Poetry Books For Kids

I took my kids into our library with one goal in mind: have them fall in love with poetry.  I wondered if it was an insurmountable task.  I’ve read them poems lots of times before.  Sometimes they even like them.  Sometimes.  If it’s Shel Silverstein anyway.  But I was determined this time to help them enjoy a wider range of poems.  My end goal is for them to enjoy writing poetry, but I’m not sure you can ever truly enjoy writing poetry if you haven’t learned to enjoy reading and listening to it.

I took my lofty goal into the library and headed over to the poetry books section.  There were so many to choose from!  I hardly knew where to begin.  I soon found myself falling back on some already old favorites.  I knew my kids would like them, but I also knew I wanted more than what we had already done.

SilversteinI decided to wander over to the children’s librarian and see if she had any input for me.  I ended up with a stack of terrific poetry books that we all fell in love with.  The best part was the incredible variety — poems for two voices, parodies, non-fiction poetry, all sorts!

My Poetry Book List:

Biographies

  • The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Fracisco Manzano by Margarita Engle
  • Becoming Joe DiMaggio by Maria Testa
  • Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford

Concrete Poetry:

  • Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka
  • Ruff Meow by Joyce Sidman
  • Falling Down The Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard

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Nonfiction Poetry:

  • The Surrender Tree: Poem’s of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle
  • Sweethearts to Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World by Marilyn Nelson
  • Good Masters!  Sweet Ladies!  Voices From A Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
  • A  Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  • National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry
  • Face Bugs by J. Patrick Lewis
  • Rimshots: Basketball Pics, Rolls, and Rhythms by Charles R. Smith Jr.

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Novels in Verse:

  • Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
  • Witness by Karen Hesse
  • Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  • May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
  • The Dancing Pancake by Eileen Spinelli

Parody/Humor:

  • Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine
  • Anything by Kenn Nesbitt

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Poetry for Two Voices: 

  • Joyful Noise: Poems For Two Voices by Paul Fleischman

Poetry Collections:

  • Kids Pick The Funniest Poems: Poems That Make Kids Laugh by Bruce Lansky
  • The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry by Bill Martin Jr.
  • The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury by Jack Prelutsky
  • Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn By Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman
  • The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems edited by Donald Hall
  • Beastly Feasts by Robert L. Forbes

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We read and listened to lots and lots of poems and we really did fall in love with poetry.  The kids memorized a lot of the funny poems we read.  My son still breaks out with Kenn Nesbitt’s “I Went To The Barber” every time we tell him it’s time for a haircut.  Most of all, we learned that there are all kinds of poems.  They can be stories or there can be no story at all..  They can be true or intensely imaginary.  They can be serious or funny.  They can rhyme, but they don’t have to.  Mostly, we learned there aren’t really rules for poems.

We spend so much time fixing spelling words, but Shel Silverstein makes up new ones, like pelicant.

9bf099031fe4d7ecea2e90a96b056b11 We worry and fuss over sentence structure, grammar, and indenting.  Poets don’t!  They don’t have to follow any rules.  Reading all these poems helped us to see that.  It was really, really a joy to read so much fun variety.  Hope you’ll check some of these out and fall in love with poetry like we did!

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