This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness

What would you write if you could apologize 

for anything you've ever done wrong?  

In this book, the students in Mrs. Merz's 6th grade class decide to find out. They write apology poems about dodgeball accidents, broken windows, crushes, and lost pets. Then they boldly ask for responses to their poems. Join these characters as they find out what it truly takes to apologize--and to forgive.  

This book has been adapted into a stage play for schools. It also makes an excellent Reader's Theater script. 

How this book began . . .

I teaching writing residencies in local schools and I often use W.C. Williams' poem "This Is Just to Say" as a model. One year, I showed a group of 4th graders a poem I wrote to my mother, apologizing for breaking a glass deer (yes, it was me). One boy looked me in the eye. "Well," he said, "are you going to send it to her?” After a little hemming and hawing, I did, and she wrote me back a lovely letter confessing how she'd felt all those years ago. That made me think a lot about apology and forgiveness. What if all those sorry poems were actually sent to the people they were written to? And what if those people wrote back? One day, as I sat down to write, a group of students stepped forth from my imagination to utter their apologies, one by one.


Joyce reads a poem

Reader's GuidePlay Adaptation 

Writing Advice from the gang in Mrs. Merz's Class

Awards and Honors

Claudia Lewis Poetry Award

Cybils Poetry Award

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book

School Library Journal 

Best Book of the Year

IRA Teacher's Choice Book

New York Public Library's "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing"

Book Links Lasting Connection Book


*School Library Journal (starred review)

"Sidman’s ear is keen, capturing many voices. Her skill as a poet accessible to young people is unmatched . . . This is an important book both for its creativity and for its wisdom." 


Book Page

"The concept for Sidman's book is original and entertaining, using a fictional classroom to bring a group of poems and their elementary school authors to life . . . a fabulous book to show students the many forms that poetry can take and to inspire them to write their own 'sorry' poems."



" . . . this series of poems was inspired by William  Carlos Williams's famous poem of the same title regarding a theft of plums. . . . Packed with the intensity of everyday pain and sorrow, kids and adults exchange the words that convey grief, delight, love and acceptance of themselves and others."


Publisher's Weekly

"This often humorous and touching anthology . . . successfully navigate[s] the complicated terrain for those who seek forgiveness."


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