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Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry Reprint Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0060955090
ISBN-10: 0060955090
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Perhaps the best book I have read portraying the joy and excitement young people experience when writing in a happy place where people care about their works...The ideas Koch uses are good. I've tried them with my writing classes, and they work."-- Herbert Kohl, "Saturday Review""I wish every grade school teacher would run out and read Kenneth Koch's "Wishes, Lies, and Dreams." If many of them took Koch's advice seriously we would have at the very least a poetry revolution, not to mention the possibility that a lot of kids would start having a good time in school." -- Allen Wiggins, "Cleveland Plain Dealer""There are enough ideas in the book, all laid out in good detail by Koch, and with great respect for his fellow artists, the students, to give other teachers a workable plan for teaching poetry...Koch has helped people discover joy in words, and that is what the love of poetry is all about." -- "Virginia Quarterly Review"

From the Back Cover

The classic, inspiring account of a poet's experience teaching schoolchildren to write poetry

When Kenneth Koch entered the Manhattan classrooms of P.S. 61, the children, excited by the opportunity to work with an instructor able to inspire their talent and energy, would clap and shout with pleasure. In this vivid account, Koch describes his inventive methods for teaching these children how to create poems and features numerous examples of their work. Now with a new foreword by Ron Padgett of the Teachers & Writers Collaborative, Wishes, Lies, and Dreams is a valuable text for all those who care about unleashing the creative imagination and educating the young.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (October 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060955090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060955090
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #548,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was first introduced to this marvelous book as a sophomore in an advanced placement English and History class in high school. An older graduate of the program had gone on to study poetry under Kenneth Koch at Columbia University, and returned to share what he had learned.
Now, with Bachelor's Degrees in both English and Elementary Education and a Master's in Language, Linguistics and Culture, I still consider WISHES, LIES, AND DREAMS to be the single best book on teaching writing that I have ever read.
Koch does not waste time with "assessment" of students' skills, collecting data, or any of the other peripheral matters that clutter most writing "methods" texts. This book is about WRITING, about inspiring students to write, about focusing the talents students already have but might not know that they possess.
I first used this book as a teacher when I was student teaching with a class of recalcitrant fifth graders who had been taught strictly by the text throughout their elementary school years. They almost unanimously declared that they hated writing. Employing Koch's ideas and combining them with the District-required skills lessons, I successfully taught these students what they needed to know - and they loved it!
After I began teaching in my own classroom, I used WLD with my students in bilingual third grade classes. Again, we were successful, even with second-language learners. Years later, when I began teaching second grade, and last year, when I worked with first graders, this book was an essential part of our writing program.
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Format: Paperback
This is one book I can't do without. I was introduced to Kenneth Koch's work when I was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison taking a workshop from an author who had taught with Koch. It has been my "writing Bible" ever since. I have used almost every exercise at one time or another with elementary school children, with fantastic results. Along with Koch's "Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?", this is a classic.
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Format: Paperback
Some 35+ years after its initial publication, this remains one of the finest books about writing poetry -- and not just for children, either! Kenneth Koch walks a delicate & difficult line here, trusting in the experiences & imaginations of children, yet also emphasizing (in an unforced but gently firm manner) the need for work & craft. Most of all, it demystifies poetry without stripping it of its wonder & magic, making it accessible to all who are willing to meet it halfway. There's never a note of condescension here, just a genuine love of poetry & the expectation that any aspiring poet will give his or her all in creating poems. Most highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
This book has some nice ideas for getting children thinking about poetry and some techniques for developing the writing process. Good for teachers who are worried about teaching poetry; it has a lot of examples of student poetry. The text could be improved with more recent student poems (many reference pop culture of the 70s) and more writing techniques from an up-to-date educational perspective.
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Format: Paperback
I've been pruning my bookcases - all ten of them. Today I came upon this book along with "Rose, where did you get that red?" As I held them in my hand, I was head-spun back to the late 1970's and my first teaching assignments. I did a stint at a middle school in Jersey City and then at a high school on an island in the South Pacific - worlds apart and yet similar in so many ways.

In college I never took an education course and I walked into each school with no prep of any kind. I was assigned to teach English, meaning writing and reading. Because the schools were private, I was given more freedom than any teacher could imagine in today's performance-assessed environment.

I'm not sure how I came across Koch's books but they quickly became pivotal to my teaching. I'm wasn't a poet back then and I'm still not now, so it wasn't so much the poetry of his books that impacted me as his approach to teaching which was grounded in the deepest kind of respect for his students' potential - as learners and as creators. His willingness to challenge through seemingly wild experimentation. His encouraging students to see, to notice, to feel, to care about their world.

Inspired by his books, I taught my students to write poetry. And they responded with the same generosity and enthusiasm as Koch's students. I still have those poems, now collected in a binder. They are the wishes, lies and dreams of young people from the inner city of Jersey to the outer villages of Truk. It's all magical.

Kenneth Koch is one of my heroes and his books are enduring classics, especially for teachers - no matter what they teach.
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Format: Paperback
I've used this over the years with all kinds of populations. I wish that he would revise it with more practical advice in the instruction part - particularly in how to present the exercises to different age groups.
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