Some picture books provide just the right inspiration and framework for poetry writing in the classroom. I Am the Storm by Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, is one of those books. The text and vivid illustrations by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell beautifully and succinctly describe four types of powerful storms: tornados, blizzards, wildfires, and hurricanes. But the storms are just one layer. Woven in are images of families staying safe together, followed by the storm’s aftermath, the clean-up, and the communities pulling together.
I am the Storm addresses the ferocity and strength of nature, and the fear we all may experience in those extreme events. Yolen and Stemple write, “Nature is strong and powerful. But, I am strong and powerful, too.” It was these words that led to the idea for poems. My students and I considered how often we have storms inside us that make us loud, wild, hot, and fierce, and we discussed what we do in those situations.
Using Yolen and Stemple’s sentences—”I am loud like the tornado. I am wild like the blizzard. I am hot like the fire. I am fierce like the hurricane.”—students drafted their own “I am the Storm” poems.
Here are three of my third-grader’s poems that captured my attention (shared with permission from their parents):
I am loud like a tornado When I scream from excitement. I am hot like a fire When I am finished with a marathon. I am fierce like a hurricane When I stand up against bullies. I am wild like a blizzard When I am creative. I am the storm. When I sing I create new songs. I sing wild like a blizzard. I blow things away like a hurricane. I am the storm. I am a tornado When I rage, I am impossible to stop Like a flash of lightning. I am as wild as a tornado. When I am happy it is like thunder hitting me. I will never stop like a wild storm. I AM THE STORM!