Emily by Michael Bedard for the Poetry of Science Unit

An Introduction to Emily Dickinson Before the Virtual Field Trip to Her Garden 

To start the poetry and science unit, after we have created our commonplace books, we talked about the poet Emily Dickinson, beginning by reading the children's book "Emily" by Michael Bedard, illustrated by the famous Barbara Cooney. 

Realistic Fiction, Author Imagination, and Emily Dickinson's Biography

I stop at certain parts of the story to check for comprehension. This is a fictional story and I want to make sure the students understand that this is realistic fiction, not biography. I also talk a little about Emily Dickinson's biography; that she didn't really like to leave the house, that she didn't publish her poems while she was alive, that she loved to garden, and, especially, that she has since become one of America's most famous poets of all time because her work was so different from what everyone else wrote at the time. I weave these pieces of information into natural pauses while reading the story aloud to the class.

Emily Dickinson Books

I also brought in a collection of Emily Dickinson books for them to look through, including any small selected works (some of them are very pretty books), the collected works, letters, collections geared toward children--whatever I had in my personal library and whatever the school and local library might have as well. 

Why Start with "Emily" by Michael Bedard

This book is a good one to start the poetry and science unit because it introduces an important poet to children, in illustrations that many are familiar with style-wise thanks to Barbara Cooney. And it fits perfectly with the concept of poetry influenced by science because it emphasizes how Emily Dickinson's horticultural expertise inspired her writing.