The House We Sheltered In

This is the house we sheltered in.

These are the hands, nimble and strong,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

This is the soap that washed the hands,
Again and again, and again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are the video chats that pulled
Far off friends into the room,
After the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are the stories, read and told,
After the video chats that pulled
Far off friends into the room,
After the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are the beds, so toasty warm,
After the stories, read and told,
After the video chats that pulled
Far off friends into the room,
After the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

These are adventures free of harm,
Dreamed by sleepers, toasty warm,
After the stories, read and told,
After the video chats that pulled
Far off friends into the room,
After the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans
Of the house we sheltered in.

This is yet another dawn,
After adventures free of harm,
Dreamed by sleepers, toasty warm,
After the stories, read and told,
After the video chats that pulled
Far off friends into the room,
After the games we played for fun,
After the meals we shared as one,
Passing food with grateful hands,
Washed with soap again and again,
That cleaned the knobs and panes and pans

Of all the homes we sheltered in.

I’ve written a sheltering-in-place poem, based on a classic English rhyme, that I’m making available as a freely downloadable and printable mini-picture book.

Update: I’ve created a video version of the poem! Click here to view it.

Please spread the word to any parents who might want to print out the picture book for their kids or any teachers who might want to share it with their classes.

There are two versions of the book, one color and one black&white, and you can preview them here:

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Follow me for news about this and future writing projects.

There are two ways to read each version of the book: by printing it out and assembling it into a booklet, or by reading it page by page on your computer.

If you want to print it out into a booklet, you can download the color PDF here and the black&white PDF here. (Warning: the pages of these versions will seem scrambled. That’s because they’re meant to be printed out and folded into a booklet. Read further for a version with the pages in normal order.)

Once you download them, print them out double-sided, landscape mode, and then just fold the resulting five sheets of output in half to form the booklet.

If your printer can’t print double-sided, you can print all the odd numbered pages first, then reinsert the printed pages into your printer and print out the even numbered pages on the other side of the sheets. Just make sure you know ahead of time which way to reinsert the printed pages into your printer to print on their back sides.

If you prefer to read the story on your computer, here are PDF versions of the book with the pages in order: in color and black & white. (Hint: the best way to read them is with a PDF reader that supports a “two page view” and the option to view the first page as a single page. Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader is one such app.)

Finally, here’s a small (regular paper sized) poster of the entire poem on one page.

I’ve licensed the books and the poster with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license (BY-NC-SA) which means you’re free to reproduce them and even modify them, as long as it’s not for commercial purposes and you credit me as the creator of the original work, and if you create new work based on mine, you have to share it under the same license.

If you’re looking for other activities for your kids or students, please check out this poetry exercise for middle school kids or older. I’d love to see it tested out. Please let me know how it goes for you if you try it.

Let’s not just endure these days of sheltering in place; let’s celebrate them and find, in our changed circumstances, opportunities for unplanned good.