Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Friday - Looking Like Me

I recently visited a different branch of our metropolitan library, and discovered they have an amazing children's section. What I really loved was how they had poetry books highlighted the day I was there. Many interesting, engaging front covers facing out for someone to just reach out and grab. So grab I did!

One of my finds that day was Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers. I loved this book on several different levels.

First, I love the message I took away after reading it -- that we all have many identities and those identities are to be celebrated.

Second, Myers does a fabulous job giving different perspectives as the child in the book hears from all the people in his life that day about how they view his importance to them. The add-on quality of the verse as the child starts to list everything he is based on others' perceptions is quite lyrical.

As the child talks to all the different people, he fist-bumps them after they tell him what he means to them and then uses the phrase, "I gave it a bam!" This phrase conveys to me a sense of celebration for all that he means to each and every one of those people.

The poem starts with the child in front of the mirror saying,

"I looked in the mirror
And what did I see?
A real handsome dude
Looking just like me."
Then he proceeds to fist-bump ("I gave it a bam") himself.

So, it seems only appropriate that the book ends with the child talking to the reader and telling them to find a mirror, "think of all the things you do and all the things you say", and to start with themselves by giving "yourself a great big smile and your fist a great big bam!" What a celebration of each individual!

Finally, both Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers have author blurbs, done in the same text that explain who they are.

I think the identity of who we are is huge in this book. I can't wait to share it with my students (one in particular). I don't mean to trivialize this book or make it lesson plan-y, but I can definitely see using it at the beginning of the year with a new class as we are building community, learning each others' identities, and how each of us is an important member of the community.

Looking Like Me is a gem!!


  1. Karen, This book sounds wonderful! I'm getting ready to start a new writing project with my after school writing club of 4th and 5th graders. We are going to do some mulit-genre writing about ourselves and hopefully publish their work digitally. This book sounds like it will be perfect to use as I begin the new project. Thanks for the ideas!

  2. The power of conversation: your feelings about this book made me question my initial snap judgement, so I was loosened up and ready to really listen when we talked about it on Monday in terms of its language arts notableness. I'm still not in love with the illustrations and I still can't wait to see what kids will say, but I have a whole new perspective on the text. (Don't tell -- it made the list!)