I Need More Poetry in My Life!

About a month ago, I listened to an NPR program with Kwame Alexander and Nikki Giovanni discussing how poetry can be a powerful tool in protesting. You can check that out here. Together, they inspired me to read more poetry, so off I marched to the library to pick up some of Nikki’s books. I am currently loving Nikki’s book of poetry A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter. Her poems in this book range from lighthearted to deeply moving. Folks, this woman has a gift.

I also decided to introduce more poetry to my 2-year-old (almost 3-year-old) daughter. I found this book, Read! Read! Read! By Amy Ludwig VanDerwater; illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke.


We found it on the “New Books” rack in the children’s book section of the library and decided to give it a read. I did not look too closely at it as I placed it in our book bag with the other books we had selected, but when we finally sat down to read it, my heart was warmed from page one. The poems in this book celebrate the power of books and emphasize the impact words have on our lives. Here is one of my favorites:


Double Life

A book gives you a double life.

It builds a treehouse in your head

a haven you can climb to

when you wish to get away.


A book will always be a friend

reaching out two wordy hands

offering enchanted lands.


You can be and go

who and where

you’ve never been.


The cover opens.

You are born.


Let your double life begin.


One of my other favorites from this book is “Stories.” This poem articulates how a book can teach us to process our emotions and that “…tears heal broken hearts.” This is a book that will be finding its way into our permanent home collection.

Do you love poetry? What are some of your favorites? We would love to hear from you! Email us at Teamfriendshippodcast@gmail.com and share your favorite poems and authors of poetry with us!

Post written by Lauren Keen 

14: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

In this episode of Team Friendship Reads the Newberys we discuss the 2009 Newbery Medal winner The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. This book is a little creepy, and a few of us were not sure about it at first. But we all ended up loving this book. Before we get into our book discussion, we take some time to discuss Matt de la Peña’s article “Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children from Darkness” and Kate DiCamillo’s response. We hope you enjoy this episode! Please send us your thoughts! We love to hear from our listeners!

Show Notes:

  • Team Friendship is moving to Guernsey! (Not really, but we want to)
  • Granddaughters may not be children, but they are still offspring.
  • Matt de la Peña is not really our friend, but we wish he were.
  • New Scholastic 20th anniversary editions of the Harry Potter series with new cover illustrations by Brian Selznick = more of our money spent on Harry Potter merchandise.
  • Mandy doesn’t know how to pronounce Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Lauren doesn’t know how to abbreviate Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Kwame Alexander is AWESOME!
  • ALA YMA are coming soon!
  • We discuss Matt de la Peña’s article “Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children from Darkness” and Kate DiCamillo’s response.
  • Everyone needs to read Love by Matt de la Peña and Loren Long!
  • The importance of kids seeing themselves in children’s books.
  • We need some tissues during this part of the episode.
  • Leah finds a way to bring up Adam Driver during our discussion.
  • The importance of art. “Art puts our feelings into something we can see.” –Leah
  • More tissues!
  • Leah tells us how Neil Gaiman won both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal for The Graveyard Book.
  • Team Friendship is moving to Minneapolis now.
  • One of Neil’s favorite authors is Edgar Allen Poe…surprise, surprise.
  • Librarians are not babysitters.
  • Neil and Doctor Who
  • You are a good writer, Neil!
  • Leah is not a fan of the opening scene of this book.
  • Lauren loved the book so much that she listened to the audiobook version after reading the book.
  • “Spirits of the People”
  • Lauren brags about figuring out the mystery of Silas because she completely missed the revelation of Jack at the end of the book.
  • The sleer scene upsets Lauren so much she drops her notes.
  • Lauren makes a connection between the ghouls and The Two Towers.
  • We dig deep into the history of the Dance Macabre.
  • Lauren shares here crazy theory about the brotherhood of the Jacks.
  • We get a bit biblical.
  • Letting go of childhood
  • Life and Death
  • Is this book appropriate for kids?
  • “Life things”
  • Public school vs. Private school
  • Mandy shares some of her favorite quotes from the book.
  • Leah announces our next book.
  • We beg for some iTunes reviews.

Links related to this episode:

Amazon link to purchase The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – http://amzn.to/2BdEW3k

Amazon link to purchase Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan – http://amzn.to/2GWqwVS

Amazon link to purchase The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser – http://amzn.to/2C0nfRA

Lauren’s review of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Streethttps://teamfriendshippodcast.com/2018/01/23/the-vanderbeekers-of-141st-street/

Amazon link to purchase The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Borrows – http://amzn.to/2nHE9jH

Becoming Madeleine: a Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle In Time by Her Granddaughters https://www.madeleinelengle.com/books/melanges/becoming-madeleine-a-biography-of-the-author-of-a-wrinkle-in-time-by-her-granddaughters/

Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson have a new book coming soon – http://mattdelapena.com/carmela-full-of-wishes-press-release/

“Award-winning artist Brian Selznick will be illustrating seven new covers for Scholastic to celebrate 20 years since the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”  – http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/press-release/scholastic-publish-new-editions-celebrate-20th-anniversary-harry-potter-and-sorcerers-

Kwame Alexander to head new imprint for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/75946-hmh-taps-kwame-alexander-to-head-new-imprint.html?utm_source=Publishers+Weekly&utm_campaign=5aae2e2441-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0bb2959cbb-5aae2e2441-304466701

Katherine Applegate has a new book coming out soon – http://mrschureads.blogspot.com/2018/01/cover-reveal-endling-last-by-katherine.html

The American Library Association Youth Media Awards will be announced on February 12 – http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/presskits/youthmediaawards/alayouthmediaawards

“Affiliates Excited to Share Stage at ALA’s ‘Oscars'” – http://www.slj.com/2018/02/industry-news/affiliates-excited-share-stage-alas-oscars/

Matt de la Peña’s article – http://time.com/5093669/why-we-shouldnt-shield-children-from-darkness/?xid=homepage

Kate DiCamillo’s response – http://time.com/5099463/kate-dicamillo-kids-books-sad/

Matt de la Peña reads Love – https://www.facebook.com/matt.delapena.5/videos/10156780770815021/?fref=mentions

Neil Gaiman – http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Neil_Gaiman

Neil Gaiman on his writing journey for The Graveyard Bookhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eJW63DiZh4&feature=youtu.be

Neil Gaiman inside The Graveyard Bookhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1bISlZv220&feature=youtu.be

Colbert Report interview with Neil Gaiman – http://www.cc.com/video-clips/ck0fd5/the-colbert-report-neil-gaiman

Neil Gaiman: Three books that have changed his life – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpDl4RQuQYg&feature=youtu.be

Our personal contact info: 

Leah Clapp – https://www.instagram.com/leahranjel/

Mandalay Parkman – https://www.instagram.com/mandymalay/

Lauren Keen – https://twitter.com/Graciefirstborn

Also look for each of us on Goodreads!

Intro Music: “Feeling Good” by Royalty Free Copyright Music

Ending Music: “Ukelele” by Royalty Free Music from Bensound

*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



Lauren’s Favorite Read-Aloud Books


Today is World Read Aloud Day! Below are just some (emphasis on some) of my favorite read-aloud books.

The Snowy Day 2 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – In this 1963 Caldecott winning book, we experience the joy of being a child waking up to a large snowfall!

lmno peas 

LMNO Peas and 123 Peas by Keith Baker and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illustrations by Lois Ehlert – Each of these books is great for introducing letters and numbers to your children. There are many fun craft projects and activities that you can pair with them. Just do a search online, and you will discover a plethora of ideas!

very hungry caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – Days of the week, counting, and making healthy choices: this book helps us teach our children all these important lessons! Combine this with Eric Carle’s beautiful illustrations and you get a read-aloud masterpiece.

The Mitten 

The Mitten by Jan Brett – I love Jan Brett’s illustrations! It is surprising to me that she has never won a Caldecott medal. This is a delightful book to teach children how to make predictions by using the clues in the illustrations. It is also a good lesson on why we should not wear white mittens to play in the snow.


Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss – Dr. Seuss’s books are excellent read-aloud books! Horton Hatches the Egg just happens to be my personal favorite. “An elephant’s faithful one-hundred percent!”

Bear Hunt 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury – This is a fun book to have your children read with you. Have them repeat each line after you say it, or you can take turns saying the lines. Make it even more crazy by adding hand motions and making noises by clapping and patting your laps!

Curious George 

Curious George books by Margret and H. A. Rey – Children (and adults) can learn many lessons from this cute little monkey and his friends!

Animal Teeth 

What If You Had Animal Teeth? and What If You Had Animal Hair? By Sandra Markle, illustrated by Howard McWilliam – These books are a fun way to teach children about how animals’ teeth and hair play a role in their daily lives, and in some cases, their survival. The illustrations in these books are pretty awesome as well!

Creepy Carrots 

Creepy Carrots! By Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown – Jasper Rabbit loves carrots! One might even say he is obsessed with them. One day, he begins to see carrots everywhere, and they are angry and scary! Are the carrots seeking revenge, or is Jasper just paranoid?

The Day the Crayons Quit 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers – If you have never read this book, you need to. It is hilarious! In this picture book, we get a peek inside the minds of our crayons.

After the Fall 

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat – This book is so clever and inspiring! I did not see the ending of this book coming, and I was so pleased when I read the final page.  I would not be surprised if Dan earns another Caldecott medal for his work on this book.

Kissing Hand 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, illustrated by E. Harper and Nancy Leak – When I was teaching Pre-K, I would read this to my class every year on the first day of school. In this book, young Chester the Raccoon is heading to his very first day of school. Like most little ones, this is a very scary event as he has never been away from his momma for this long.

Each Kindness 

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis – There is a new girl at school. Not only is she different from everyone else, but no one will play with her or include her. This book teaches an important lesson on kindness, but not in the way we think it will.


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson – Observing the world around you, kindness, family, listening, community, and giving: these are all themes in this beautiful picture book. This book won the 2016 Newbery Medal as well as a Caldecott Honor award, and it is not hard to see why! Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson did an amazing work with this book! I am excited that they are collaborating on another book, Carmella Full of Wishes which will be released in October of this year! Check out our review of this book on episode 3 of Team Friendship Reads the Newberys: https://teamfriendshippodcast.com/2016/12/14/3-last-stop-on-market-street/

Junie B. Jones 

Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park – When I was first introduced to Junie B. Jones (in high school), I immediately fell in love with her! Barbara Park wrote Junie B.’s voice the way a Kindergartener talks and thinks. Some would argue that this is the reason they do not read these books to their children, but I see it as an opportunity to introduce literary terms such as voice, dialect, and vernacular.

El Deafo 

El Deafo by Cece Bell – In this graphic novel, Cece Bell tells her own story of growing up deaf. She shares how she felt as she went through one change after another: a new neighborhood, a new school, and new friends. She tells of her internal battle between not wanting to draw attention to herself and voicing her feelings about the ways in which she wishes others would interact with her (and the ways in which she wishes they would not interact with her).

Amelia bedelia  Amelia Bedelia Apple Pie 

Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish and Herman Parish – I grew up listening to the Amelia Bedelia books. These hilarious books teach children about idioms and figurative speech. If only Amelia Bedelia would learn to understand them! In the mid-1990s, Peggy Parish’s nephew Herman Parish took over writing the Amelia Bedelia series, and in 2009, he began the Young Amelia Bedelia books. Two of my favorites from this series are Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie and Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend.

Ballet Shoes 


Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild –This sweet book is the story of three girls who are rescued and adopted by a fossil collector. As their Great-Uncle Matthew (Gum for short) is away on his travels, the three girls are raised by Gum’s niece and the nanny who must find creative ways to educate them as there has been no word from Gum for many years, and the money is running out.

charlotte Web 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – This is a classic! I cannot read this book without crying!

Betsy Tacy 

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace – These books were some of the very first books I read as a young child, and now I am reading them to my own daughter. We love reading about Betsy and Tacy’s carefree, imaginative days: flying over their neighborhood on a feather, playing with their homemade paper dolls, and riding home from school in a carriage with all the hot cocoa they could ever want and a horse that talks!


The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser – This book is delightful, lovely, and heart-melting! I recently read this book and decided to write a review. Check it out here: https://teamfriendshippodcast.com/2018/01/23/the-vanderbeekers-of-141st-street/


Wishtree by Katherine Applegate – Is it possible for a neighborhood to be united by an old tree? This is a book that everyone should read. I have said this before, and I will say it again here, “There is no reason for you to not read this book!”

Flora & Ulysses Cover 

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo – Oh, Kate! Once again you use your words to fill our hearts with emotion beyond what we think we are capable of feeling! Only our dear friend, Kate could take a cynical little girl and a squirrel with super-hero powers and teach us the importance of love, forgiveness, and home. This has been Team Friendship’s favorite Newbery book so far! Check out our review of it in episode 5 of Team Friendship Reads the Newberys: https://teamfriendshippodcast.com/2017/03/14/5-flora-ulysses-the-illuminated-adventures/

What are some of your favorite read-aloud books? We would love to hear from you! Send us an email at Teamfriendshippodcast@gmail.com!

Post written by Lauren Keen