Sunshine through Poetry

January 9, 2009

Reading the copyright page (yes, I’m always looking for the dedication and any author’s note, so sometimes I check the  copyright page for information.  I’m not crazy), it stated, “portions of the text previously were published as a the poem “To Be Like the Sun” in Getting Used to the Dark:  26 Night Poems.”  After reading this book, I’m interested in reading the poetry book.

to be like the sun by Susan Marie Swanson (and yes, the title is in all lower case) has a lovely child-like innocence voice that shares her curiosity and interest in a sunflower seed.  Listen to the beginning:

Hello, little seed,

striped gray seed.

Do you really know everything

about sunflowers?

The little girl talks to the plant.  Here is an opportunity to talk about living things versus non-living.  Another possible opportunity is to look at how the author tries to make this living thing like a person.  this personification amplified in the text draws me in.

I hear the rain chattering

to all the seeds underground.

Are you listening?

I can’t hear you say

anything back.”

Margaret Chodos-Irvine illustrates the book that invites children in to read and feel apart of the experience of planting a seed and observing it’s growth.

In the end, she reflects, “I remember how hard you worked to be like the sun.”  She remembers what the sunflower seed had done, very sequential, but not a “step by step” text.  Time passes with the illustrated seasons and authored word choice.  The text flows so smoothly from one line to the next that when you read the end, you smile, thinking of sunshine.

Savorings for reading and in writing for to be like the sun:

  • Personification – “All the instructions are written in your heart.”  (I love that line.)
  • Science – questioning, hypothesizing, observing
  • Size Comparison – “Your picture is smaller than my had, and a sunflower seed is smaller than a word
  • Voice – “All these seeds – are you tired of holding them up?  What makes them so heavy?  Is it light caught inside you?
  • Simile – “A bud like hand closed tight around a treasure