic it took at least a dozen OPAC title searches to come up with a list of 15 or 20 promising books.  (I searched for snow, cold, frozen, winter, snowfall, blizzard, sleet, icy, windy, storm, snowfall, chilly, and spring, and those are just the words I remember looking up.)  Then I went and found each book on the shelf, and finally I arranged and rearranged them to create my poem.


book spine poem

The Long Winter by Lori June
Click to Enlarge


Think about that:  Choose a topic.  Develop a search strategy.  Perform the searches.  Write down the titles and call numbers.  Locate the books on the shelf.  THAT’S AN ENTIRE LIBRARY SKILLS LESSON DISGUISED AS A FUN POETRY WRITING ACTIVITY!  Thank goodness Travis Jonker is a benevolent genius who shares his great poetry ideas, and not an evil genius who keeps them to himself.

I plan to try this with my 5th graders next month; I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Maybe you’d like to try it with your students too, in which case you can leave a comment and let me know how it turns out!


SML Books / 20090903.10D.52431 / SML‘  Found on
Bookshelves Elsewhere‘ Found on


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