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Let Students Hear Michael Rosen and Others Read their Poems Aloud for National Poetry Day

What better way to get pupils excited about verse this National Poetry Day 2019, than by letting them hear poets reading and talking about their own work?

  • Let Students Hear Michael Rosen and Others Read their Poems Aloud for National Poetry Day
Click here to download the full poems and classroom resources included in this feature.

National Poetry Day celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019, with schools very much invited and encouraged to be a part of it!

The date for NPD is 3 October and as usual, there are all kinds of exciting events planned – both on the day itself, and throughout the year – with free resources galore available to download here, including lesson plans, posters and more. And Teach Reading & Writing is getting involved, too…

Every NPD has a theme, and this year’s is ‘truth’; it’s a big topic for children to consider, but one that’s arguably never been more important. We wanted to know how thinking about ‘truth’ might inspire a poet – so we filmed five of your pupils’ favourites reading a piece of their own work with a connection to the theme, and talking about some of the ideas behind it.

There are some tasters here, and all five videos, but you can download the full text of the poems, and suggestions for teaching and learning activities related to each one, here – why not share them with your class today?

Here are the poems:

1 | Michael Rosen reads ‘Newcomers’

Michael Rosen, National Poetry Day Ambassador, reads ‘Newcomers’


My father came to England
from another country
My father’s mother came to England
from another country
but my father’s father
stayed behind

‘Newcomers’ from the collection Quick, Let’s Get Out of Here by Michael Rosen (Puffin Books, 2015). Text copyright © Michael Rosen, 1983. Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

Michael says

“Sometimes in poems you don’t have to say everything, so the person listening can get the truth by the way you said it.”

Why not try…

Asking pupils to write about something special to them, in a way that tells the reader how they feel, without saying it directly?

2 | Rachel Rooney reads ‘Truth or Dare’

Rachel Rooney, National Poetry Day Ambassador, reads ‘Truth or Dare’


Have you peed in a swimming pool?
Count to fifty without blinking.

What do you secretly wish for most?
Say exactly what you’re thinking.

© Rachel Rooney 2019

Rachel says

“I was thinking about the theme of truth and it reminded me that when I was young, we used to play a game where we would all sit in a circle and there was a bottle in the middle and we used to spin it and whoever the bottle ended up pointing to, had to choose between a truth or a dare.”

Why not try…

Discussing why the poet chose to arrange the stanzas in the way she has done?

3 | Karl Nova reads ‘The Misinformation Age’

Karl Nova, National Poetry Day Ambassador, reads ‘The Misinformation Age’


We’re in a time when everyone thinks their opinion is truth
They think every thought they spew is absolute
everyone seems to be an expert and a critic
that seeks to speak for everyone
I don’t get it

© Karl Nova 2019

Karl says

“Truth in poetry is important in thoughts and emotion.”

Why not try…

Encouraging children to write about an issue they feel passionately about in the current climate?

4 | Joseph Coelho reads ‘January’

Joseph Coelho, National Poetry Day Ambassador, reads ‘January’,
inspired by the legend of two murmurations of starlings warring
above the City of Cork in Ireland in the 1600s


They were the Rorschach of the winter months,
the folding of sky-shadows,
of air-shoals pirouetting into the January nip,
swarms riding frosted winds,
silently testing the sky with their ink-magic

‘January’ from the collection A Year of Nature Poems by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd (Wide Eyed Editions, 2019). Text copyright Joseph Coelho, 2019.

Joseph says

“As we know of legends, they are not always true, and I find that fascinating.”

Why not try…

Getting pupils to draw on some of the poetic devices used by Joseph Coelho to write their own poems about the natural world?

5 | Victoria Adukwei Bulley reads ‘This Poem is Not About Parakeets’

Victoria Adukwei Bulley, National Poetry Day Ambassador,
reads ‘This Poem is Not About Parakeets’


On the bus back, two men make noise and all else
falls silent, or leans away. One woman gets off
altogether. I pull my headphones out. The air
thickens. The men are angry. Words leave their
mouths and hit the windows like flies. They’re
everywhere, everywhere you look. I’ve got seven
stops left. What we want is our country back.

‘This Poem is Not About Parakeets’ by Victoria Adukwei Bulley. Taken from: Rising Stars: New Young Voices in Poetry. Poems by Ruth Awolola, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Abigail Cook, Jay Hulme and Amina Jama. Illustrations by Riya Chowdhury, Elanor Chuah and Joe Manners. October 2017 Published by Otter-Barry Books in association with Pop-Up Projects and Arts Council England.

Victoria says

“People’s beliefs differ quite strongly and there are some truths that don’t get the kind of amplification or voice that they deserve.”

Why not try…

Talking about how it’s possible to challenge people’s views in a constructive way?

Find out more about National Poetry Day at nationalpoetryday.co.uk and on Twitter at @PoetryDayUK.

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