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Raven Howell

Children's Books and Poetry


Similes and Metaphors

A simile is a direct comparison of two things using the words “like” or “as”. Here’s an example in my poem Book Adventures (published in The Children's Better Health Institute's Hopscotch for Girls Magazine). Take note of the simile: “girl” being compared to “me” through the word “like”.

illustration of simile
I read about the universe,
It took me to the moon.
I climbed the tallest mountain,
And came back all too soon!
I read a story of a girl,
A girl a lot like me.
I enjoyed a grand adventure
Sailing the great blue sea
I visit many places,
I laugh, I dream, I learn
In the enchantment of a book -
With each page that I turn

A metaphor compares and explains one thing as if it were another. In my acrostic poem from the book Gibber, the chicks are “the sweeping shimmer of sun”.

Could it be a
Hundred hatched, or am
I in this yellow
Corner of the bam up to my
Knees in a
Sweeping shimmer of sun?
baseball cartoon
"Not what Miss Ross had in mind when after the English quiz she told Billy to "Hit the books!"

Cartoons and poetry

I've had fun doodling/'cartooning' for a few kids' magazines. If anything funny or silly comes to mind - draw it and add a phrase. The image or phrase can give you an idea for a whole poem. I wrote my "Baseball Poem", which is published in my book A Star Full of Sky, after I completed this cartoon!

duck feet drawing

Words, music, and sound

Want to hear something really crazy? Words can make music and sound! Have you ever heard of the word onomatopoeia? I bet you're twisting your tongue just to try to pronounce it!  In poetry, onomatopoeia is the way we use words to describe or imitate certain sounds. It can be fun to play with!  This is my duck poem example:

duck feet
waddle, waddle,
plop, plop,
paddle, paddle 



Look for ideas everywhere! Pay attention to the world around you - little things, big things, people, animals, buildings, events, nature - anything you can see, hear, taste, smell, feel or observe. Be alert! You never now when a good idea will sneak up on you!


You may get an idea for a poem from an unusual looking leaf, or from a painting or picture you've seen, or from a word you like, or something you feel passionate about. Maybe you can find a new way of looking at an ordinary thing.  I've read the best poems about paper clips and toaster ovens! For instance, you can compare a stapler to little teeth that chomp down on paper.


Most of the time, if you focus on looking for an idea by being open to it, the idea will come to you.  Try not to strain to find something, but instead move toward the things that interest or fascinate you.  It's so important to write what you know about, especially when you're just beginning to write poetry.  It will help your words flow, and you will have lots to 'say'.

Many of my ideas come when I'm driving or riding in the car.  I also get lots of ideas while I walk my dog.  Pay attention to those times you feel inspired, and act on it.  You may be taking a shower when the subject of your poem decides to pop in your mind! 


For the pre-emergent and emergent reader, through the use of some of my poetry ideas here, skill building such as letter/sound recognition, phonemic and oral elements, spelling, reading and writing are being practiced.

Parents and grandparents, what to do on a rainy day? Read the following poem from my book "Spinning Circles: Action Poems" out loud to your child and have them 'trot like a horse', 'trudge like an elephant', chirp, and skip!

What Should We Do Today illustration

What Should We Do today?

  • Should we trot like horses?
  • Should we trudge like elephants?
  • Should we chirp like birds do?
  • Should we skip and jump on our own two feet?
Grasshopper Poem from Turtle Magazine

"Grasshopper" is one of my poems published in Turtle Magazine. Okay - now it's time to guess which bug is the grasshopper

Guess the Grasshopper illustration