100 Scope Notes
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Wanted: Book Spine Poems

Yeah, April! You used to be known almost exclusively as the month that brought showers. Seeing as how rain is the universal symbol for “downer”, I can’t imagine you were very pleased with that.

But now you’re known for something else – April is National Poetry Month. And around this neck of the woods the poetry form of choice is the book spine cento. What’s a cento?

Check out the 2011 Book Spine Poem Gallery to find out.

Or take a look at the work of Nina Katchadourian.

Students, teachers, librarians, book lovers, people who just like stacking things – let’s kick off National Poetry Month in style. Create your own book spine poem, snap a picture, and email it to me (scopenotes (at) gmail (dot) com) or post it to your blog and let me know. On Monday, April 2nd, 2012 I’ll post a gallery with all of the entries I receive, and I’ll add to it for the entire month of April.

Here are my tips for creating a book spine cento.

  1. Check out last year’s book spine poem gallery for inspiration (see link above).
  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.

Give it a try, send it my way, and see your work in these here pages on April 2nd.
I love April.

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. Barry Mernin (@LarryHermanHK) says

    I am SO DOING this with my students.


  2. Great to hear you’re going to give it a shot – I think your students will enjoy it.

  3. What a wonderful idea!

  4. Hi! Travis!
    I was so inspired by the spine poetry idea that after reading it over the weekend, I went right into the school library today and started hunting for just the right books to put together. I am posting my first go at spine poetry for Slice of Life Challenge 20 of 31.

  5. Hey Travis!

    Now that I am completed addicted to spine poems, there are a few awaiting your approval at my blog:

    Mandy Chock @ The Chockboard


  6. Now that I am addicted to book spine poems, here are a few for April!

    Mandy Chock @ The Chockboard

  7. We had a blast writing book spine poetry today. Thanks for your good work! Here is our work. http://krebs.edublogs.org/2012/04/10/book-spine-poems/


  8. This is amazing! And I had to share my joy because I just
    got a new job after I read the Linkedin Tips.


  1. […] Book Spine Poetry at 100 Scope Notes. Ms. B. did the activity with Grade 1 students! […]