Heart Beats! News from the Heart January 2023

Happy New Year!

I’ve always loved the origin of the word January which comes from Roman mythology and the two-headed god Janus — a god of beginnings and endings. One of Janus’ heads looks forward toward the future and the other backward to the past – as well as inside and outside simultaneously. January and especially New Year’s Day is when we often take stock of our lives. We sift through the happy memories of the past year (my son graduating from college, taking a walking trip in the West of Ireland, receiving the 2023 NCTE Award for excellence in Poetry for Children, among others) and the challenging ones (my husband and son getting Covid for the second time, social and political worries, among others) and look forward with wisdom, hope and new beginnings.

What better time to look back and inside in order to walk forward with insight. This month’s Heart Maps in the Tool Kit for Teachers align with Janus – and January.

One January Heart Map is a Mindfulness Heart Map – designed as a heart cloud and a nod to my book My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness and the title poem “My Thoughts Are Clouds.” A Mindfulness Heart Map is a reminder to stay present, seek out the tools that help us feel calm and peaceful, and to be mindful that thoughts and feelings often shift and drift like clouds in the sky. A Mindfulness Heart Map can be part of your daily or weekly SEL curriculum.

The second January Heart Map is Reflecting On Myself As a Learner Heart Map. Reflection is a vital part of student learning. Now that the school year is at its midway point, we invite students to reflect on their experiences as learners so that they can look forward to the rest of the school year with a new understanding and a growth mindset.

Here is a poem I wrote about walking forward and keeping an open heart:

Your Heart Is Like a Flower by Georgia Heard

A flower doesn’t need

to count how many raindrops it sips,

add up the number of bees tickling its petals,

tally the blooms that curl up and fade away.

Just as it is with you –

your heart doesn’t need to keep track

of all its loves and losses;

it just needs to keep opening

                                                and opening

                                                                        and opening.

(from My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness by Georgia Heard)

Thank you, friends! You made my year special and I wish you the happiest New Year!



In November, I was the recipient of the 2023 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children one of the most esteemed awards a children’s poet can receive! I’m grateful and honored to stand on the shoulders of some truly great children’s poets such as Janet Wong, Nikki Grimes and Joyce Sidman, among many others who received this award in the past.

Heart Maps® Toolkit for Teachers  Check out December and January’s downloadable Heart Maps, videos, writing prompts and mentor texts.


Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants edited by Roge Girard:    Poems composed by students as they reflect on immigrating to Canada and leaving family, friends, and countries of origins to make new homes. The editor writes: “This book is a collective embrace among people who have touched my forehead, my eyes, my cheek, my shoulder, my elbow, my belly … and, above all, the heart of the ten-year-old girl I used to be, sitting at a desk in a new country that I would make my own.”

House Finds a Home by Katy Duffield:    Told from a house’s point of view the story centers around a house with a heart and its hopeful search for a family to turn it into a true loving home.

The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich:   A poem’s gentle encouragement to take risks, open yourselves up to the world and live your life with heart.

Watch this extraordinary heart video 17 Things I Made by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal and ask your students what have they made?

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