I’ve been saving these poetry books to share with you for National Poetry Month!
Poetry speaks to my heart and soul in a way that nothing else can. The precisely crafted words, the sensory images, the depth all resonate in me, almost like music.
Which is one of the reasons I think we must share poetry with children…so that they will learn it, know it, and befriend it.
So that poetry can help children through their dark times, confused times, and joyful times.
Whether or not young poetry readers become writers of poetry, we can fill them up with words and ideas, introducing them to another lifeline of hope and solace in a challenging world.
Even better, if we can teach our babies and students to express themselves through poetry, they’ll have a way to voice their feelings and thoughts that will be another gift in their lives. (Two of the books below do just that.)
Incidentally, I plan to launch a new poetry writing unit this summer for those of you who homeschool or are looking for a workshop-style curriculum that relies on mentor texts and student choice. Keep an eye out for that…
7 New, AMAZING, Must-Own Poetry Books
This Poem Is a Nest by Irene Latham, illustrated by Johanna Wright
You’ll be fascinated by the beauty and playfulness of the language, imagery, and meaning in these evocative poems. The poet begins with longer nest poems and then uses the words found in those poems to make smaller, nestling poems, also called “found poems”. Doesn’t this sound amazing? (It is!) “What Hope Is / a cup / of stars” The poems range in topic from nature to emotions to imagination.
My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems on Mindfulness by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Isabel Roxas
Simple poems make the basics of mindfulness understandable to children from breathing to understanding thoughts and feelings, and being in the present moment. I love that these poems could be used as short meditations. “See yourself walking in an open field; / let wind offer you its breath. / Become a green leaf / floating lazily down a stream.” But, I also love that it reminds us too-busy adults to slow down, breathe, and notice the world around us. “Focus your heart like a camera / and the ordinary will shine brand-new.” Georgia Heard is one of my FAVORITE poetry writing mentors and not surprisingly, all of these poems could be used as mentor poems to teach poetry writing — things like line breaks, sensory images, precise word choice.
Spi-Ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs bt Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck
Rich imagery and playful language fill this engaging book of spider-themed poems of all kinds accompanied by informational text and illustrations. “Longbodied Cellar Spider / hungry wasp / knob-kneed arachnid / a whirling blur / invisibility cloak– cobweb to be continued….” Different poetic forms and different kinds of spiders fill the pages. Learn about silk, food, senses, and much more. “Wrap bite blergh / SLURRRP. / Bite wrap blergh chew / SLURRP.” Parents, read this to help your children discover a love for poems! Teachers, whatever poetry form or literary devices you’re teaching, you’ll find beautiful examples in this book.
Kwame Alexander’s Free Write: A Poetry Notebook (Ghostwriter) by Kwame Alexander
This fun-to-read workbook for ages 8 to 12 introduces writers to poetry, literary devices like metaphors, as well as other poetic techniques. Written in Alexander’s signature voice and style, kids will get hooked as they dive into poetry. Alexander provides example poems with fill-in-the-blanks and lots of spaces for free writes.
Throughout the book, poets will also find inspirational quotes from other authors. “A poem is a cup of words open to the sky and wind in a bucket.” – Naomi Shihab Nye. Get your pencils ready, this little book will turn your writers into poets.
Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong
Brilliant! I love the structure of this book for inspiring and instructing young poets. Each section begins with a mentor poem, then shares different character’s response poems and related activities for writers to do on their own. The selection of mentor poems is top-notch, deeply relatable, and accessible to children. The first mentor poem is from “Blue Bucket” by Naomi Shihab Nye. The activity asks writers to try writing a poem that repeats a phrase or line such as “what if”. Another mentor poem is “Poem for a Bully” by Eileen Spinelli and the activity is to write a poem that incorporates opposites. The book concludes with a helpful resource guide at the back including performance tips, where to publish, and other resources. Highly recommended.
Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
Stunning artwork and profoundly powerful poems share meaningful musings and lessons about being a girl turning into a woman, being Black, nature, and identity–among other topics. Grimes shares poems from Harlem Renaissance writers then uses them to write her own The Golden Shovel poems, using words from the original poems in her new poems, each line ending with one of the words from the original poem. I’ve read and reread these poems more than once and am always finding new things to love — one of which is just the masterful use of language to convey meaning and spark wonder. For children 10 and up.
Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorite poets and I have sticky notes all over this bookmarking all my favorite poems in this book, which I think is an essential poetry collection for readers and poets. This collection of her poems is about diverse topics including war, fear, identity, kindness, Arabic life, and much more including some familiar favorites like “Valentine for Ernest Mann” and “Famous” as well as several new poems. Add this to your bookshelf, classroom libraries, and libraries!
I’ve added these books to my BIG LIST OF POETRY BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR KIDS.
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