Recommended: ‘Please Mrs. Butler’, a collection of poems about school by Allan Ahlberg

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One book I wouldn’t be without is ‘Please Mrs. Butler’,

a collection of poems on the theme of school by Allan Ahlberg.

Children readily identify with the poems in this book

and each year, ‘Please Mrs. Butler’ quickly becomes

a class favourite.


When I reach for it to pick it up and read from it,

the class immediately look expectant and interested.

Often too, classes will ask me to read from it.

‘Please Mrs. Butler’ has contributed to

some of the best times I have ever spent in class.


As well as the title poem ‘Please Mrs. Butler’,

other favourites include:

* As I was coming to school Teacher

* Excuses

* When I was young

* Scissors

* Supply Teacher

* and Complaint.


Children enjoy the written work

that follows on from these poems.

Click here to see a class poem inspired

by Allan Ahlberg’s poem ‘Excuses’.


Scroll down this link from and you will see

an abundance of videos which feature

Allan Alhberg reading and explaining his poetry.

The introduction he gives really add to

our understanding and enjoyment of his poems.

This videos are on Vimeo, which unlike YouTube

is not blocked in Irish schools

‘Self Esteem: A Classroom Affair, 101* Ways to Help Children Like Themselves’ by Michele&Craig Borba

During two months of the summer

my students are on holidays,

so I am without

my many talented writers and artists

and their contributions to this blog

until September.

For this reason I have to

think of other kinds of posts.

On other blogs I have seen

teachers writing about books

that they have found useful in school.

This is a book that has influenced

my teaching:


This is my well worn copy!


I bought ‘Self Esteem: A Classroom Affair,

101* Ways to Help Children Like Themselves’

by Michele and Craig Borba

in 1980, as a student teacher.

It was an unusual book for its time 

full of ideas for developing

a child’s self esteem.

At the time, it seems to me school

was much more about developing

a child academically;

their cognitive rather than

their ‘affective’ learning.


It was to be 1983 for example

before Howard Gardner published 

his theory of ‘multiple intelligences’. 

(Gardner, Howard (1983), 

Frames of Mind:

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences,

Basic Books, NY)


Gardner proposed that people do not

have just a intellectual ability, but have

many different intelligences

including intrapersonal

which would exist within the mind

and thus relate to the ‘affective’, 

to moods, feelings, and attitudes.


I feel this book

‘Self Esteem: A Classroom Affair’

was before its time, with contents like:

‘Teach Children to Praise Themselves’ and

‘Helping Children to See Their Progress.


I have used many

of the activities in this book

repeatedly over the course

of my teaching career.

Just in case I ever ran out of ideas

there was always Volume 2:


It was in this book that I first learnt about

‘bibliotherapy’ i.e. the judicious use of books

as therapy for children.


In this modern age Dr. Michele Borba

is still dispensing ‘words of wisdom’.

You can read more of these here.