Poetry Analysis: Family Gathering by Nikki Grimes (Grades 3rd – 8th)


P.L.O.R.E. a reading strategy that teaches children to Predict what the passage is about, Locate new vocabulary words, names, dates, and facts, Organize thoughts and ideas, Read / Re-read the passage for better understanding, and Evaluate what the passage is about.

Setting:  the where” and “when” of the poem. Setting is an environment or surrounding in which an event or story takes place. 

Tone: the poet’s attitude toward a subject or an audience. Tone is generally conveyed by the words that the poet uses. The tone can be formal, informal, serious, comic, sarcastic, sad, or cheerful, or it may be any other existing attitude.

Image result for aneesa lee and the weaver's gift imageAneesa Lee and the Weaver’s Gift is a book of poetry about a girl, Aneesa, who is Japanese and black. The book opens with what author NIkki Grimes calls “Weaving Words.” Throughout the book, Grimes weaves poetry that adventures through Aneesa’s personal experiences including being teased about her family heritage.  

In Family Gathering we will use P.L.O.R.E. reading strategies (Predict, Locate, Organize, Read/Reread, and Evaluate) to determine setting and tone. 

Family Gathering

by Nikki Grimes

Beneath the forest canopy

Aneesa and her family

Enjoy a Sunday’s peaceful pleasure

Gathering blueberry treasure

Then all join in Aneesa’s search

For maple, alder, and white birch,

For marigold and goldenrod,

Raw dyestuff sprouting from the sod

All dandelions, roots, and nettles,

Berries and wildflower petals

Possess within at least a hint

Of Mother Nature’s rainbow tint.

Aneesa works her spade and dreams

Of dipping silk in saffron pools,

And elderberry lilac streams,

Of wringing green from privet leaves,

And all the while her cuffs and sleeves

Are staining green and purple.

Let’s explore with P.L.O.R.E.



P stands for PREDICT.  Read the title and predict what the text will be about. Jot down a few ideas. 

What does the title, Family Gathering, suggest?  


 Next, LOCATE and circle key words, names, and dates. Underline significant ideas and important passages.

How do the words, “peaceful,” and “pleasure” set the tone?



ORGANIZE  your thoughts. Use the space space in the margins to jot down thoughts and ideas that you develop as you read.

As you read, consider words that you do not know the meanings of. Write them in your vocabulary journal. For example, what do the following words mean?

  • canopy
  • alder
  • saffron
  • privet


What are some other key thoughts that help you understand this poem? Jot down a few ideas that will help you Evaluate this poem. Remember, you must be able to prove your Evaluation with evidence from the text. This is know as “text evidence,” or “proof.”

20150525_194316RE-READ the poem. Summarize your second reading. Now that you have defined vocabulary words and considered setting and tone, is your understanding more clear?




 Carefully EVALUATE the poem.

  • Number the lines.
  • Answer the following:
    • What makes this a poem?
    • What is this poem about?
    • What is the poet’s message?
    • What tools did the poet use to help show his/her meaning?
  • Highlight Line 1. How does this line describe the setting of this poem?
  • Highlight Line 2. Which words or words set the tone of this poem? Why?
  • Go back an look at the ideas you wrote down in the section called “Organize.” Use those ideas plus the other P.L.O.R.E. strategies to write your evaluation. 

Image result for NIKKI GRIMES imagesABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nikki Grimes was born in Harlem in 1950. She began writing when she was six, and was a voracious reader throughout her childhood; she gave her first public poetry reading at a local library there when she was 13.



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