Friday, April 08, 2011

Poetry in the Classroom - Take Me Out To the Ballgame

I miss small town baseball. The big leagues are fun to follow, but not nearly as exciting for me as the intimacy of a park where you can sit in the cheap seats and still see with ease, actually have a chance to catch a foul ball (perhaps even be hit by one!), and sit close enough to hear the players cheering and jeering from the dugout. Suffice it to say I love baseball. Here are a few poetry books for the baseball lovers in your classroom.

Rules of the Game, written by Marjorie Maddox and illustrated by John Sandford, is a collection that is not only a technical examination of the rules of the game and jargon, but also one filled with an intense love for the game. How can you not love a book with a poem devoted to the infield fly rule? Here's the concluding poem from the book.
Grand Slam

Dreams brimming over,
childhood stretched out in legs,
this is the moment replayed on winter days
when frost covers the field,
when age steals away wishes.
Glorious sleep that seeps back there
to the glory of our baseball days.

Poem ©Marjorie Maddox. All rights reserved.
Change-Up: Baseball Poems, written by Gene Fehler and illustrated by Donald Wu, is a collection of thirty-six poems in which the narrator describes his baseball-loving life. The collection begins in February with "Snow Baseball" and ends one year later with "Ballfield in February." In between there is anticipation, celebration, and a true reverence for the game. The fact that the narrator is a young boy who shares his love of the game with his family adds to the kid-appeal of this one. Here is one of my favorite poems.
Fielder's Mitt

On my shelf my mitt,
stiff from winter's bench-
warming cold,
waits for spring,
for mud-scuffed balls
slapping past, taunting
"Catch me if you can!"
--a challenge
that thaws my mitt
for a chase
through any mud-warmed
in suddenly spring.

Poem ©Gene Fehler. All rights reserved.
If you are interested in connecting this book to writing, you can download an activity sheet that encourages kids to write their own book of sports poetry.
While this last title isn't about baseball, it provides a fascinating look at how different sports began. The Fastest Game on Two Feet: And Other Poems About How Sports Began, written by Alice Low and illustrated by John O'Brien, this collection of 20 poems describes the invention of such sports as golf, tennis, rugby, surfing, frisbee, bowling, soccer, and more. Each sport is first introduced with a bit of informational text. Here's how the baseball page begins.
Although people all over the world have played bat-and-ball games since primitive times, Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., a surveyor who lived in New York City, is often called the father of modern baseball. After work he and his friend played town ball, a game with a bat based on an English game called rounders.
And here is the first stanza of the poem.
A Man with a Plan

Alexander Cartwright was up at bat
In blue flannel pants and a tan straw hat,
Playing at a game with a bunch of men,
A game they called town ball way back then.

Poem ©Alice Low. All rights reserved.
Low's book also includes an Author's Note, additional anecdotes, and a timeline.

Here are a few sites for baseball-loving kids (and the young at heart).
Have I missed some baseball poetry for kids or a great site? If so, please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I read CHANGE UP while researching a writing assignment and whoever reads that book is in for a treat.