Back in 2001, I was inspired by the CTA’s project where they posted poems throughout the transit system for people to read as they ride. I thought it would be a very cool thing to plaster the Youth Services Department at the Niles Public Library with poetry. But I knew that without some incentive, many children would walk past the poems without reading them, and so began our annual Poetry Scavenger Hunt.
On April 1st, I come in early and hang up 40-50 poems throughout the Youth Services Department, with a couple more spilling over into the Young Adult area outside the door. Each poem is typed out in a distinctive font (one that hopefully matches the poem’s style) and mounted on colored paper and laminated. Some of them are in clear view and easily found–others are tucked away and only the more determined searchers will find them.
Throughout the month of April, children can fill out a form where they write down the first line of each poem as well as its title and author. They also have to write down their favorite poem. If they find 20 poems, they can come collect a gel pen…so they can write their own poetry, of course! Some of them manage to do it a second time.
Then beginning April 15, the second phase of the poetry hunt begins, where any child who has completed part 1 can answer specific questions where you must find a particular poem to get the answer. The prize in past years has been a notebook…so they can write their own poetry, of course!
It’s a very low-key, low-maintenance program that never fails to bring me joy, so I wanted to share it with everyone else who works in Youth Services and loves poetry too. Here are some pictures from this year’s hunt.