Smile Out Loud: 25 Happy Poems is the follow-up anthology of poems from the dynamic pair who brought us Poems Aloud – London-born poet Joseph Coelho and Tasmania-based illustrator Daniel Gray-Barnett. This sparkling anthology of poems will dare to make you smile, laugh out loud, even guffaw and howl with glee! The anthology’s introduction reminds the reader that ‘poetry is fun and ultimately there are no rules’. This privilege to explore the power and potential of words is realised in Coelho’s original poems throughout this fresh edition with accompanying, vibrant illustrations from the talented Barnett.
A particular feature that I adore from both books in this series is the author’s inclusion of notes for the reader at the start of each poem. For example, in the poem ‘Imagination Running’, the reader is charged with this instruction – ‘When reading this poem out loud, invite your audience to close their eyes and imagine the different scenes that the poem creates. But be warned, the poem has a silly ending!’ This added touch makes the reader feel as if Coelho, himself, is talking directly to us, which adds to the transactional nature of reading his works: both the poet and the reader bringing their own thoughts and ideas into each poem, each uniquely exquisite. Barnett’s illustrations fill the page with colour and life, adding to the experience – the poetry and the artwork working together as a beautiful melody.
This book would fit perfectly as a classroom read aloud to inject moments of happiness into the daily routine – a quick poem when lining up for assembly, a cheeky read aloud before home time. Additionally, due to the nature of the poems, this anthology would be well-placed as a resource to support children’s reading fluency. These cheerful poems would provide a wonderful platform for the strategy of ‘repeated reading’ whereby readers read and re-read the same text several times with the aim of improving reading fluency (speed, accuracy and/or expression). Also along the reading fluency route, both Poems Aloud and Smile Out Loud would be perfect text choices to employ the strategy of Readers Theatre. This approach invites children to rehearse a chosen text by testing out different fluency techniques (attending to pauses, emphasis on words, varying voice tone and pace, etc.). As Readers Theatre culminates in a performance, this series would be the perfect choice.
Finally, if you have not visited Joseph Coelho’s website it is an absolute treasure-trove of information for the classroom. Viewers can watch Joseph performing poems from other anthologies – a perfect springboard for studying his works and the opportunity to hear the voice of the author, himself. Smile Out Loud is a must-have collection of poems for the primary classroom – perfect for younger readers, but also sure to be well-loved by older readers, as well.
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