Oh, how I’ve procrastinated this list. I think I’ve been “working” on it for more than a year. I feel somewhat fraudulent posting on best poetry books for kids because I’m no expert. National Poetry Month is forcing me to face my own fear of poetry to finally complete this list.
Poetry for April has permeated our house. My kids are all doing poetry units at school. No coincidence, I think.
The other week, PickyKidPix had to go to the library to research poems of oppression for her school poetry project. (Strange topic, right? Her friend Devin has “rain” as a poetry topic). We asked the librarian where the poetry books were. I had no idea there was a HUGE section of poetry books for kids in the Non-Fiction section!
It was eye-opening to realize the poetry books are NOT organized by topic. I’m no expert on the Dewey Decimal system but I’m not sure this is the best way to organize poetry books for kids. We pored over four bookcases of poetry books looking for people of color which is a little like searching for that proverbial needle. Nevertheless, we found this small pile.
After digging for poetry books, I realize that sometimes it’s nice to have a list served up to you. I hope this list serves you well!
Please share your favorite poetry books for kids. Together we can build this list. Thanks so much!
Our Favorite Poetry Books for Kids to Read
10. Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
This was my first “official” poetry for kids’ book that I read in its entirety and enjoyed the experience (as poetry scares me). If you want an easy and pleasant slide into poetry, try this lovely picture book with themes of spring and nature. It’s perfect for celebrating National Poetry Month with your kids this month!
9. A Pizza as Big as the Sun by Jack Prelutsky
Grasshopper and Sensei received this as a birthday present in third grade and it remains one of her favorite books. She says it’s really funny and highly recommends it.
8. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
If you were to own just one poetry book for kids, I think this would be my choice.
7. Cool Melons Turn into Frogs! The Life and Poems of Issa story and haiku translations by Matthew Gollub, illustrated by Kazuko G. Stone
I didn’t know who Issa was either so I had to look him up. Kobayashi Issa (小林 一茶, June 15, 1763 – November 19, 1827), was a Japanese poet and lay Buddhist priest of the Jōdo Shinshū sect known for his haiku poems and journals. He is better known as simply Issa , a pen name meaning Cup-of-tea. He is regarded as one of the four haiku masters in Japan, along with Bashō, Buson and Shiki – ‘the Great Four, Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki’.
My kids found some of his Haiku poems to be strangely fascinating, especially the one about melons turning to frogs.
6. Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy
Categorized by topic, Caroline Kennedy of the Kennedy family, shares her love of poetry and her children’s favorites. Jon J. Muth illustrates with his usual gorgeous and sensitive watercolor renderings.
5. The Swamps of Sleethe: Poems From Beyond the Solar System by Jack Prelutsky
For PickyKidPix’s 5th grade poetry project, there were just two rules. You had to find physical books rather than Googling the internet and no Jack Prelutsky. He’s every kids’ go-to poet apparently, so it’s time to share the wealth.
4. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer
The concept is diabolically clever: fairy tales retold through reverse verse. Yes, fairy tales told in verse will read as traditional and familiar BUT if you read the poem in reverse, it’s a whole different story. I love retold fairy tales and this is just too good to miss.
3. Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer
For a multicultural pick, I love this unusual chapter book that combines poetry, letters and story to tell the story of a young girl who emigrates from Puerto Rico to New York City. It’s not the usual immigrant story you’d expect though. Her parents are divorced and her father is in NYC working as a super in their building. Her mother, back in Puerto Rico, is middle class. As Maria masters English, she also discovers the poet within herself. [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
2. Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
We love anything Roald Dahl and his humorous poems that turn fairy tales upside down are irresistible fun!
1. Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
Sharon Creech taught me to love poetry with this slender volume. I thank her for that! She can convince your child too if you read this book. Young Jack in this sequel to Love That Dog is also experiencing a poetry unit, the loss of his dog, and an annoying cat next door.
More Great New Poetry Books
How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper
A poetry memoir from three-time National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson. This is a peek into Pre-Civil Rights America of her family as they traveled around the country as a military family. Her father was a rare black military officer. Her mother, a rare career mom. Told in fifty unrhymed sonnets in iambic pentameter, Marilyn’s perspective is also an original spin-off of a standard. Her family quietly broke color barriers in this coming of age story of a young girl discovering the power of the pen. [Poetry novel in verse memoir, for 12 and up]
Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
These 100 poets express diverse points of view and experiences. This is a list of “Who’s Who” for future poet laureates. [young adult poetry anthology, ages 14 and up]
More Great Poetry Book Lists for Kids
Multicultural poem books from Colorin Colorado
Best Poems for Kids from School Library Journal
Latino American Poetry Books for grades 3 and up from Vamos a Leer.
Poetry Picture Book Giveaway
I am giving away Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. To win, please enter the Rafflecopter. Sorry, USA and Canada only because the shipping gets so expensive. APO Military addresses overseas are fine.
p.s. Poetry Book Lists for Kids:
Poets and Their Poetry Books for Kids
Top 10: Best Poetry Books for Kids
Poetry in Sports Books for Kids
Great Novels in Verse for Kids
5 Amazing Diversity Novels in Verse
Fun and Easy Ways to Expose Kids to Poetry
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
42 thoughts on “Top 10: Best Poetry Books for Kids”
Quite a list! I think A Light in the Atiic is still my favorite.
I’m glad I have it on my list! And thank you for your email on your 9/11 experience.
Go puddle jumping to celebrate spring!
Sound fun! You are entered to win!
“Mirror Mirror” sounds brilliant. Definitely looking for a copy in our library!
We really want a copy too! Such a clever concept!
Forest has a song is my favorite and I would swap your pizza book for Jack’s latest poetry collection, Stardines Swim High Across the Sky. I love the look of Cool Melons turn to Frogs.
Thanks for the great recommendation! My daughter is so fond of the Pizza Book from Prelutsky. It really turned her on to poetry. I’m excited to track down his latest book. You are also entered to win Amy’s book! Since it’s your favorite, you deserve to win (but of course, only Rafflecopter decides).
•Anything by Joyce Sidman, beautiful, lyrical poetry: Swirl by Swirl; The Dark Emperor; Ubiquitous, and Red Sings from Treetops are all lovely.
•Marilyn Singer’s follow-up to Mirror Mirror is called Follow Follow. These reverso poems are just amazing and so fun to read! Her other work is great too. I especially like A Stick is an Excellent Thing; Every Day’s a Dog Day and The Company of Crows.
•Douglas Florian is both a poet and an illustrator, and his work if full of fun and clever wordplay: Unbeelievables; Insectlopedia; Dinothesaurus; Poetrees, among many others. And the art is stunning!
•David Elliott’s books: In the Sea; On the Farm; In the Wild are fun and surprising.
•I also love haiku picture books such as Won Ton by Lee Wardlaw; Dogku by Andrew Clements; Guyku by Bob Raczka (though I object to the title, as the mother of a nature-loving girl—it should be called Kidku!)
•I’m a dog lover, and one of my all-time favorite rhyming picture books is Hound from the Pound by Jessica Swaim—it’s both funny and heart-warming.
And I second the Sardines Swim Across the Sky book–we had so much fun reading these aloud too.
And of course, Jack Prelutsky’s other books, and collections by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Wow, thank you so much for all your suggestions (and for your willingness to guest author for me!!!). I’m excited for your post!!!
Wow, Amy’s got some great company! And I could probably think of two dozen other books that could be easy contenders, as well…very difficult to narrow it down to ten!
I’d love your suggestions … even a few! Thanks so much!
Great picks! Have you read Inside Out and Back Again? I just read that and I loved it! It’s a beautiful story.
So funny that you mention that book. It’s on this post: http://www.pragmaticmom.com/2013/04/novels-in-verse-for-kids/
We go on lots of nature walks to celebrate spring. We love to look for animals and all the colors popping this time of year.
That sounds so lovely! You are entered to win!
What a great post! And this sounds like a wonderful book to celebrate the outdoors in spring!
Thank you so much Emily!!
This is a great list!
Thanks Erik! I am really enjoying your blog, by the way! I think you should start writing books and getting them published!
Fabulous list! I second Catherine’s “Stardines” recommendation, only because I haven’t read “Forest Has a Song” yet. MUST get to bookstore. Withdrawal!!
Thank you so much Cathy. Everyone is raving about Prelutsky’s newest book. I need to get a copy!
Wow.. Thanks for the list of good books to read. We go to park and swimming pool to celebrate spring.
Your spring activities sound really fun!
We are doing lots of gardening! Now that my son is a little older we will be expanding our veggie garden to include more than just tomatoes, but peppers, basil and hopefully cilantro. Thanks for the great book giveaway.
What a lovely garden! I want to try to plant more veggies this year too. You are entered to win!
What a wonderful blog and I really enjoyed reading your list of poetry books for children. So many old favorites as well as a lot of new books that I haven’t ever heard of. To celebrate Spring we have planted a beautiful garden. After moving around several times over the past couple of years we are now living in a home that has a beautiful garden space in the back and we are so excited to watch our plants grow from little seedlings. Thanks again for the giveaway.
I love that your planted a beautiful garden for spring. You must live somewhere warmer than the Northeast where I live. I think we can finally plant but frost might still be an issue. You are entered to win and thank you so much for your kind words!
This book looks great, thanks for the chance!
And great list! I also love the poems and art of Douglas Florian.
It’s a wonderful poetry book for kids! You are entered to win!
I love the collection of poetry books that you’ve gathered. In my house, the favorite over the years with my son and my daughter have been Shel’s. Thanks for sharing with the Kid Lit Blog Hop! Cheryl – Hop Hostess
Thanks Cheryl! And thanks for stopping by.
Sounds like all of these books will be great to sit out in the sun & read this spring 😉
What a great idea!
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer has intrigued me since I first saw it a few months back. I have got to get my hands on that one. Last year, we took out a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends and I was very, very surprised at how much my son enjoyed it. He kept begging me to read more! Who knew?
Thanks for linking this great list into the Kid Lit Blog Hop. 🙂
Oh, how I wish my kids begged me to read poetry. They love Silverstein and Prelutsky but we don’t read that much poetry in general so I need to work on that. I need a copy of Mirror Mirror and the sequel too!
Great list, Mia! (I’m a list-procrastinator, too.)
I love your KidLit lists! How funny that certain lists take a long time for us both to build! I sometimes have to wait for the books to “float” over to me via other blogs or from a newly published list to complete the list.
P.S. I’ll be featuring this post tomorrow, Mia!
Thanks so much Erica!!!
I read Love That Dog to my son when he was 8 weeks old, lovely book! Thanks for the other ideas.
Wow Jenn! What a fun way to enjoy a novel in verse and I’m sure your son liked the sound of your voice reading poetry too!