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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

Spontaneous Poems on the Power of Words

So, we were reading aloud the book Love That Dog, by Sharon Creech, and close to the end, there's a crushingly sad part. (I won't spoil it, but maybe you've guessed.)

A couple of students cried. Real tears.

One girl said, "Man, I'm cryin' over here!" Sob.

I was not the least bit surprised. Happens every time I read this book.

I said, "It's not an author's job to make you feel happy. It's an author's job to make you feel. That's the power of words."

Whoa. Floodgates. An energetic and excited conversation ensued, which the sixth graders eventually tied to our censorship unit at the beginning of the year. (Be still my heart!)

The gist of what they said, "Dictators don't want people to know things, and they keep information from people, and it's powerful."

The Power of Words, Indeed

They had to go to Library Hour next, and I told them that I wanted to know their thoughts on the topic now—while it was still fresh. So, they started writing, hurriedly and furiously, in their notebooks... words, poems, ideas, emotions...

I typed them up during Library Hour and posted them in the hallway.

One girl saw her typed up version and immediately ask, "Can I revise it?"

Why, sure. Voluntarily revising? A writing home run.

Here's what my jazzed up sixth graders had to say about the Power of Words.

A Poem
by Griffen

Some people say, “Oh, you can talk the talk.”
But, do you talk just to talk
do you do something just to do something
Do you do something to be popular
We are all guilty of that…sometimes
You could be the funniest kid in your class
You could be the most popular
You could be…

Words can change over time. By that I mean your emotions can
change. You could hate a kid one day; the next day he apologizes or
says something nice to you and you’re friends.

by Mark

If you told me to say the strongest word I know, I would think of a swear word, but not say it. The reason is that a wall was built between children and adults called bad/swear/cuss words and when you tell us not to say, think, or do anything with those words, human curiosity makes us do the exact opposite.

That wall may be built on a foundation of discipline and morality, but there are cracks in the wall; cracks that have words flow through.

The adults use these regularly so they are small to them; they use them childishly. These ‘small’ words then fall thorough the cracks of the wall and into the child’s ear.
The word then registers into the child’s brain and stays there forever.

So, when the restricted word then comes out and parents restrict the word, the child then registers the word as bad. When they group up the cycle continues.

Words are Powerful
by Steven

Words have the most power
more power than any bomb
they can be your friend or enemy
some will hurt and others will help
and some may just be words
but in the end words are words
and there is nothing more powerful than them.

The power of words is very strong. If you have a great day and
someone comes up to you. One syllable can be a knife in the heart. If
you have a bad day and someone coms up to you – one syllable and
it’s all rainbows and sunshine. Words are stronger than you think,
stronger than you ever imagined, stronger than you. Words can
change the kindest of kids to mean horrible people. Same the other

by Lillie

Words have power
To crush
To fix
To tear you down
To help you up
To make you feel


Something’s here, but I can’t explain it,
Pushing, pulling, ripping me apart.
But I live on
And I am strong
The power of words

Inspired by Love That Dog
by Dino (whose dog died)

something is missing,

The Power of Words
by Mary

I have so much to say and don’t know where to start. Words are what are changing the world. So many people are inspired by words, especially songs.

But other words in books inspire you to live life as it is. Now that I think about it, you can choose how you want to be inspired - by choosing a book or song.

There are songs that have bad things in them, which is changing the world hugely!

It is getting harder and harder to write good words. Why make bad words when words
are meant to inspire. When you are upset, say something good, don’t swear because you will inspire other people to swear too and then the whole world will go mad.

by Natalie

Words can always make you feel something. And once you say a word that might be mean the person or people that you said it to has all ready felt what you said. You can’t take that back.

Of course you can apologize, but what you have said… well… you’re all ready said it! It’s out there. There is no time machine! So, if you want to take it back, then… you shouldn’t have said it.

Power of Speech
by Amanda

The power of speech is everything. No one has the right to take that away. No matter what you are good at or bad at, no one can take away your right to speech. Everyone has the power of speech but, sadly, not everyone uses it.

No Title
by April

Words are REALLY powerful. Words can inspire people to do
amazing things like paint a picture, or create something beautiful.

The Power of Words
by Audrey

Words can bring pain, joy, sadness, happiness.

They can cause emotions larger than anything you could imagine. They can be
unique, strong, or just a copy of feelings. If you don’t feel something as you write, your words aren’t powerful enough.

If you cause someone to cry, smile, laugh or just ponder for hours at a time, you are a writer. Everyone has the power to create powerful words; you just have to unlock it.

Your talents may be drawing, reading, math or others, but that’s still powerful words.

Words are the building blocks of everything.

The Power of Words
by Ali

You don’t need a fancy title to have power. Everyone has extreme power. All you need is a pen and paper and you can be the most powerful person ever!

Everyone has their own power. I can draw, but I can’t write an awesome story. And other people can write the best stories, but can’t draw a stick figure.

Everyone has some power, but sometimes it is not seen. Even by that person.

All because they might be afraid to try it. If you fail, do it awesomely! But whatever
you do, do not do something if it’s called ‘uncool’ or you’re afraid it won’t go well.

DO IT ANYWAYS! It could be your ultimate power.

The Power of Words
by Lila

Words are very strong. Words can sometimes be a good thing, but can also be a bad thing. The power of words is unbelievable.

Words can make you happy when you’re depressed or motivate you when you are down on yourself. That’s probably 1/1,000 of the things words can do. It’s amazing! Words are stronger than violence.

Words Can Make Me Feel
by Olivia

Words can make me feel like I’m inspired. For example: When I sing a song or say words it brings out the knowledge that I can do anything, but not everything.

It makes me excited that other people have made differences with only words. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, immigrants who stood up to King George III from England and moved here.

The Power of Words
by Aaron

The power of words can be good and bad. Now you’re probably wondering how can words be good and bad. When you use complements you’re using good words.

When you use swear words, you are using bad words. So use good words.

words = power
by Emma


What they cause to dictators…

Words let you express your freedom, they let you know when a natural disaster happens, wars, or even if someone is in danger.

They can mean the difference between life and death, freedom and slavery.

by Theresa

Honestly, words have the power to change everything. Earlier I wrote
a poem entitled ‘monster.’ It created such an uproar within my family.
They finally understand. They understand how powerful words are

Powerful Words
by Joey

There are words with power and wonder,
Let us use these words of power and wonder
Let us use these powerful words.
We need to know these words and their meanings
Let us learn these powerful words
We need to stop the abuse of these words
Let us stop these powerful words
Let’s try not to extinct, but just stop these words.
Let us save these Powerful Words!

What Next?

How to harness and expand this passion and enthusiasm?

A good historical fiction book to follow this unit is Nightjohn, by Gary Paulsen, about a slave in the American Civil War. The slave risks everything to be able to use words—to read and write—because he understands their power.

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