Shortest of Short: Haiku! by Claudia Mills

I love writing middle-grade books for kids. And I love writing poetry. So if I can have kids in my books writing poetry, it's double the bliss for me. As we are celebrating "all things short" here on this blog in this short month, I'm giving a shout-out to the shortest poems of all: haiku.

In my recent middle-grade novel, The Trouble with Friends, the third book in my Nora Notebooks series, the kids in Nora’s class are writing haiku for a poetry unit. In one chapter I gave myself the treat of writing a haiku for each kid that expressed his or her character.

Emma dotes on her cat, Precious Cupcake, so I gave Emma a cat-loving haiku:

My cat is the best.
White, soft, fluffy, blue eyes. tail.
She is the cutest!

Critter-loving Amy is disappointed that her mom won't let her get a pet snake. So she wrote:

When I'm a mom some-
day, my kids can have ten snakes
and I'll say "Hooray!"

Class dancer Tamara shared her love of dance in her  haiku "Hip Hop":

When I start to dance
My feet have their own ideas.
My body follows.

Ant-loving Nora writes her haiku about ants, of course:

The ant is smaller
Than the cracker crumb. But she
Carries it so far.

And poetry-hating Mason wrote this one:

How I Feel about Poetry 

No no no no no
No no no no no no no
No no no no no.

In addition to my own self-indulgent pleasure in writing poems for my child characters, I've also found having some little "round up" exercise like this a satisfyingly simple way to show character. If each kid has to come up with, say, a word problem for math class, or a persuasive essay topic for language arts, or choose a character to impersonate in an Oregon Trail reenactment, how can each character's choice be mobilized to reveal his or her character? 

Now I'm off to meet the challenge I've given myself of writing a poem a day for each of the 28 days in February!


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