A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
How I Discovered Poetry teaches kids about the civil rights movement, the Cold War, the Red Scare, and the Native American relocation program through the eyes of a child living through and learning about these things.
The importance of family and family support through uncertain times. How words can be used to express your inner thoughts, fears, and hopes.
Positive Role Models
Marilyn herself is a great role model, and her parents and teachers support her interest in poetry.
Violence & Scariness
References to violence stemming from the civil rights movement and concerns about the atom bomb and the Red Scare. The children conduct bomb drills in anticipation of war. One possibly disturbing incident takes place on the playground when two children break another child's arm using a seesaw when she used the "N" word.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Talk of girls liking or wanting to learn how to kiss boys.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Talk of people calling African Americans a "bad name" and allusions to the "N" word, but it's never actually said.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that How I Discovered Poetry, by Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson, is a memoir of her childhood growing up in a military family in the 1950s told though 50 free-verse poems. This book was named a 2015 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. There's discussion of the Cold War, the Red Scare, and the civil rights movement, and two children break the arm of another child because she used the "N" word.
Is It Any Good?
Marilyn Nelson's HOW I DISCOVERED POETRY is a beautifully written and vulnerable look at her life growing up in a military family during some of the most challenging times of American history. Nelson takes readers on a journey of self-discovery with such humor and honesty that readers feel the impact of each good-bye and delight in each new discovery as if it were their own.
Readers will love seeing the growth in Nelson's recollections as she advances in age from the funny misunderstandings of a 5-year-old to the aspirations of a young teen. Illustrator Hadley Hooper does a wonderful job of adding just the right touches to accompany Nelson's verse.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.