Poetry for children of all ages: teaching Sharon Creech’s Love that Dog
Ute Ritzenhofen, Friday 10.30-11.00

“Is it a diary? Is it poetry? Is it a novel?” asks Benjamin Zephaniah in a review of Love that Dog and continues “Who cares? It's simply the most original book I've read for years.” And Sharon Creech’s book, published in 2001 and shortlisted for the Carnegie medal (awarded by children's librarians for an outstanding book for children and young people), is indeed difficult to classify. Written in blank verse, it tells the story of Jack, an American high school student, who is forced by his teacher to read – and to write – poetry. Although he hates poetry at first, his attitude changes over the course of a school year, while he is studying famous poets like William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, and Walter Dean Myers, and he manages to find his own poetic voice. This paper suggests a teaching unit about Love that Dog which introduces students to poetry. Using A. Cropley and K. Urban’s componential model of creativity as a theoretical starting point, it outlines teaching strategies which combine a detailed discussion of Love that Dog with creative assignments that foster students’ creative thinking and develop their creative writing skills. The teaching unit has been tested in a 9th grade English class, but is also suitable for more advanced classes.

Biodata will follow shortly.