Summer! A time for lazy days, sand between the toes, running through the sprinklers and... reading poetry.
That's right. Summer wouldn't be summer without the best summer poems for kids. Whether you read them in a hammock, by the pool, or under the stars while licking s'mores off your fingers, summer poetry is bound to make your life better.
We've been working through the poetic seasons and have arrived at summer. To follow on the journey don't miss:
- Winter poems for kids and families
- Spring poems for kids and families
- Autumn poems for kids and families (coming soon!)
To help you on your summer poetry journey use the following resources in this article:
- a selection of classic summer poems for kids, including a printable which you can fold up, put in your pocket and carry everywhere you go (you think I'm joking about "everywhere you go," but I'm not)
- suggestions for contemporary summer poetry to read aloud, including links to follow so you can read the full poem at your leisure
- recommendations for summer poetry books
Classic Summer Poems for Kids
Some people shy away from classic poems, fearing the language will seem strange or archaic. But never fear! Summer is a great opportunity to take the time to explore classic poetry in a leisurely fashion.
Tip: I recommend reading poetry out loud. When you read the poem aloud to your children, ask them to close their eyes and picture the imagery being described. That will help them talk about it afterwards.
Classic summer poetry in the printable:
- "A Boat, Beneath a Sunny Sky" by Lewis Carroll
- "I Love to See the Summer Beaming Forth" by John Clare
- "Bed, In Summer" by Robert Louis Stevenson
- Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare
- "Summer in the South" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- "In Summer Time" by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- "August" by Helen Hunt Jackson
- "In the Mountains on a Summer Day" by Li Po
- "Marshlands" by Emily Pauline Johnson
- A Song, from The Tempest by William Shakespeare
- "Birdsong" by Christina Rossetti
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Contemporary Summer Poems for Kids (and Families!)
All kids everywhere will relate to these contemporary poems that speak to their own experiences. I had such a hard time narrowing the choices down! The link in the title and author of the poem to read it in full. Because of copyright laws, I can't republish them all here.
It's almost May"Firefliy" by Jacquine Woodson
I saw a firefly.
Until I saw the sea"Until I Saw the Sea" by Lillian Moore
I did not know
could wrinkle water so.
Summer’s ending."My Rock" by Pat Mora
I sit on my desert rock, listen
to the world’s hum.
You turn the kitchen"Ode to Kool-Aid" by Marcus Jackson
tap’s metallic stream
into tropical drink,
My father and brothers"Swimming to the Rock" by Mary Atkinson
are swimming to the Rock.
“Come with us!”
they call to me
I always like summer"Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni
you can eat fresh corn
from daddy's garden
the beauty of jazz & blues voices,"Sonic Fireflies" by Quincy Troupe
syncopation of syllables flowing
free form through improvising sentences
Poetry Books for Summer Reading
Sure, you can print out the classic poems and read the modern verses, but there's nothing like holding a good, old-fashioned book in your hand. Read these delightful summer poems for kids out loud under the shade of a favorite tree. Don't forget the ice cream cones.
(Note: titles are affiliate links that may earn commission.)
From the Bellybutton of the Moon: And Other Summer Poems / Del Ombligo de la Luna: Y Otros Poemas de Verano by Francisco X. Alarcon, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. I've frequently recommended this bilingual seasonal poetry series from Alarcon and Gonzalez and I will continue to do so!
Lemonade Sun: And Other Summer Poems by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist. A cheerful collection of poems that celebrate all kinds of old fashioned summertime fun. I especially loved the Double Dutch Ditty.
Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow, illustrated by Erik Blegvad. This isn't actually of poetry book, but it's poetic in its own way. Kids will love the whimsical recipes for bark sandwiches, berry boats and wood chip dip and they will immediately head outside to dig into (literally) the natural world.
Afternoon on a Hill by Edna St. Vincent Millay and Paolo Domeniconi. This short, beautifully illustrated version of Millay's 1917 poem is perfect for summer reading. If you read it outside you will become one with your surroundings; if you read it inside you will be transported to a beautiful summer hillside. Am I being too dramatic? Read it and judge for yourself.
Summerhouse Time by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. This is a free verse novel about 11-year-old Sophie and her summer adventures at the family's beach house. Sophie loves swapping secrets with her favorite cousin, trips to the donut shop and hanging out at the beach.