Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Classroom Connections with Charles Ghigna


The Night the Forest Came to Town

Charles Ghigna, Author
Annie Wilkinson, Illustrator

Orca Book Publishers (Oct. 9, 2018)
ISBN: 978-1459816503

For ages 4-8

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From dusk to dawn a forest creeps into a town where the grown-ups are too distracted to notice. But the children do. They see greenery take root in the lifeless cracks of dull sidewalks. They see an eagle build her nest atop a forgotten fountain and saplings start to sprout in dark corners. A gray-drab city defined by concrete and steel, vibrations and notifications, transforms into a living garden where apartment buildings overflow with window boxes full of flowers, birds sing songs through day and night and children laugh and tend to their gardens. Watch as nature reclaims this town.


Click on image to enlarge.

Text copyright © 2018 by Charles Ghigna. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Annie Wilkinson.
From THE NIGHT THE FOREST CAME TO TOWN (Orca Book Publishers).

"It was silent in the city
when the cracks began to form
in the evening late one summer
when the concrete was still warm."

                © 2018 Charles Ghigna, all rights reserved.


Charles Ghigna - Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than one hundred books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults that have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket magazines. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, the American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America.


Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Poetry is magic! It often provides a child with their first introduction to the joy of language and to the enchanted world of books. Poetry's lilting rhythms and rhymes, its short, simple sentences and its clever repetition of key words and phrases start children's eyes, minds and hearts dancing along the rhythmical lines of language and into a lifelong love of poetry. It is the joyous power of poetry that turns listeners into readers and readers into writers.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

The theme of The Night the Forest Came to Town is noticing and appreciating nature. It encourages children to take time to go outside and look closing at the world around them.

Can you suggest a specific classroom exercise related to your book?

Please click this link for classroom exercises for Animal Trunk: Silly Poems to Read Aloud and Animal Tracks: Wild Poems to Read Aloud.

What is a simple, practical tip for teachers when it comes to incorporating poetry in the classroom?

Teachers can begin by simply inviting their students to keep a journal and "write something, anything" in it every night for two weeks before they go to bed. Just some simple, random thoughts of the day. Or they can write about their pets, hobbies, sports, places they've been, places they would like to go. Challenge them to write in their journal EVERY single night for two weeks. Then tell them to STOP! If they can. If they can't, they are a writer. And no one, no matter how hard they may try, will ever be able to stop them from following their writing dreams.

Can you recount a specific instance of when poetry impacted a student or group of students in a positive way?

During my school visits, I often tell students that EVERY one can write poetry! It's just a little package of words. Sometimes it contains rhymes. Sometimes it doesn't. It is a way of putting your thoughts and imagination on paper. I tell them, "If you can talk, you can write!" After saying that to a recent group of kindergarteners, one of them stood up proudly and said, "I can do that!"


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Look for two other books by Charles Ghigna published in 2018: Who Can? (Orca Book Publishers) and Alabama: My Home Sweet Home! (Whitman Publishing).

Many thanks to Charles for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month, and for offering a copy of The Night the Forest Came to Town to one randomly selected TLD reader!

To enter, leave a comment below or send an email with the subject "Forest Giveaway" to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com by Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Winners will be announced on Thursday, May 2nd, so be sure to check back to see if you've won!

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Check out the other Classroom Connections posts and giveaways on offer this month by clicking the names below!

Digital art © 2018 by Miranda Barnes,
based on a line from "Ghazal" by Tracy K. Smith.


The best way to keep up with the Classroom Connections series is by subscribing to Today's Little Ditty via email, which you can do in the sidebar. I will also be announcing the posts on social media. Like me on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter (also in the sidebar) to stay informed that way. Catch up with Classroom Connections posts you may have missed by clicking on the "It's time to INSPIRE" icon in the sidebar, or by visiting my "Poetry in the Classroom" board on Pinterest.


  1. Good Morning Michelle and Charles. Thank you for this rich interview. I want to live in a tree house in Alabama! My favorite line in this interview is, "EVERY one can write poetry! It's just a little package of words." So true and so possible. I'll carry that with me I am doing poetry with students in the library. Many congrats on your newest book. It looks beautiful. I can't wait to give it a read.

  2. I've read many of Charles' books and each one brings magic to the reader with his poetry. Love this, Charles: "It's just a little package of words." And I imagine kids will connect to that, too. Thanks for sharing part of this wonderful new book, Charles and Michelle!

  3. What a great interview. I am looking forward to exploring the books Charles has written. I spent a bit of time in Alabama as a child but it is a distant memory. I love the thought of writing poetry that starts children’s eyes, minds and hearts dancing. Thanks Michelle and Charles!

  4. Love this interview. Charles is such an incredible talent. I've seen several blog posts about this book, and I look forward to getting the chance to enjoy it in-person. Thanks for sharing, Heidi :)

  5. Great interview! How very prolific! I love the unique approach to the theme/topic! Just when you think it’s impossible to find a new entry point to a topic, along comes Charles!

  6. This is wonderful, Michelle. I have admired Charles's poetry for a long time. I find that his rhymes are never forced at all, they just flow and fit so perfectly. I have not read this book but want to having seen it reviewed at Poetry Friday before. How lovely there is a book giveaway but I will be sure to have a copy of my own. There is no downsizing my poetry collection. Janet Clare F.

  7. "Poetry is magic!" Yes! And I bet there are many kids out there who'll have caught the writing bug after 2 weeks… Terrific interview from you both–Looking forward to your new enchanting book Charles!

  8. Charles is such a gem. I have always loved his smooth connection of words - he always seems to live in what he writes. Wonderful interview

  9. Wonderful interview. I love that he made kindergartners feel like they could write poetry. That is amazing. Thanks for this post.

  10. I love your message--"Everyone can write poetry!"