O Autumn! When red and gold drift on the wind!
Okay, I'll stop there because autumn is the perfect time of year to enjoy good autumn poems by actual poets.
By now, you've heard that reading poetry has unmatched benefits for kids and families. Studies show poetry has a dramatic effect on the brain. It introduces us to new language, stirs the imagination, encourages reflection and calms us.
These autumn poems are specially chosen to appeal to kids and families. You'll find classic and contemporary autumnal poetry on an array of subjects and by a diverse selection of authors. Happy reading!
Classic Autumn Poems
Following are some wonderful classic poems to read and share with your children. If classic poems seem inaccessible to you, one tip is to read only the first stanza and let it sit with you for a while.
It may also be reassuring to know that the human brain is hardwired to appreciate poetry, even if you don't understand the language
Discuss the imagery and rhythm of the words and rhyme, then move on the the next stanza, but only if you want. It's okay, especially with younger children to read only short poems or excerpts from poems.
- "Fall, Leaves, Fall" by Emily Brönte
- "Willow Poem" by William Carlos Williams*
- "Hoar-Frost" by Amy Lowell
- "The Wild Swans at Coole" by W. B. Yeats
- "Besides the Autumn Poets Sing" by Emily Dickinson
- "The Morns Are Meeker than They Were" by Emily Dickinson
- "Autumn Fires" by Robert Louis Stevenson
- from "Cristobel" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- "September" by Helen Hunt Jackson
- "How the Leaves Come Down" by Susan Coolidge
- "Pleasant Sounds" by John Clare
- "O Autumn, Autumn!" by Effie Lee Newsome
* Poets.org has a helpful lesson plan for this poem.
Since these classic autumn poems are in the public domain, a printable is available. Fill out this form and a copy will fly over into your email inbox.
MORE: For beginning poetry readers, the tips in our poetry reading challenge will be very helpful!
Modern Autumn Poems
Not so excited about "old-fashioned" poems? Modern verse can be a delightful gateway into the wonderful world of poetry. Below, you'll find the first few lines of some wonderful contemporary autumn poems, with the titles linking to the full poem. (Because of copyright issues, I cannot reproduce them in full, here.)
I love to go out in late SeptemberBlackberry Eating by Galway Kinnell
among the fat, overripe, icy, black blackberries
to eat blackberries for breakfast,
the stalks very prickly, a penalty
Once I said to a scarecrow, “You must be tired of standing in this"The Scarecrow" by Khalil Gilbran
The breezes taste"September" by John Updike
of apple peel.
The air is full
of smells to feel-
I think he knows I’m alive, having come down"For the Chipmunk in My Yard" by Robert Gibb
The three steps of the back porch
And given me a good once over.
Listen. ."November Night" by Adelaide Crapsey (full poem, public domain)
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
the black oaks fling"Fall" by Mary Oliver
their bronze fruit
into all the pockets of the earth
I didn't know I was grateful"Home" by Bruce Weigl
for such late-autumn
Autumn Poetry Books
For snuggle time with poetry, pick up one of these kid-friendly autumn poetry books at your local library or bookstore. (Note: this list contains affiliate links)
Autumnblings by Douglas Florian. Florian's wonderful use of inventive words enhance these joyful poems about the pleasures and rituals of autumn.
Flower Fairies of the Autumn by Cicely Mary Baker. We have to be truthful and say that Baker is perhaps not the most exquisite poet out there, but her flower fairy poems and illustrations are so much fun, it's impossible not to enjoy them.
Applesauce Weather by Helen Frost, illustrated by Amy June Bates. Here's a lovely novel written in verse about a family's ritual of gathering together when the first apple falls from the tree. This year, the family adjusts to a fall without one of their members. Ages 8 and up.
Angels Ride Bikes: And Other Fall Poems / Los Angeles Andan en Bicicleta: Y Otros Poemas de Otoño by Francisco X. Alarcon, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez is a bilingual collection of poems that is part of a four book series spanning the seasonal year. Each short poem in free verse is in both Spanish and English, presenting snapshots of a diverse group of children enjoying autumnal life to the fullest.
Visit all the posts in this series of seasonal poetry: