There is something so joyous about reading poetry to my kids. Each poem, even the short one, is so full. Full of meaning, full of emotion, full of subtext, full of fun, full of thought. I never read poetry to my kids without smiling.
It was difficult to narrow this list of great children’s poets down to just 20. I’ve only listed books for the first nine (because I ran out of time! These lists take a lot of time, folks), and then I’ve given you the names of more poets you should look for on your library shelves. Most of these names are contemporary authors, but I’ve thrown in a few classic poets as well.
Once you’ve caught the poetry bug, please explore all of my poetry resources for parents and kids.
(Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links)
And now, in no particular order… a few great children’s poets your kids should know, and will love!
Wet Cement: Concrete Poems. I mentioned Bob Raczka’s latest collection in my newsletter last week (subscribe to my newsletter here) and the next day it arrived on the library hold shelf just for me. If you aren’t familiar with concrete poems, you are in for a real treat. I think they are my 11 year old’s favorite type of poetry because there is a puzzle factor and an “aha!” moment when what you are seeing connects with what you are thinking. This book is entirely in black and white and it is the poems themselves which create the pictures, there are no other illustrations. A marvelous book.
- Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole
- Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys
- Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
Stop asking me to choose a favorite Jack Prelutsky poetry book. Just stop. I can’t! It’s impossible. Whether it is the crazy Scranimals, the imagined creatures in Sardines Swim High Across the Sky or the amusing comparisons in Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant, I love them all. Good Sports is certainly my boys’ favorite!
- Too numerous to name, just check them all out!
J. Patrick Lewis
Doodle Dandies: Poems That Take Shape. J. Patrick Lewis was the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate a few years ago and he has written some very inventive poems, as well as curating some wonderful collections, like the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
- Poem-mobiles: Crazy Car Poems
- Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems
- When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders
Where the Sidewalk Ends. Do I really need to tell you about the poet who put children’s poetry on the modern map?
ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
Every household should contain a copy of A Child’s Garden of Verses. There are several different illustrated versions. I love the Tasha Tudor illustrations and this one with illustrations by Gyo Fujikawa.
Marilyn Singer’s reverso poem books should be on your must read list. There are three of them now, such as Mirror, Mirror. Check them all out!
- Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents
- A Full Moon is Rising
- A Stick is an Excellent Thing
Douglas Florian’s whimsical and clever picture book poetry, such as Poetrees, is great for kids who don’t yet have a lot of exposure to poetry, as well as for us old hands. He has a number of themed collections, so there will be something for everyone.
- UnBEElievables:Honeybee Poems and Paintings
- Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings
- Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings
- Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings
I hate to say it yet again, but it is difficult to single out a book to feature by Joyce Sidman, but start with Red Sings from Treetops. Sidman’s poetry centers around nature and her books often include facts and narratives about her subjects.
- Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
- Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
- Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
- What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms, and Blessings
Other poets to check out: (add your own favorites in the comments!)
- Jane Yolen
- Francisco X. Alarcon
- Christina Rossetti
- Lee Bennet Hopkins
- Paul Janeczko
- Roald Dahl
- Edward Lear
- Lewis Carroll
- Michael Rosen
- Allan Ahlberg
- Naomi Shihab Nye
My poetry book lists:
- Non-boring poetry books that will make you love poetry
- Diverse poetry books for kids
- Haiku poetry books for kids
- Chapter books written in verse
Try our poetry reading challenge: guaranteed to make you a total fan of poetry!
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