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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

2010 Book Spine Poem Gallery

I’m impressed.

Three cheers for the brave souls who took book spines and created their own poetic masterpieces (or centos, as Laura Purdie Salas tells me). There’s some great work here.

Be sure to visit Becky’s Book Reviews for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

@ A Year of Reading

@ Bookends.

@ Papertrails Family Book Blog.

@ Stone Arch Books Blog.

@ Bookends.

@ Kathryn Apel.

@ Charlotte’s Library.

An excellent group of student poems @ Ms B’s Book Blog.

@ Bri Johnson.

Another one by Bri Johnson.

@ Annie Beth Ericsson.

@ Chachic’s Random Ramblings.

@ Kimberly Joy Peters.

@ World of Words.

The trouble with poetryis that it’s not just joyful noise;
it’s where I live–
my thoughts flicker flash
checking in to hotel deep
whirling in the spin of things

And I veer between faith and doubt
as something new begins…
a ten-second rainshower waters seeds that were
once upon ice
but now warm as we swing around the sun

I wish I could write simple poems in black and white
shape a rhyme in geometric perfection
but I’m tap-dancing on the roof instead
wondering what is goodbye?
do rabbits have Christmas?
what voices could we hear from a medieval village?
which would be worse: math curse or science verse?
are alphathoughts the leaders of the alphabet pack?

so this is just to say that
technically, it’s not my fault I’m insane
I’m busy reaching for sun andlistening for the song of the sparrow

A photoless entry from laurasalas.

@ A Certain Quality of Spirit.

This is my second attempt.

This is my original.

@ Nina Katchadourian. Her work was where the idea came from.

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. This is fabulous! What a fun project for middle school kids, too!

  2. I plan on doing this as one of our teen programs for Poetry Month in April–I love this and can’t wait to see what the teens come up with!

    • That’s a great idea. There is something about this style that seems very well suited for kids and teens. I’d love to see the results!

  3. A whole new way for me to look at kids and teen books! These are so much fun and sooooo interesting.

  4. I love these — I think if I got started doing these, I’d be fiddling with them all day.

    • Ha – yes, you may find that you have to cut yourself off. Once I started, I kept looking at books, thinking of ways to make my poem better.

  5. Wow, what a fun read! Thanks!


  6. What a great idea. And some fun poems as a result.

  7. What a wonderful idea! Simply brilliant – and so simple. MUST try it. (And I thought I had plans for the day… :) )

  8. Ummm… Let me qualify. Simple concept, though by NO means simple in reality. Finding the perfect titles to match and build the poetry. Finding them on your bookshelf… I can see this being a task for library day!

  9. Hi Travis,

    I’ve posted a couple of spineys to my blog; . Good fun!

  10. Wow–these are amazing! I love them. My favorite is The Witches/Paint the Wind/Step by Wicked Step.

    Wicked cool:>) Great job, everybody!

  11. These are so cool, and so impressive! I did a few of my own using books from my publishing company (Capstone Fiction).

  12. Hey, Travis – we created our own book spine poem today using kids’ books. What a great idea – check it out at

    The Papertrails Family

  13. Thanks for sharing!!! My second grade students are going to have fun reading these, and then we’ll give it a try ourselves!!! How creative.

  14. So today I can either get real work done or create poetry with book spines. Why does gluing books sound so much less appealing now?

    • Ha – yes, I know there are few things more entertaining that book repair. I’m glad you found a distraction.

  15. What a wonderful activity! Our school librarian happened to pop in my ELA class today and I showed him (& my students) your post. We are all excited to try this and have already started planning to make some cool posters for our library. Thanks so much for sharing!

  16. Chiming in late – I only just found this yesterday. My school library partner and I are going to run a book spine poetry “contest” in our school library; we’ll be posting our students’ work on our school’s website. Such a great idea!

  17. Thanks for sharing this unique idea. What a great way to unite poetry and prose! It’s one of those ideas that gets your feet bouncing on the springs to even more ideas. This could be fun to do with the first lines of novels too. Thanks again!

  18. This is a wonderful idea! I can’t wait to start trying it myself. Thanks for sharing this.

  19. I enjoyed this post a lot and decided to play along. You may see the humble results of my experimentation here — my friends also made some pretty great contributions in the comments.


  21. I am looking forward to starting a book spine poetry club at my school. (What a brilliant idea!) Do you have any recommendations on how to get kids started? Did you pull a ton of books to get them going? How did you focus their brainstorming? Thanks for any ideas you can share!

    • Hello! It’s cool to hear that you’re interested in giving book spine poetry a shot with your students. Here would be my tips:

      1. Either bring students to the gallery online:
      or print some of the gallery examples and show them. I don’t think there is any better way to explain spine poetry than to show it.

      2. Give students paper and pencil. Since students won’t have any idea what their poem will be when they start, it helps to be able to write down titles that they might want to use. They can return to their favorites later. It’s amazing how quick you can forget things when you’re browsing.

      3. Look before you pull. A project like this can easily become a shelving nightmare. Encourage students to look first, and only pull books when they are assembling their final poem.

  22. Love the spine book galleries but, alas, the trick of getting all the books if the library does not have them when you want them and you don’t own them all which is always my issue!

  23. Karen Gray Ruelle says:

    What fun!

  24. Oh my goodness, this gave me a giggle early in the morning. I love this project. Great job!

  25. FUN!! I will definitely try this with my 7th graders. They will love it!

  26. Just did this with my fourth graders – they loved it!!! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful poems!

    Happy World Poetry Day!


  1. […] Today my twitter tweet chirruped a peck of poetry. A spiney, to be precise. I first read about it here at Travis’ site, and of course, decided to try some of my own. The three-lined poems […]

  2. dmm says:

    100 Scope Notes – Children's Lit…

    […] […]…

  3. […] latest awesome thing at 100 Scope Notes – Spine Poetry!  Check out the collection of submissions, […]

  4. […] Over at 100 Scope Notes Travis is building a gallery of book spine poems. I was fascinated by this idea and had to try it out. Since this is Women’s History Month I […]

  5. […] Scope Notes had a great post earlier this month with book spine poetry. I love […]

  6. […] children’s literature blog, 100 Scope Notes, and challenge others to give it a try. There were a bunch of outstanding takers, including teachers, librarians, and […]

  7. […] of 100 Scope Notes has compiled a gallery of book spine poems and it is marvelous. I was too lame to remember to make one, but do check out all the awesome poems […]

  8. […] first poem is actually a collection of Book Spine Poems I read on Travis Jonker’s blog. It’s a novel idea and one I hope to incorporate into my class this month. My favorite from […]

  9. […] Scope Notes had a great post earlier this month with book spine poetry. I love […]

  10. […] i saw this post the other day called a book-spine poem and wondered, “what in the world is a book-spine poem?” well, it’s basically where you set up book, spines out,  and read the titles as […]

  11. […] to Travis Jonker, for the ideas on his blog and the ALSC […]

  12. […] long enjoyed the book spine poems invented by Travis Jonker at 100 Scope Notes, and this year I finally decided to try my hand at […]

  13. […] For additional inspiration, check out these examples of book spine poetry. […]

  14. […] a look at this Spine Poem Gallery by […]

  15. […] Public Library: National Poetry MonthDIY MFAE. Kristin AndersonPoetry for Children For Educators:Book Spine PoemsReading Rockets: National Poetry MonthRead, Write, Think: National Poetry MonthApril 26: Poem in […]

  16. […] Over at 100 Scope Notes Travis is building a gallery of book spine poems. I was fascinated by this idea and had to try it out. Since this is Women’s History Month I […]

  17. […] concept. Some quick Googling tells me it was invented by the always awesome Travis Jonker over at 100 Scope Notes. Anyhow, you simply take books and stack them together so that the titles on the spines create a […]

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