Tag Archives: Naomi Shihab Nye

Listening to voices

30 Apr

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month. I’ve been doing NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) with the students in my elective class, and we will keep going a while longer, since I only get to see them every other day.

I don’t often just sit and read a poetry collection – I am more likely to read a novel in verse – but I have been reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners at school during independent reading time. The collection has given me hope and inspiration.


Publisher’s Summary:Acclaimed and award-winning poet, teacher, and National Book Award finalist Naomi Shihab Nye’s uncommon and unforgettable voice offers readers peace, humor, inspiration, and solace. This volume of almost one hundred original poems is a stunning and engaging tribute to the diverse voices past and present that comfort us, compel us, lead us, and give us hope.

Voices in the Air is a collection of almost one hundred original poems written by the award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye in honor of the artists, writers, poets, historical figures, ordinary people, and diverse luminaries from past and present who have inspired her. Full of words of encouragement, solace, and hope, this collection offers a message of peace and empathy.

Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives. With short informational bios about the influential figures behind each poem, and a transcendent introduction by the poet, this is a collection to cherish, read again and again, and share with others

Backmatter includes biographies of all the people mentioned in her poems.

Voices in the Air

23 Mar

downloadI picked up an advanced readers copy of Naomi Shihab Nye’s Voices in the Air when I was at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver. I’ve been reading it at school, during independent reading time. Lovely poems reflecting on a variety of  artists, writers, poets, historical figures, and ordinary people.

I heard her speak a number of years ago at a conference. She was wonderfully dynamic and gave us advice I have tried to follow: write three lines everyday.

Imagine my delight when, Sunday night, I was listening to On Being on the radio and Naomi Shihab Nye was the guest. She read and talked about her poetry and her view of the world. Here are some of the bits I gleaned from the program.

  1. You are living in a poem.
  2. Very rarely do you hear anyone say they write things down and feel worse.
  3. Talking about poetry is also talking about how we move through the world.
  4. You have to write things down as they come to you.
  5. When you write things down, you find out what you notice.
  6. You listen to yourself when you go back and look at what you wrote.
  7. Consider reading your children awake when they get older.

If you read nothing else today, read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness”.


Crossing lines

7 Jul

Billed as a modern-day  retelling of Romeo & Juliet, Ronit & Jamil,  by Pamela L. Laskin is a novel in verse.


Publisher’s Summary: Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred.

The teenage lovers fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can only be kept secret for so long. Ronit and Jamil must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

To my mind, the book reminds me less of Romeo & Juliet than Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye, which came out in 1999.


Publisher’s Summary: The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family’s Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers, and speak a language she can’t understand. It isn’t until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?

Habibi  won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award and it is one that I don;t have in my classroom library, that I now think I want to add. As much as I liked Ronit & Jamil,  there is some mature content that precludes me putting it in a 6th grade classroom library.


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