New and Favorite Poetry Books for Children

It’s April. Happy Poetry Month! It’s time to get kids interested in reading and writing poetry with poetry books.

Kids gravitate towards funny, rhyming poetry which is a place to get them hooked. But, I don’t like using rhyming poetry with kids too much or their writing becomes only rhyming. (Which usually stinks and makes no sense.)

poetry books for kids
Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstein

The best way to get your kids engaged in poetry is reading lots of poetry from different poets and about different subjects. Read poems to them; let them read poems to you.

Where do you get the best poems? (Besides this blog post.) British Children’s Poet Laureate, Michael Rosen advises on introducing poetry in this video. My favorite thing he says is, “The best poetry resource for children is as simple as this thing that was invented a few hundred years ago. It is called a book.

So, today I’m listing the newest poetry books and the best classic favorite books of poetry. (Rosen would be so proud.)

“One needn’t ask hundreds of questions about poems, nor dissect or analyze them to death. Just read poetry, love it to pieces, and enjoy it to the fullest.” –  Lee Bennett Hopkins

poetry books for kids
from A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer

New Rhyming Poetry Books

I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus
by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic

Every Thing On It
by Shel Silverstein
*printables on Shel Silverstein’s website

A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young
by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play (see “Bubbles” above)
by Marilyn Singer illustrated by LeUyen Pham

“Poems are other people’s snapshots in which we see our own lives.” – Charles Simic

poetry books for kids
from The Hound Dog’s Haiku by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Mary Azarian

New (Mostly) Free Verse Poetry Books

Take Two! A Celebration of Twins
by J. Patrick Lewis (current Children’s Poet Laureate) & Jane Yolen, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

The Hound Dog’s Haiku (lots of different dog breeds, see “Border Collie” above)
by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Freedom’s a-Callin Me
by Ntozake Shange

Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander, illustrated by David Diaz (The inauguration poem for President Barack Obama.)

The Arrow Finds Its Mark, A Book of Found Poems (quite interesting!)
edited by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Antoine Guilloppe

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down
by Dana Jensen, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart (amazing collection!!)
by Mary Ann Hoberman (former Children’s Poet Laureate,) illustrated by Michael Emberley

BookSpeak: Poems About Books (LOVE THIS!)
by Laurra Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josee Bisaillon

“Listen to words and sentences. What kind of music do they have?” – Marilyn Singer

poetry poems kids children
from Take Two! by J. Patrick Lewis & Jane Yolen

Familiar Favorite Poetry Books For Kids

poetry books for kidsHere’s a Little Poem A Very First Book of Poetry
edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children
edited by Caroline Kennedy, illustrated by John J Muth

Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD)
edited by Elise Paschen and Dominique Raccah, Illustrated by Judy Love and Paula Zinngrabe Wendland

Hip-Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat
by Nikki Giovanni, illustrated by Alicia Vergel de Dios, Damian Ward, Kristen Balouch, Jeremy Tugeau & Michele Noiset

The Place My Words are Looking For: What Poets Say About and Through Their Work
compiled by Paul B. Janeczko

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms
complied by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka

All the Small Poems and Fourteen More (see “Flamingo” below)
by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Natalie Babbitt

Riddle-lightful: Oodles of Little Riddle Poems
by J. Patrick Lewis

Where the Sidewalk Ends
by Shel Silverstein

Writing a poem is making music with words and space.” – Arnold Adoff

poetry books for kids
from All the Small Poems and Fourteen More by Valerie Worth

Favorite Poets For Kids (and Adults, Too)

Langston Hughes
Eloise Greenfield
Paul Fleishman
Gary Soto
Naomi Shihab Nye
Lee Bennett Hopkins
Nikki Grimes
Eve Merriam
Myra Cohn Livingston
Karla Kuskin
J. Patrick Lewis
Shel Silverstein
Jack Prelutsky

“. . . poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes, they are sleeping. They are the shadows drifting across our ceilings the moment before we wake up. What we have to do is live in a way that lets us find them. – Naomi Shihab Nye

poetry books for kids
from Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Favorite How to Teach Poetry Books for Teachers

Awakening the Heart & For the Good of the Earth and Sun by Georgia Heard

Kid Poems (Kindergarten)Kids’ Poems (Grade 1), Kid Poems (Grade 2)
by Regie Routman

all books by Ralph Fletcher

Wishes, Lies, and Dreams: Teaching Children to Write Poetry
by Kenneth Koch and Ron Padgett

Love that Dog 
by Sharon Creech

“I have always believed that poems beg to be read aloud, even if the reader is in a world all her own.” – J. Patrick Lewis

Other Ideas for Celebrating Poetry

30 Poets in 30 Days

Poetry Everywhere on PBS

Favorite Poem Project

Conditions for real writing:
1) Personal (choice)
2) Interpersonal (social)
3) Time/space to do quality work
4) Pay-off (purpose/feedback) –  Ralph Fletcher

Any favorite poetry books that you would add to the list?

AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Steve-h 
poetry books for kids
poem by Eloise Greenfield, from Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni

poetry books for kids


Why One Mom Reads Poetry With Her Toddler


Pop Popcorn and Write Poems!

  • Kate

    And Douglas Florian! He has some great nature poems. We especially enjoyed reading ‘Winter Eyes’ this past winter. I love sharing Shel Silverstein with my boys and, a true classic, Robert Louis Stevenson. His poems are beautiful: The Moon is a personal favorite of mine. Thanks for compiling this list…so many more poets to explore!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Yes, can’t believe I forgot both of these amazing poets – thanks!

  • Linda

    I like Guyku by Peter H. Reynolds, too! It is haiku for boys, and is so fun. You have some great ones on this post!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      I love Guyku, too! Thanks for reminding me. :)

  • YvonneJ

    In addition to his many books, Kenn Nesbitt has an awesome poetry web site for children. http://www.poetry4kids.com/

  • https://playfightrepeat.wordpress.com/ Suzita @ playfightrepeat.com

    Thanks for this wonderful post! It’s so inspirational to see all this great children’s poetry in one place. Over Spring Break this year, which we still have two more days of, we decided we’d each memorize a poem. These are the ones we’ve memorized:

    8 year-old daughter: I Went to the Store, by Jack Prelutsky
    11 year-old son: Colors, by Shel Silverstein and Peanut Peg and Peanut Pete, by Jack Prelutsky
    13 year-old son: Dream Deferred, by Langston Hughes
    We parents: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 “Let me not to the marriage of true minds…”

    Some of us were quicker to memorize than others, but as long as we’ve keep this activity light, it’s been quite fun.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Suzita,
      Wow – I love that idea and am totally copying it. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://thiskidreviewsbooks.wordpress.com Erik A.K.A. This Kid Reviews Books

    Guyku is really great! They have a cool website too! You have some great information for Poetry month! Thanks :)

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  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    With the exception of rhyming picture books and Jack Prelutsky, I am still struggling to get my kids to read and enjoy poetry. I found novels in verse to work for them … but not straight out poems. I need to work on this. Thanks for the great post. Will try again!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      it’s a hard sell for some kids – how about the rap angle?

  • http://www.poemfarm.amylv.com Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I love Lee Bennett Hopkins, David McCord, Dorothy Aldis, Eve Merriam, Aileen Fisher…gosh there are so many!

    Thank you for this list – I welcome you to visit my blog with near-500 children’s poems and lessons -growing daily at The Poem Farm…

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  • http://www.schoolsparks.com/kindergarten-worksheets School Sparks Renee

    Thanks for these wonderful suggestions. My favorites are Prelutsky and Silverstein, but I’m excited to discover some of yours. I also love the quote about just enjoying poetry! Renee

  • http://twoapplesaday.org jee young

    Thanks for visiting our blog and leaving a comment! This is a fabulous list of poetry suggestions. I love Valerie Worth, Eloise Greenfield, Shel Silverstein, and Paul Fleishman as well!!

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  • Laura Resau

    Nice post, with great suggestions! My 7-year-old son’s all time favorite book ever is YUM! MMMM! QUE RICO! by Pat Mora, with gorgeous illustrations by Rafael Lopez. It’s a picture book of haiku poetry about native foods of the Americas, and it just ZINGS and POPS with colors and flavors. I did a blog post with a little review of the book and pics of an associated tortilla-making activity that my son and I did. Truly, I have to tell you, it surprises me that multicultural poetry has been my son’s #1 most beloved book from about age three to present, because he’s all about ninjas and explosions and Pokemon and whatnot…. but this book wakes up something in his soul! http://lauraresau.blogspot.com/2013/10/making-tortillas-with-my-lil-dude.html

  • Annabelle Gardner

    Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer
    Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Color – by Joyce Sidman
    The first two that came to mind, both are beautiful books.

    I’ll be looking up a few of these.Thank you for the great list.