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A Kick In the Head | Class #5, 2016

A Kick in the HeadThis is one of those books for kids that tends to be an eye-opener for most adults, too. Who knew there were this many poetry forms out there?!
Notice how the book could be enjoyed by just reading the poems. OR, if you want to learn more, you can see what the form is and use Chris Raschka’s symbols to help you remember. If you want even MORE, read the super-small print at the bottom of the page.

I hope you will all take time to read Janescko’s excellent introduction. He’s a teacher himself and knows how to explain poetry in ways that everyone can understand. Why all the rules? Well, would a basketball game be any fun to watch if there were no rules? Same with poetry. But he’s also good on why it’s okay to break the rules sometimes.

Most of all, I implore you NOT to read this book fast or all at once. If you were sharing this with children, you certainly wouldn’t. If you have to read it under time pressure (e.g. on reserve), then try to imagine it being read with children just a little bit at a time.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Sophie Blumert says:

    I really enjoyed the author’s introduction as he sets up the reader to be introduced to several different types of poems. He showcases several poems that follow the rules almost exactly, and others that start out following the rules and the subsequently break them towards the end. I particularly enjoyed “The Tyger” by William because of its play on words and on rhymes, and can see this being a really fun book for children to read as they are learning new vocabulary in school. I agree with the author that the rules present a challenge to the writer in that they must learn to stay within them, but that at a certain point you can treat them more as guidelines rather than a strict set of instructions. This can be useful for students who are starting to learn how to write poems as it offers them a good skeleton to begin with, but then they have the creative freedom to branch out and customize their poetry.

  2. Elizabeth Dorr says:

    For someone who has never really enjoyed or been interested in poetry, I loved this book! I found it quite accessible to both children and adults alike, and I could easily see this being used in a classroom setting to teach about different types of poetry, creative writing, art, etc. I especially loved the illustrations, which were so beautiful and bright; I almost wanted to frame them. One little touch I also appreciated was the small blue symbols for each type of poem that were so simplistic but truly conveyed the spirit of each type of poem. I think those are a nice way to engage different types of learners as well. Finally, I am curious as to why Janeczko chose to use the poem “A Kick in the Head” as his title, any thoughts?

  3. Marty Ray says:

    For someone who studied English Literature in college, I’ve always wondered if there was a ready reference for every different kind of poetry that exists. I finally found it. This was one of those books, which provides almost equal enjoyment, information and entertainment to children and adults alike. The style of the book and the illustrations, as mentioned above, are bright and cheerful, making the study of poetry fun and accessible, not dour or boring. Personally, I really enjoyed April Wayland’s version of Shakespeare’s sonnet number 12 alongside the original.

  4. Dominique Donette says:

    I loved this book! I plan to buy it for my little sister. She has a mild speech impediment and enjoys poetry. This will be a challenge for her but it’ll be a great read aloud option with awesome images to inspire her to keep turning the pages!

  5. Joanna Craig says:

    I loved reading “A Kick In The Head” because I love reading poetry, but also because the author did such a great job of explaining why there are so many forms of poems with a wide variety of rules. When I write my own poetry, what I love most is sticking to the rules and having that challenge as I choose the words. I think it also gives readers of poetry something extra that they can latch on to – if they do not know the words, or if they do not understand the topic, at least they can recognize the rhyming or the format or the sound of the poem. This book did a great job of adding illustrations to the poems specifically for those listeners who may not be reading yet. The reference pages at the end of the book seem especially useful for teachers or parents who might not know all of this information, but can read it before presenting this book to their students or children. Additionally, I think this book offers a way for people to use poetry in the classroom, perhaps by having children get started writing a poem about an image that they have drawn.

  6. Sammie Herrick says:

    I really loved this book. I think it makes poetry both accessible and fun. I know for a lot of my younger students, poetry is their least favorite unit in English. I think if they were offered more books like this, it wouldnt be. The bright illustrations really helps to make the book captivating. I also love that the text moves around each page (like on page 39 when the poem is shaped like a person!) I like that it gives examples of each kind of poem, so students can see the difference. I think often times students think of poems as one homogeneous thing, but this book proves just how different each poem can be. I think it could definitely inspire students to want to write their own poems.

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