This is the 1993 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Bryan, Ashley. 1992. Sing to the Sun. New York: HarperCollins.
You'll find a Digital Trailer for SING TO THE SUN created by graduate student Alison Bednarczyk at YouTube and here.
Here is a Readers Guide for SING TO THE SUN created by graduate student Katie Lyons.
Bryan, Ashley. 1992. Sing to the sun: Poems and pictures. Ill. Ashley Bryan. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 10- 0064434370
Recommended Age Level
In Ashley Bryan’s first collection of original poems and art, he beautifully celebrates all aspects of life; from saying goodbye to picking fruit to bake in dough. The poems change in style throughout the collection from free verse to varying rhyme schemes. Perfect for reading aloud (with some practice), these jubilant, endearing poems and bright, colorful watercolor on paper illustrations will delight all who experience them.
"Children are sure to enjoy its rhythmic verse. A splendid work with wide appeal." -- -- School Library Journal
"The words are simple but they dance." -- Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
-Notable Children’s Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies (NCSS/CBC)
-Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
Questions to Ask Before Reading Aloud
-What is a poem?
-Do poems have to rhyme? (if students believe that poems must rhyme, ask this question again after reading one of Bryan’s free verse poems and discuss that there are many different types of poetry, some of which do not rhyme.)
-What do you think it means to sing to the sun? (Show students the cover of the book and read the title)
-Explain the author is African-American and some of his poems express his culture while others express experiences almost everyone can relate to.
Suggestions for Reading Aloud
-“The Blackbird’s Party” - Have children read the italicized couplets as a class as you read the quatrains, or divide children into groups and have one group read the couplets while the other reads the quatrains; try the same technique with “Granny”
-“The Hurricane” – Read this poem with lots of expression, reading The Wind’s lines with lots of breathy air, making motions with your arms and body like the wind; invite students to read and move along with you. Have students break into two groups, one group reading the boy’s dialogue, one group reading The Wind’s dialogue.
- “Taste the Air” – Have students act out the words as you read them aloud or as the whole class reads aloud together.
-“Ancestry” – Play an excerpt from the song “Wade in the Water” before reading and after reading.
Follow Up Activities
Invite students to paint with watercolors; encourage them to try to make the colors they use deep and rich. Students may illustrate their own poems using watercolors.
Invite students to write their own poems that use expressive language, words that express action and emotion. Remind students that their poems do not need to rhyme.
Use this text during a study of Africa. Research some of the ideas from Bryan’s poems such as, African fruits, dress, stories, and poetry.
Bryan includes many poems about flowers in this collection. Invite students to study and research different flowers from Africa and/or the flowers he includes in his poems.
Related Web Sites/Blogs
Ashley Bryan does not have his own website, however the publisher of the book provides some details about collection and the author.
This website provides an interview with Ashley Bryan.
This site provides African poems by different authors set to music.
This site provides a kid-friendly introduction to a number of poetry styles, a template for writing a poem online, a collection of poems to read, and a poetry club all within an ARTHUR by Marc Brown theme.
Bryan, Ashley. 2003. BEAUTIFUL BLACKBIRD. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 10-0689847319
This Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner tells the story of the beautiful blackbird, envied by all the colorful birds of Africa. While the beautiful blackbird speaks of finding the beauty within, the other birds insist on being painted with a touch of black paint each, which they still wear to this day.
Bryan, Ashley. 1997. ASHLEY BRYAN’S ABC OF AFRICAN POETRY. New York, NY: Aladdin Paperbacks. ISBN 10-0689840454
Bryan gathered a collection of excerpts from poems, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, by celebrated African American poets including, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. Bryan’s earned a Coretta Scott King Honor for his beautiful tempera and gouache paint illustrations that go along with the poem excerpts he chose to include.
Bryan, Ashley. 2007. LET IT SHINE: THREE FAVORITE SPIRITUALS. New York, NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN 10-0689847327
Bryan provides words and music to three well-known spirituals, “This Little Light of Mine,” Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” are paired with construction paper collage scenes.