Little Jefferson is a project highlighting poetry and stories from children and teens ages 9-13. 

We invite you to enjoy the variety of voices and works selected.

The four poems “How to Screw Up Your Shoes, “How to Screw Up a Relationship With Your Grandma”, “Tickles”, and “The Night” were provided by The Chicago Poetry Center.


By Oliver B.

In my world trees grow out of people’s
heads. Inside me I feel the roots tickle me.
They would grow and grow and I couldn’t
stop laughing.

In my world cats wouldn’t have claws.
So they couldn’t climb trees on my head.
And their paws would tickle you so much
you couldn’t stop laughing.

In my world you laugh forever until….
you die.

Illustration by Sofia Brognara, Former Literary Illustrator Intern

How to Screw Up a Relationship With Your Grandma

By Kassie C.

I’m sorry grandma.
You are gone forever now.
I regret it all.

The tears are coming.
Didn’t get to say goodbye.
Everyone else did.

You took care of me.
You loved me when I could not.
You comforted me.

I can’t fix it now.
I wish I could take it back.
I miss you so much.

How to Screw Up Your Shoes

By Azucena R.

Step in the mud.
Brand new white shoes are ruined now.
Untied shoelaces.

Fall right on your face.
Walk to school in the rain.
Have moist feet and shoes.

Its times for recess.
Have 5 kids step on your shoes.
After School has come.

Trip on something sharp.
Great, you have ripped your new shoes.
Mission accomplished.

The Night

By David R.

A sliver of light creeping under my door
A cool breeze cascading over my head
soft covers covering by body
The “L” passing by my house
A wave of drowsiness threatening to pull me under

The clacking of keys from my stressed mom
The softness of my pillow
A golden light trickling through the window
The lulling swoosh of cars
A swift close of my eyelids

Students working with The Chicago Poetry Center at Taft Freshman Academy generated beautiful poems via e-learning. “The Night” is inspired by “Quiet Night Thoughts” by Li Po.

Bobo and the Magic Cloak

By Reeham Ahmed

Reeham Ahmed is a writer based in Gurugram, India. She is ten and wonders if her heart is ten years old too.

Once upon a time, there was a little penguin named Bobo who lived inside a library. Bobo’s house was a little cupboard between the Magic shelf and the Space shelf. Bobo spent Mondays and Wednesdays reading Magic books, and Tuesdays and Thursdays reading Space books. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays were spent having fun.

Bobo’s only wish was to go to outer space. But the books told her that she needs to learn Science and Mathematics. Bobo did not like those subjects. She knew that it would take her a long time to learn everything. She was very sad. She was also very impatient. So, she started reading Magic books on all days, even on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally, on a dark Saturday night, she read about a cloak that could take her anywhere she wished.

Illustration by Sofia Brognara, Former Literary Illustrator Intern

“Oh,” she thought, “the cloak can take me to space. I do not have to study.” So, she started looking for the cloak everywhere. She looked under the desks, behind the shelves, under the racks, even in the bathrooms. She could not find the cloak anywhere. Exhausted, she opened her cupboard to sleep. And surprise! She found the cloak inside! She put it on in a jiffy, and made a wish.” Cloak, take me to outer space!”

And guess what, she started to float, up in the air. Then out of the window she went! Higher, and higher, faster and faster! When she touched the clouds, she realised that it was getting very cold! And she could not breathe. She started getting dizzy but the cloak did not stop. It flew higher and higher. When she reached space, it was so cold! She tried to tell the cloak to turn back, but she could not speak and the cloak could not read her mind. So, higher and higher it went, taking her along.

When Bobo reached the Moon, she fainted. And the cloak stopped. It did not go further, and it did not turn back. Instead, it started going in circles around the Moon. And Bobo slept for two thousand years, trapped in the cloak. All because she wanted to go to space! When she woke up, she found herself holding a space book, inside her cupboard! It was all a bad dream! “I have learned my lesson now,” thought Bobo. She learned not to be impatient, and never to trust magic!

Now, she reads all subjects, even on Sundays. 

One night In New Orleans

By Sean Lin

Quiet night,
fresh air and lights
stand in the white planation.
Drops of rains
Lie on the green leaves of the plants.
Far away
Southern insects remain
Up close,
French fountains dance
in the lake.
your history
Wax and wane,
So much mystery.
a boy from Texas plain
board an old train
to collect flowers of stories
and cotton strain.

Sean Lin is a 13 year old student attending Beck Junior High School. Sean came to the United States at age 9. He experienced Harvey and displacement in 2017 and in 2018 went to New Orleans and experienced impressions of post-Katrina.

Sean first wrote this poem in Chinese then later in English.

A Million Dreams

By Katie

I’m lying
in bed at night
I can’t sleep
because a million
dreams are
keeping me awake?
so you see
I’m lying
in bed with
the brightest
colours in my


Katie is from Korea and America. She lives in Qatar and is eight years old. Katie writes poetry because it’s fun and helps her practice her writing.  

How a poet wishes good day

By Anusha Anindita

Dark room, table lamp
The fan turned on, the weather very damp

Want to write but what should I
When the wet ideas don’t ignite

No deadlines is the probable cause
Of why my brain doesn’t rack enough

Lazy me with a runny nose
And how can you forget the frequent cough

Am typing crazy like I always do
Cause lazy me has nothing to say to you

The rhythm I can’t catch
Useless grammar, and silly words match

Hello! This is typical me
Before every great poem you love to read

Am confused all the time
My poems ain’t worth a dime

WOW and Gosh and OH MY GOD
I just realized I wrote this lot!

Proud of myself, I must say
Hope you have a happy day

Anusha Anindita is a 13 year old who, like every other teenager, overthinks everything. Though it is crazy at times, it always helps her find new things to write about.

My Perfect World

By Isabella

In this perfect world, worry is not a word.
We can explore the lands and fly like birds.
Anywhere you go will be beautiful and new,
and you won’t have to act mature.

In this perfect world everything you want to be is not limited to the knowledgeable.
You couldn’t be a fireman because nothing would be flammable.
If you dreamed of being famous go ahead, nothing is impossible.

In this perfect world all is beautiful.
Things you normally wouldn’t like seem wonderful.
Everything around you would be so pretty that you would be totally peaceful…

            In my perfect world.

Isabella is heading into the 7th grade and has a new-found interest in writing. She is a true enthusiast for sci-fi books and loves to dance (when no one is looking).

My Eighth Grade Year Cut Short

By A. Bukkapatnam

I’ve reached the end of the internet
Who knew it was possible
I’m done with Insta and Snap and Reddit
And of course exhausted Google

I’ve reached the end of Netflix
Let me tell you all is done
When you’ve reached the end of Netflix
And quarantine has just begun

I’ve reached the last of food
In the black hole my stomach is
Hot Cheetos and Funyuns don’t taste too good
And neither does soda fizz

It seems I’ve tired all the books
And learning there is to be learned
I can recite the alphabet from Z to A
And knowledge that has been spurned

I’m bored of texting my friends
And FaceTiming everyone till no ends
Cause although I’m using Zoom
It’s a fact that nothing beats sharing a room

Six feet from you
And 3 hundred thousand people
The town’s been set anew
We’re banned from visiting a
Costco or a steeple
Have you ever seen this view?

I was looking forward; hoping and hoping
For graduation and Hershey and all of the sort
Instead I’m trapped here moping and moping
At my eighth grade year cut short

Anika is a 13 year old from New Jersey. When she’s not writing, she is an activist for Menstrual Equity. She self published an anthology in 2019, however wants more people to be able to see her work. She has very abstract perspectives and believes that you will find her poetry enthralling.

Gharial: A Riddle Poem

By Marlowe

I have nobs on my narrow snout

I have over one hundred teeth

I am the world’s largest reptile

I am the closest living relative to the dinosaurs

I like to eat fish, small mammals, and frogs

I like to swim, crawl, and run

I live in deep rivers and sandbanks in India

I live my life through the night, sleeping during the day

I can mate underwater

I can puff out my neck

I am hunted for my skin and meat

I am turned into shoes, wallets, and souvenirs

There’s only 200 left of me in the wild…

(I wish there were more)

(I miss my friends and family)

Who am I?


By Marium Zahra

A faraway palace,
On a beautiful island
Placed right at the edge, like a paradise
Constructed with diamonds, silver, and gold
The gardens filled with roses, full of flowers as well
The food so gorgeously placed
And it tastes wonderfully too
This is the life I live
A lovely place,
As you know
But in my dream, I call this home

A cozy little place
At the edge of my street
Made with sand, bricks and a little bit of concrete
The grass filled with weeds and one huge tree
My sisters sit at the table arguing with me
The Mcdonalds has come
And it tastes wonderfully
This is the life I live A lovely little place
I call it home.

Whether it’s a dream or real life
Home is a comforting place
A place I want to be

Marium Zahra is 12 years old and lives in El Paso, Texas. She enjoys writing about issues and has written poetry about social problems like racial inequality and gentrification. This poem was written about something she loves dearly, her home. Because like everything else she writes, she talks about what she’s passionate about.

Looking Back at The Stone

By Bharath Satheesan

He fell,

Got himself hurt,

Looked back at the stone,

That reduced him to tears.

Nobody heard him call,

Some pretended not to,

Looked back at the stone,

Crying so much, he was.

The stone, looked like, as if it said,

“I gave this fate for you to learn.”

Looked back at the stone,

Understood what that means.

Bruises, the first thing anybody
Would notice, not his face,
Looked back at the stone,
Looking miserable and hopeless.

The stone, looked like, as if it said,

“Learn to rise, boy, learn to rise.”

Looked back at the stone,

Determined, wiping his tears.

Slowly, he got on his feet,

Despite the intense pain,

Looked back at the stone,

Crying the tears of joy.

Not without reason, he did it,

People’s applause, he forgot the pain,

Looked back at the stone,

Not only him, everybody did.

He grew, wise and old,
With memory to behold,
Looked at the stone,
He looked at the stone….

Bharath Satheesan studies in Bhavan’s Adarsha Vidyalaya and enjoys writing poems and learning science.

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