Ask a Giraffe

Giraffes and librarians. They have a lot in common. Seriously.

by ForeverOtaku Click to link to artist!

by ForeverOtaku
Click to link to artist!

Both can reach high trees and shelves to find important sustenance for body and mind. Both have a way of seeing the big picture; giraffes with their long necks and librarians (even the short ones) with their far-reaching research chops. Both have ways of effectively defending themselves; giraffes with swift kicks and librarians with the swift truth. Take that “alternative facts!”

Not Today!

Not Today!

And, of course, giraffes and librarians both love their children!


Unfortunately, giraffes and librarians both have one more thing in common. They are both endangered. Even though the link between well-staffed school libraries and higher school test scores has been thoroughly documented, school libraries across the United States continue to fall behind in needed funding and school librarians continue to be “phased out.” The world needs giraffes and civilization definitely needs librarians. More than sixty-five percent of all incarcerated inmates are classified as having a low rate of literacy. Librarians matter. Librarians kick back at the lions of ignorance and do everything in their power to educate children and gift them with the power of literacy.

In honor of giraffes and librarians, and in keeping with the promotion of April as both “Library Month” and “Poetry Month,” here is a poem for our beloved giraffes and librarians. Enjoy and pass it along to your favorite giraffe or best-loved librarian:

Ask a Giraffe  

Art by Julia Collard Click for link to purchase

Art by Julia Collard; Click for link to purchase

If you want to know

How the treetops grow

Or how it feels

To eat leafy meals

Just ask a giraffe


If you like the way

That dolphins play

And you’d like to be

Deep down in the sea

Go sail with a whale

Download from; click for link

Download from; click for link


If you want to unearth

Our earth’s ancient birth

Or investigate rock

From diamond to chalk

Sit alone with a stone


If you’d like to look

At a curious book  child_on_giraffe_head

And use your mind

To seek and to find

If you love to be

In the library

Then come sit with me


– Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud



– Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud


Poem in a Library Pocket

Put a Poem in Your Library

Put a Poem in Your Library

April is National Poetry Month and Library Month as well. Put the two together, and you have plenty of opportunities to celebrate both at once. The “Poem in a Pocket Library Challenge” is one way to get students interested in checking out a wide range of poetry books and finding the treasures hidden inside. The bulletin board in the elementary library at our school is now full of colorful pockets which hold pieces of poems.


The books from which these poems were plucked are lined up beneath the bulletin board. Students are challenged to read a pocket poem, find it in one of the books, grab a response slip and fill out the information: name, grade, poem number, book title and page on which the poem can be found. They then put their response slips in the poetry box.


At the end of the month, all of the correct slips are gathered together and a drawing is held. The winners get a free book, (compliments of the library), and they also win a free donut party for their whole class.

I even hid one of my own poems, (published in Cricket magazine), in there with the rest of some famous and some obscure poetry. So far, no one has found “Lost and Missing,” which I suppose is poetic justice. I wonder how many of these poems they will be able to track down. Some are hidden in poetry books of many, many pages. Others are nestled in short books of translated Japanese haiku verse.


The students have already started checking out poetry books and they are off on their poetry treasure hunt! It is always a treat to see such excitement in the library. Let me know what kinds of poetry activities you have planned for your library.

Put a Poem in Your Library

Put a Poem in Your Library

Pocket Poems

April is Poetry Month! Ironically enough, it is also Mathematics Awareness month and while I gravitate towards poetry I flee from mathematics. If I landed in Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth,” I would undoubtedly side with the denizens of Dictionopolis and not the inhabitants of Digitopolis. I am probably not being fair, since poetry celebrates math in its rhythm and meter, but for me, anyways, April is Poetry Month.

Like many libraries around the world, we are using a “Poem in Your Pocket” theme to generate interest for poetry of all types. In the junior library, the bulletin board posts a challenge to young readers… read the “Pocket Poem” and find the book that contains the poem and indicate the page number. All entries will be put into a drawing at the end of the month for a prizes. (I usually give away books.)

The beautiful pockets were made by our head librarian who is an accomplished seamstress. We selected some of the poems to match the material pattern of the pockets. The pattern that included buses and crossroads and maps ended up holding Robert Frost’s “Road Less Traveled” in the junior library and “Travel” by Edna St. Vincent Millay in the high school library. A pocket whose patterns is populated with owls holds “The Owl and the Pussycat” and Joyce Sidman’s “Dark Emperor.”

We have collected poem suggestions and even original poems from school staff members. All library patrons are encouraged to “pick a pocket” and take one of the many poems home with them.

As patrons pocket our poems, we will add new ones. Here in Tokyo, as the sakura petals pile in drifts on the ground, it does seem very appropriate for April to be Poetry Month.

It’s hard not to stop and stare at the spectacle of falling pink snow. Perhaps that is why April is also officially “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.”