Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Classroom Connections with Kip Wilson


White Rose

Kip Wilson, Author

Versify (April 2, 2019)
ISBN: 978-1328594433

For ages 12 and up

Purchase at Amazon.com
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Purchase via Indiebound.org


Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany.


Letter to Fritz, June 1940

Dear Fritz,

People shouldn’t be
about the world around
them simply because
everyone else
is ambivalent.

People who
to open their eyes
are more than ambivalent—
they are guilty.

How can we expect
in this world
if we’re not prepared to
sacrifice ourselves
for what’s right?

Copyright © 2019 by Kip Wilson, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


Kip Wilson is the Poetry Editor of the Young Adult Review Network and holds a Ph.D. in German Literature. In 2017, she won the PEN/New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award, and her work has appeared in several children’s literary magazines.


Why is bringing poetry into the classroom important?

Poetry is a form of writing and reading, but it’s also a form of art. It’s a great way to get kids to notice the world around them and to say more with less. Because poetry is generally less wordy, it’s also a great way to engage less enthusiastic readers. They’ll find they can make it through an entire novel in verse with much more ease than a comparable prose novel, giving them a sense of accomplishment. Also, with so many easily definable forms of poetry to try out, everyone can write something.

How might your book be incorporated into an educational curriculum?

Because White Rose is a historical novel based on true events as well as a novel in verse, it fits in well both to the ELA and Social Studies curricula. My publisher created a fantastic educator guide (available at http://www.kipwilsonwrites.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/WhiteRose.NotBeSilent.pdf), which can be used to teach White Rose alongside We Will Not Be Silent, an award-winning work of nonfiction about the group. Beyond all that though, the message of the White Rose to speak up for marginalized groups is an especially important one today for teens getting involved in social justice.

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

I loved Nikki Grimes’ book One Last Word, in which she uses lines from poems from the Harlem Renaissance to create new, timely poems using the Golden Shovel poetic form. In a Golden Shovel, each line in the new poem ends with a word from the original poem, so that, for instance, each of the words in Jean Toomer’s line, “Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,” from “Storm Ending” appear as the last words in each line of Nikki Grimes’ poem, “Truth.”

Students should use the first line from the above poem from White Rose to create a Golden Shovel poem of your own, so that each line ends with the following words:


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

I love “The Slowdown” podcast with Traci K. Smith. She delivers a bit of commentary along with a poem (each weekday by a different author) that forces me to take five minutes out of my day to slow down and listen and reflect. I love that it arrives in my inbox in the morning right as I’m getting ready for my day. The content of this particular podcast is aimed at adults, but the idea would transfer well into the classroom: once everyone’s settled at their desks to begin the day, give them a little commentary and then read them a poem.

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

I have been loving the reactions around the country to students reading The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. This award-winning novel in verse is revolutionary in so many ways. I’ve seen Elizabeth perform her poetry, so I can attest to the way her words energized the entire audience, but more than that, the way she was able to get her own experience on the page for girls like her to be able to see themselves is simply incredible. What a way to empower students! 


Website: http://www.kipwilsonwrites.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kiperoo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kipwilsonwrites

Please help me thank Kip for participating in our Classroom Connections series for National Poetry Month by leaving a comment below.

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

  • Eric Ode (Otters, Snails and Tadpole Tails: Poems from the Wetlands)

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. THANK YOU! Michelle and Kip, I have so much to say in reaction to this post. It can ALL be summarized in the word, Amen! I have seen novels in verse work with kids...they now ask for them (Thank you verse novelists). And, this topic is perfect. I just worked up a lesson for a Soc. St. teacher based on her frustration that a student asked, "why should I care?" about the holocaust. I sooooo wish I had this book in my hands right now as I'm teaching with library books on Thursday. But, I'm delighted to see that this book exists...AND that it's from VERSIFY...AND that it's out today. What a great post. Many congratulations to you both for the outstanding contributions you are making to our young people.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Linda! (And of course to Michelle for running this fab series!)

  2. I've read several other books about the White Rose group, but this one, Kip, feels as if it will touch teens in a different way and help them connect with their own causes today, help them know that they can make a difference in their world. Thanks, Michelle and Kip for this timely post!

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Michelle - and congratulations again, Kip! I'm so happy for you that your debut is getting such great press (and a great new imprint, too!)

  4. Nice cover! Thanks, Kip and Michelle, for this helpful interview. Golden Shovels and "Slowdown" are excellent suggestions!

  5. Congratulations, Kip, and thanks for the wonderful post and series, Michelle! When I was teaching (high school English), I would bring poetry into each unit I taught. Often, it gave students a fresh way of looking at a topic, concept, or other work of literature. Sometimes it gave that student who was apathetic, bored, or lost, an entry point. I think the succinct, visual nature of poetry can have a more potent and immediate effect. As a literacy coach, I have worked with teachers from all disciplines to integrate poetry into their instruction. (Yes, I'm a poetry pusher!) I will definitely add White Rose to my collection. Thanks again, Michelle and Kip!

  6. I'll have to hunt down a copy of White Rose. It looks quite wonderful. I find the Golden Shovel exercise a very challenging one, but if I were still in the classroom, I would love to try it. Thanks for the post.

  7. White Rose looks like a beautiful, powerful book. I just added it to top of my list of books to look out for.

  8. Thank you, Michelle and Kip, for introducing me to WHITE ROSE. Here's hoping I get lucky in the drawing. I just finished reading THE CANDY BOMBERS... so am primed for some more reading set in that era.