Margin Notes



What do you think of when you hear the word “warm”? What images or feelings might that conjure up for you?

For  Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency Neil Gaiman, the idea of “warmth” was top of mind when winter was settling in and he knew there would be many refugees living rough…without the comfort that warmth brings. He went to Twitter to ask a simple question: What are your memories of being warm?

Well, Twitter did not disappoint.

Gaiman received thousands of replies, compiled all the responses and, with the help of 12 talented illustrators, created this unique book: What You Need to be Warm: A Poem of Welcome.

Every page is full of “warmth” both in the words and the illustrations.

This would be a beautiful mentor text to use during poetry month. You could examine the way that Gaiman uses language to evoke feelings and look at how the illustrations help to bring the text to life. You could also discuss how Gaiman took all the memories and wove them into a poem.

A great way to do low stakes poetry writing is to a collaborative poem. Students could each create a poem (based on a question or prompt) and then could put them together into one longer text. Then, students could be encouraged to illustrate different parts. This could be done with paper/pencil or with technology.

Here are some ideas for prompts:

  • Home is…
  • Blue is… (Sample lesson plan here)
  • Choose a character from a class read aloud and write a poem describing them

This book reminded me a bit of Ain’t Burned All The Bright, a collaboration between Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin, because of the collaborative nature of the work. Here are two blog posts about that book.

What You Need to be Warm: A Poem of Welcome would make a great addition to a read aloud stack for Poetry Month, or any time of year!





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