Teaching an appreciation for poetry: Burlingame library offers reading … – San Mateo Daily Journal

Haikus, sonnets, odes and a variety of different genres of poetry will come into focus over the first month of the new year at the Burlingame Library.

Local students between kindergarten and fifth-grade are encouraged to create their own original work and present it at the children’s desk at the library, 480 Primrose Road, in exchange for a new book of poems.

This is just one of the perks offered during the library’s monthlong “poetry is cool” campaign, designed to inspire appreciation for reading and writing among local students, said Kathy von Mayhauser, the library’s Children’s Services manager.

“This program encourages them to be creative with writing and receive a book when they are creative with their writing,” she said.

Beyond the poem for book exchange, local schools will also compete against each other over which class can write and submit the most original poetry to the library.

The victor of the school competition stands to win a giant stuffed penguin, that could be added to the variety of rewards that have been offered by the library over the last 15 years the poetry appreciation program has been run, said von Mayhauser.

She said the initiative has been a tremendous success and popular among many local schools.

“The schools are very positive about the program,” she said.

Though the five public elementary schools in Burlingame, as well those in Hillsborough and a couple of private schools, typically participate, von Mayhauser said students from all over the area are invited to get involved.

She said last year more than 400 students wrote poetry and turned their work into the library.

The competition between the schools can be a fun way to add a little extra friendly element to the event as well, she said.

Parents are often the ones that are most enthusiastic about rallying school spirit in the poetry competition, she said.

“We’ve had parents at different schools who really got excited and got children excited to participate,” she said.

Teachers who bring their children to the poetry events get a free book of poetry as well.

Poetry is valuable because it can play an integral role in breeding a passion and appreciation for word craft and reading among learners, said von Mayhauser.

“Poetry is a beautiful language and the creative mind of a child comes up with beautiful words to express what they are thinking,” said von Mayhauser.

Another benefit of the program is teaching kids to appreciate types of poetry beyond the traditional rhyming works with which they are likely most familiar, said von Mayhauser.

To connect with older children who participate in the event, von Mayhauser said some will get their first exposure to famous poets such as Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.

There will also be longer, narrative poems which could be exciting for fourth- and fifth-graders, she said.

Younger students who come to the library throughout January will also have a chance to hear von Mayhauser read some of her favorite poets such as Jack Prelutsky.

There will be a variety of events targeted at kids of all ages, said von Mayhauser.

“We will have something for everyone,” she said.

The month rounds out Sunday, Jan. 31, with an event which allows young poets to read their original works in exchange for a cookie.

She said the open mic experience can be fun for the whole family, as students appreciate the opportunity to their poems read for an audience, and parents get to see their young poet try their hand at performance.

“Parents like to hear their children reading the poetry, and they all get a cookie,” she said. “What is better than that?”

Call 558-7400 or visit the city’s website for more information.


(650) 344-5200 ext. 105