Color & Poetry

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors is an excellent text to share with students when you want to lift the level of the poems they're crafting about colors.

Color poems are popular things to have students craft, especially in elementary school Writing Workshops.  There are many books that provide examples of color poems for young writers to emulate.  Some are fantastic, allowing readers to think about colors in new ways, and some are mediocre, at best.  I was fortunate to be one of the Round II Judges for the Cybils 2009 Poetry Panel which selected Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors as the category winner.  The Poems in Red Sings are expertly written by Joyce Sidman and are beautifully illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.  Together, Sidman and Zagarenski make this book more than just a bunch of poems about color.  Instead, Red Sings is a walk through the seasons of the year with a heightened awareness towards the colors of each season.  One of my fellow Cybils judges wrote this about Red Sings:

Observation, discovery, connection . . . Red Sings From the Treetops embodies everything poetry is meant to be. The vivid words of poet Joyce Sidman — which are fresh even when writing about the oldest of concepts, color — and the gloriously hue-soaked pictures of illustrator Pamela Zagarenski combine to create a poetry book that is both thoughtful and exuberant. Readers can hunt for small details in the sweep of larger images and thrill to a-ha! moments of discovery. They can read the book as one full, circular story or as a series of individual, eye-opening poems. Either way, the beauty of this book will leave them feeling connected to something larger than themselves.

Here’s a look at two pages out of the book, which I think are especially significant as we transition from winter to spring here in my neck of the woods:

Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright (c) 2009 by Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright (c) 2009 by Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

Red Sings from Treetops by Joyce Sidman. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright (c) 2009 by Joyce Sidman. All rights reserved.

Consider sharing Red Sings with your students to ratchet-up the level of the color poems they’re writing.  Further, you can  click here to go to Sidman’s website, where she invites you to write about colors in a new way, providing instruction for writing a synesthesia poem.  (NOTE: Sidman changes the “Poetry Now” Page of her website every few months.  If you clicked on the previous link and didn’t see the instructions for writing a synesthesia poem, then click here to view Sidman’s “Poetry Now” Archives, where it should be housed.)