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Let the Countdown to National Poetry Month Commence!

April is National Poetry Month, or as I call it ’round these parts, National (Book Spine) Poetry Month. I actually do the air parentheses and everything. Last year, inspired by the amazing work of Nina Katchadourian, I tried my hand at creating a book spine cento. Here were the results:

I also encouraged all comers to give it a shot as well, and was amazed by what I saw.

Click here to view the book spine poetry gallery

Let’s kick off National Poetry Month in style. Create your own book spine poem, snap a picture, and send it my way (scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com) or post it to your blog and let me know. Starting tomorrow, I’ll post one of my book spine centos every Friday for the month of March. On Friday, April 1st, I’ll post a gallery with all of the entries I receive from you.

Here are my tips for creating a book spine cento

  1. Check out last year’s book spine poem gallery for inspiration.
  2. Get to  a place with plenty of books. A library works nicely. Or a large home collection.
  3. Start looking at titles, and see what strikes you. Arrange and rearrange in your head. The best part of this type of poetry is the fact that you don’t know where you’ll end up.
  4. Have a pencil and paper with you to write down titles that stand out – you can refer back to them later.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use the library catalog to look up titles with specific words or phrases that fit.

Do you want to try book spine poetry with your students during April? I’ll post a second gallery on April 1st exclusively for student poems, and add to it for the entire month.

Click here to view last year’s awesome student book spine poetry gallery

So create your own, send it my way, and see your work in these here pages on April 1st.

I can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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 scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. This is a fantastic idea. I can’t wait to use it with my classes in April Of course I will be practicing right away. :)

    • Great to hear it – I think your students will really enjoy book spine centos. A very low learning curve with often great results. I look forward to seeing their work!

  2. Writing these (I guess it isn’t really writing–arranging?creating?)is rapidly becoming addictive.

  3. Absolutely too much fun. I will have to share this will fourth graders in an upcoming poetry-themed school visit. :0)

  4. Here’s my book spine post: http://sassyshelver.blogspot.com/2011/03/book-spine-poetry.html Feel free to add the pictures to your gallery.

  5. Daniella F., Grace D., Tara C. says

    The lost Princess of Oz
    Disappearing Acts
    Go and Come Back
    Then Again, Maybe I Won’t

    This poem is about a princess who does not want to be a princess anymore. So she ran away and was going to come back, but then decided not to.


  1. […] Jonker at 100 Scope Notes is kicking off National Poetry Month by posting a gallery of Book Spine poems. I have to say these […]

  2. […] For an extra dollop of inspiration, parents, teachers, and word-loving folks may want to check out this great link for creating book spine poetry. […]