Responding through a language prism

Poetry is a diverse language.

Harry Laing’s extensive collection of fun poems for kids in our latest book ‘RapperBee’ (published by Ford Street Publishing) was a delightful project to illustrate.

I was initially drawn to Harry’s exciting use of visual language, which provided such a rich platform for playful and creative illustrating.

But this project inspired so much more!

Harry combines traditional forms of poetry such as ballad, limerick, sound, rhythm, rhyme, performance, shape poems and visual imagery, with contemporary genres including rap, song and dance. He invites the reader into a creative space where they can explore their own responses.

I loved tinkering with the humorous rant of Chicken Rapper which uses predictive text, suspense and drama.

How might a child finish the final paragraph of this poem?

What could it look like?

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The spirited use of sounds and images with ‘A True Story In The Sound Of OO”…highlights the important role that words and images play in expressing meaning for young readers.

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Above all, I love the cheeky exploration of syntax that is present throughout the book.
Harry gives kids permission to meddle, pluck and toss the rules about and just enjoy the playful nature that comes with words, humour and imagination for young people. He role models the suspension of  judgement and the crippling right and wrong of creative processes which opens pathways for experimentation and fun.

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                                                                                          ‘Song of a Thumb’

As an artist, I would never be able to express the depth of my creative ideas through one language form.

This project has highlighted for me the need to embrace multimodal interactions by sharing and combining language forms across disciplines, in order to reach all our learners.

If we want to develop creative thinking in our young learners, we need to provide safe and open spaces for responding and sharing their ideas. We need to encourage appreciation, value and equality of all language forms and provide environments for every child to feel supported to express themselves through a variety of language forms.

By scaffolding opportunities for our kids to play, experiment and respond through languages that resonate with their abilities, strengths and interests, we open creative expression and develop their skills to respond confidently.

Brainstorming without borders is a vital skill for playing with sensory input and helps us to find connections and engage in the world around us. Helping our young people to feel, taste, smell, listen, see and respond to the intense stimuli of recent times is vital for their balanced personal growth and sense of security. Editing their personal expression and responses before they have a chance to see, identify and fully understand the world, mutes their potential and ability to find their voice.

Unlocking expression through a prism of language takes time.

Everyone has the potential to make connections and respond through language, but the form in which they express themselves will vary and the combination and form in which language is used is constantly changing.  But learning to express themselves may bring our young learners surprise, hope and great joy!

As educators we are challenged to recognize the fluidity and changes that culture and context bring to the way we communicate and express ourselves. We are constantly reviewing and revising our perception of language and its many forms. Like our communities, language is not one dimensional. Our communities are enriched and grow when we bring tolerance, acceptance and understanding to all forms of languages without bias.

Let’s give our children the freedom to play and explore with all their languages…

As we attempt to make sense of this emerging new world we find ourselves in, let’s listen to our children and encourage their voices to rise and shine on a brand new day.

They are our greatest resources and it’s time for them to grow and feel nurtured.

Buzz over to Ford Street Publishing to order a copy!

‘RapperBee’ written by Harry Laing,
Illustrated by Anne Ryan.
Published by Ford Street Publishing