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Courage Out Loud: 25 Poems of Power

Authored by Joseph Coelho
Illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett
Published by Wide Eyed Editions

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Courage Out Loud: 25 Poems of Power: Joseph Coelho’s dedication in this book reads:

‘Courage is not the absence of fear, it is striving forward despite the fear you feel. This book is for all of those who feel afraid. You need to feel fear if you are to be courageous. May these poems help you take that first brave step.’

And in the introduction, the poet directly addresses the fears some readers might have towards poetry, reminding us that there is no right or wrong and that anything goes. These words will help readers, young and old, to embrace this lively and varied collection.

Some of the 25 poems address common fears and everyday acts of bravery such as making friends; being afraid of the dark; reading work aloud in class and fearing new experiences.  Other poems offer advice on how to deal with fear and what bravery might look like. In A Quiet Little Word, the reader is encouraged to write about their feelings and worries. Saying No explores the idea of people pleasing and having the courage to say no. In Fall Down Three Times Get Up Four, readers are urged to keep going after setbacks. The poems throughout the collection are both relatable and deeply personal. They offer scope for performance, discussion and reflection. Daniel Gray-Barnett’s illustrations are bright and appealing. I loved the joyous illustration which accompanies Finding Your Voice.

For each poem, Joseph Coelho offers guidance to the reader. This might be information about the poetic form; suggestions of how it could be performed or how readers might like to respond to the poem. Joseph Coelho also offers some personal reflections on the writing process. Key Stage 2 teachers will find this a rich and fun collection. It has the potential for both pleasurable sharing and supporting poetry teaching. Courage Out Loud 25 Poems of Power offers opportunities to discuss interpretations and explore the poet’s rich use of language. Some of the more affecting poems might be shared with individual readers. There is something here for everyone, and this collection will certainly help ‘fill the courage cup’.