I want kids to read and love poetry. I really do. Why? Because while poems may seem easy to read because the words are concise and the text is short, the imagery, symbolism, and meaning generally pack a big punch. Which kids will appreciate later in life even more.
Through the years, I’ve reviewed and recommended many poetry books. Here are some newly published titles and books that I’ve missed in recent years. Enjoy!
Poetry Books You Don’t Want to Miss
Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds, illustrated by Shahrzad Maydani
This is a gentle picture book story celebrating poetry, nature, and friendship with soft, muted illustrations. When Sylvia ties her newly written spring poem onto a birch tree at the park, she finds a new poem left for her the next day. Excited, she writes spontaneous poems and dreams in rhymes, all the while trading poems back and forth with a mysterious poet. Soon, she’ll learn that she has a new friend, a poet just like her. (I want a poetree, don’t you!)
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How To Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Richard Jones
Start with how to build a poem then read how to mix a pancake, ride a new bike, make a snow angel, or be a snowflake. I like the poets represented in this new collection of poems for children as well as the short poems about so many different topics.
Boom! Bellow! Bleat! Animal Poems for Two or More Voices by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt
This is a MUST-OWN book for teachers and school libraries, homeschoolers and poetry-loving parents. It captures the most interesting sounds of nature. Kids will clamor to read these with parents, teachers, friends, and classmates. Not only will kids understand the beauty of words, oral reading, and imagery but they’ll see the playfulness of words and discover new animal sounds they’ve never known.
The poems are written in several colors. Children will choose the color of text to read (black or red, for example) starting with the poem “Animal Songs.” One reader reads the animal name written in black text. The other reads that animal’s sound written in red text. (“Kangaroos / Chortle“) The book is filled with the noise of fish, geese, frogs, mockingbirds, snakes, bees, and many more animals.
“Songsters of the Sea”
in a sapphire sea.
My watery hymn
serenades humpback whales
thousands of miles away.
Like an echo.
I hear a whale sing.
my song back to me.
(This is an excerpt, not the full poem.)
I adore the many sounds of elephants. So will you. Listen– Sort, ruuuuummmble, roar, cry, bark, …
Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke
The poet celebrates a child’s life filled with reading, the culture of reading, and I love every single poem! “A book gives you a double life. / It builds a treehouse in your head / a haven you can climb to / when you wish to get away.” The poems show kids reading while eating and at school, they show readers transported and affected by stories, they show readers researching and remembering. “And as I chew I read. / And as I read I chew.”
Pocketful of Poems by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
I love how Nikki Grimes writes poetry as story. This book of poems tells the story of a girl named Tiana who loves words. Her style is conversational, relatable, and made even more interesting with textured collage illustrations. “Pigeons masquerade as wildlife. They can’t fool me. We’re all city folk.” This book makes an inspirational, amazing mentor text to teach kids to write poetry about their life.
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!