by Jane Reichhold
for ages 11
Haiku are little and seem easy to write. Because they are so small, even tiny errors can seem huge. You, as the writer, have only seconds in which to impress the reader, so you want to make the experience as specific and pleasurable as possible.
One of the most important actions a reader takes is picturing the haiku images in his or her mind. When your eyes read “old pond,” you, as a reader, are expected to do more than think about seeing two little words on the page. You are being asked to think of some old pond you have known or seen. Maybe it was a pond in a zoo, or out on a farm, or a secret one in the woods. But to read a haiku successfully, you have to go to the trouble of finding the best “old pond” image that is stored in your memory bank.
This action is vital to haiku and is the actual making of the haiku.
For ages 1 - 4
Mandy poured sand into her bucket as a little bird flew past. She looked up and wondered what it would be like to fly. Her sister, Kayla, who was swinging nearby, smiled and slowed herself down. "Come on, Mandy," she said. "Do you want to go on the swing?"
Clutching her shovel, Mandy shook her head.
"There's nothing to be scared of," Kayla said. She hopped off and walked over to a small swing. "Look, this swing is made for little kids just like you."
Mandy looked at the swing. What if she fell? She shook her head again and buried her toes in the cool sand.
A little bird landed on the small swing and puffed out its chest. Mandy's eyes widened. She got to her feet. As she moved toward it, the bird stretched its neck, chirped and then fluttered away.
She watched the little bird as it soared to the sky.
"Do you want to try the swing now?" Kayla asked again.
Mandy looked at the swing and scrunched up her nose.
Kayla knelt beside her. "I won't push you too high. I promise."
Mandy clenched her fists and stared at the swing. In the trees above, the birds chirped her on. Mandy bit her bottom lip and nodded slowly.
"Great!" Kayla said. She picked Mandy up and seated her in the swing. "Are you ready?"
Mandy took a deep breath and nodded.
"Hold on tight," Kayla said.
Mandy leaned into the back of the swing seat, grabbed the ropes and closed her eyes. As the swing began to move back and forth, Mandy smiled.
"Do you want to go higher?" Kayla asked.
Mandy opened her eyes and nodded.
Back and forth she went, higher and higher, until she thought she could touch the sky.
A little bird flew by and Mandy laughed. Now she knew what it was like to fly, too!
Originally published in Stories For Children, August 2009.
Photo by carol_anne through Fotolia.com
For ages 3 - 6
Derrick knelt at the edge of the pond in his backyard. As he looked into the water, he could see dozens of tiny frogs swimming. Derrick stayed still until a frog swam close to him. Then he swooshed his net through the water.
"Gotcha!" Derrick shouted, grinning from ear to ear. He carefully placed the frog into a jar and hurried toward his house. He couldn’t wait to show his pet its new home.
When Derrick got to his room, he set the jar down and lifted the lid off the aquarium he and his daddy had set up earlier that day.
Derrick picked up the frog in his hand. It felt cold and slimy as it tried to wriggle away. Derrick lowered his cupped hands into the aquarium and set the frog free.
"I’m going to call you Iggy,” Derrick said to the frog. “I hope you like your new home."
Iggy jumped into the water and swam around. Then he climbed out and perched on a large leaf. For the longest time after that, Iggy didn’t move.
Derrick was certain that Iggy was just getting used to his new home. He’d be fine once he got all settled in.
A few days later, Derrick stood over the tank.
“What’s wrong, Iggy?” he asked. Iggy would not eat. All Iggy did was sit around and look sad. Derrick thought Iggy might be missing his friends, but Derrick knew that the tank wasn’t big enough for another frog.
Derrick plopped himself down on his bed and looked out his window. When Iggy was outside, he had a large pond to swim in, but now he was stuck in a tiny tank.
Derrick knew that if Iggy didn't start eating soon, he would get sick. There was only one thing he could do. Derrick scooped Iggy up, placed him in a jar and headed back to the pond.
As he knelt at the edge, a tear rolled down his cheek. He took a deep breath and slowly tipped the container. Iggy jumped into the water with a tiny plop and zoomed toward the middle of the pond.
“Goodbye, Iggy,” Derrick said. Even though he would miss Iggy, he knew that Iggy was happy to be home, and that made him smile.
Originally published in Our Little Friend, June 2006.
Photo by Vera Kuttelvaserova through Fotolia.com