I had the pleasure of being part of the round two judges for the 2009 Cybils Poetry Panel. I really enjoyed all five of the books we had to judge, including the winner. One of the books that made it to the final round was called African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways with poems written by Avis Harley and photographs by Deborah Noyes. What I truly LOVED about this text was the way Harley wrote her acrostic poems. They weren’t written in the typical word-down-the-left-side-of-the-page-with-words-flowing-out-of-each-letter way. While typical acrostics, when done well, are challenging to write well, Harley stepped up to a new kind of challenge. She wrote double acrostics, cross acrostics, and multiple acrostics. She even included two pages in the back of the book to talk about different kinds of acrostic frameworks writers can use when they wish to craft acrostic poems.
Here are two of my personal favorites from this text:
AFRICAN ACROSTICS. Text copyright © 2009 by Avis Harley. Photographs copyright © 2009 by Deborah Noyes. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
If you’re planning to teach your students how to write acrostic poetry, then this is a book you HAVE to have in order to lift the level of their acrostic poetry writing. Using African Acrostics as a touchstone text will challenge all of the budding poets in your class to stretch themselves when they craft acrostic poetry.
I am a literacy consultant who has spent over a decade working with teachers to improve the teaching of writing in their classrooms. While I work with teachers and students in grade K-6, I'm a former fourth and fifth-grade teacher so I have a passion for working with upper elementary students.
I'm the author of Craft Moves (Stenhouse Publishers, 2016) and the co-author of Jump Into Writing (Zaner-Bloser, 2021), Welcome to Writing Workshop (Stenhouse Publishers, 2019), and Day By Day (Stenhouse, 2010).