One of the last demonstration lessons I wrote before we left school in mid-March was a cross-text synthesizing lesson with this lovely poetry book, Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham & Charles Waters.
While I can’t find my hard copy in the sea of books I have brought home with me, I bought a Kindle copy of this book and I recommend that you might as well. Told in two voices, two students are assigned writing partners. As you might guess from the cover, initially these writing partners do not have much in common. Assigned to write poems together, Charles asks Irene… What do you want to write about? He continues, Shoes, hair? Then we can write about school and church. Irene takes a deep breath, Okay. They start there.
They begin with these two poems about shoe shopping and I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite character development picture books, Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.
The next pair of poems is about hair. Irene recalls a time with she cut her hair super short and fluffed it with a pick. She loves it until her brother says she looks like a circus clown. Charles recalls a different experience where as the title suggests, someone touches his hair without permission.
These two poems remind me of Hair Love, a wonderful book and video about wanting your hair to be just so.
As the poems keep coming, readers see how deep feelings inside Irene and Charles are similar, and the young poets begin to understand each others’ points of view.
A beautiful book describing inner feelings, this book might be best for upper elementary and middle school readers. Pair it with the suggested text so that students can compare characters that “go together” across Can I Touch Your Hair? or to picture book partners such as Those Shoes or Hair Love. Many flipped lessons could be developed with these text and tools.