How to teach a Poem to kids in less than 2 minutes…
Anyone who knows anything about children knows that children are deep thinkers.
Children are naturally inquisitive and curious. Children think about this great big world of ours and their place in it.
It’s important to know that poets have pondered these feelings and questions and even answers forever, and one such poet is 20th century Mexican poet Octavio Paz. Paz offers a wonderful way to let us know, and to let our children know, that we are never, ever alone…
BROTHERHOOD by Octavio Paz
I am a man: little do I last
and the night is enormous.
But I look up:
the stars write.
Unknowing I understand:
I too am written,
and at this very moment
someone spells me out.
Read this poem with your children. Let the words sink in and then read the poem again. Explain the word BROTHERHOOD – feelings of friendship, fellowship. The word brotherhood includes every single one of us, including girls and women. The word is all about being united.
Explain the speaker, or voice, of the poem. It is the word I.
Even though the speaker says, I am a man, the speaker could be you, your child, me or anyone who is feeling small in this enormous world… or even in our own little home or school or town.
Note how the poet uses the word night. Ask your children why they think the poet uses night rather than day (night gives the feeling of darkness, of being alone). Ask your children about the word enormous (gives us the feeling of being so very small).
But immediately, the poet brings us to a place where everything changes. The sky. The night sky, filled with stars. He looks up. Light. All of a sudden, surrounded by the beauty of the night sky that belongs to everyone, the speaker knows how important he really is. He cannot explain it (unknowing I understand), but he feels part of the whole, the Brotherhood of Man. The stars look down at everyone, excluding no-one (I too am written), and the speaker knows instantly that he is included (someone spells me out).
This little poem is packed with powerful images that will stay with your children. The night sky. Feeling small. Looking up. The stars. Feeling included and safe. Loved. The line *someone spells me out is one that will remain. Ask your children who spells them out. Ask your children if they will be the stars who spell someone out…
The great power of a poem is in the images and the lessons that are taken away. The lessons that remain. Remember that LITERACY is all about WORDS – Written, Spoken & Felt. Poet Octavio Paz certainly makes us FEEL these words.
*Project: Have your children spell out their names in stars and glue them to black construction paper! (Or you may wish to surprise them with their names spelled out.)