100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

I Created My Own Book Spine Poem and So Can You (And Your Students/Patrons)!

April is coming up. April is National Poetry Month. April is the time for book spine centos (see above). It makes a great program for kids (or former kids). So . . .

Here are my tips for creating a book spine cento:

  1. Check out the book spine poem gallery for inspiration. This is always a big help.
  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 start arranging the poem on paper. This also helps so that you don’t have to take a bunch of books off the shelf before you have your poem set.
  5. Once your poem is close to finished, don’t be afraid to use the library catalog (if available) to look up titles with specific words or phrases that fit.
  6. Take the books off the shelf, stack ’em up, and take a picture. Amaze your friends.

Additional Resources:

What is a cento?

Sorted Books by Nina Katchadourian

National Poetry Month website

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. Dana Frank says:

    My students all have iPads, so they go around with their browsing sticks and take close-ups of individual spines. They crop the pictures and then arrange them in an app to make a poem. Cuts down on books to put away! They love it! Thanks for the idea years ago!