From nursery rhymes to the well-crafted words of Robert Frost and Ogden Nash, poetry provides a way to understand place and the rhythm of life. April is National Poetry Month. Here are five ways to share the beauty of language with your family:
1. Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, Mass.
Visit this New England town and Ms. Dickinson's namesake museum throughout the month, or be there Saturday for a day of programs and activities devoted to this famous poet's art and legacy. "Celebrating Emily Dickinson's Words" includes poetry workshops, children's crafts and story time, a community poetry banner and an open-mic session so poets may share their work. The program includes a workshop for teens ages 13-18, "The Soul Has Bandaged Moments," about the ups and downs of being a poet.
Contact: 1-413-542-8161; www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org.
2. Mrs. Dalloway's, Berkeley, Calif.
Stop by this pleasant bookstore, art gallery and garden throughout the month and pick up a free poem selected by San Francisco Bay Area poets and poetry enthusiasts. Then stow the poem (or one you create yourself) in your pocket until April 29, the Third National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Unfold and share with family, friends and classmates; poems will also be read at events in parks, libraries, workplaces and schools across the country.
3. Poem on the Range.
From your front porch and beyond, join this collaborative multimedia project organized by the Academy of American Poets and designed to capture different views of poetry in the world. You and your family can contribute by uploading and geotagging photos of places that you believe have been immortalized by poems. Read the poem at the site or simply submit a photo or video. Add your point of view by April 21, and you may be eligible to win a prize.
Contact: 1-212-274-0343; www.poets.org/page.php/prmID/563.
4. Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at the Springfield Museums, Springfield, Mass.
If you loved "Green Eggs and Ham" and the other works of whimsical language brought to us by the beloved Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, then you and your family will enjoy visiting this memorial and sculpture garden in his hometown. Learn what inspired the man who penned more than 44 children's books, and see sculptures of Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose, the Cat in the Hat and other characters.
Contact: 1-413-263-6800; www.catinthehat.org/memorial.htm.
5. Animal Planet.
Become inspired by wordsmiths like Dr. Seuss and take your poetic license to the local zoo or animal park. Have fun writing your own rhymes along the way, taking cues from the shapes, sizes and sounds found in the natural world. Consider drawing pictures to illustrate the creative words. As a reward for the artistic efforts of your kids, visit the Poetry 4 Kids Web site to find more poems, games and to download the free rhyming e-book "My Hippo Has the Hiccups."