Inside: Poetry books for kids are magical to have on your bookshelves, and these are some of our very favorites. Check them out!
Poetry Books for Kids Your Family Will Love Year Round!
It’s April once again, and that means poetry books for kids are all the rage. Why? Because it happens to be one of my favorite times of the year: National Poetry Month!
Let’s be honest: I’m far from an expert on poetry books for kids. I’m not super well versed in the form, and though sometimes I “get it,” other times, I simply don’t.
That being said, I do find magic in poetry, even the poems that don’t resonate as much as others. And that’s actually the beauty of poetry. It’s free, it’s personal, and it allows each and every one of us to take something different from a given verse.
Poetry Books for Kids are a Fabulous Alternative to Traditional Stories
Just like traditional stories, poetry books for kids are important tools to help boost language development, creativity and self-expression. Because poetry is free from restrictions and conventions, it ignites the imagination and lets children set soar on wondrous journeys. There is so much room for unique personal interpretation!
Poetry makes children think.
It makes them wonder.
It makes them feel.
Whether a verse leaves you laughing or crying, scratching your head in confusion or marveling at the notion that someone else’s words can capture the very essence of your being, poetry is an art form all its own that has a unique ability to help a child’s imagination take flight.
Here are some of our very favorite poetry books for kids- the ones that make us giggle til our tummies hurt, delight us with their beautiful imagery, and make us ponder the very essence and meaning of life. Happy reading!
RELATED: We’ve got the best children’s books for you on Happily Ever Elephants, so be sure to check them out!
Our Favorite Poetry Books for Kids
Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice, by Mahogony Brown, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood: Poetry isn’t always easy for kids to grasp. But when done well, it opens up entire worlds to children. This collection is timely and powerful — but what I love most about it is the way it speaks to all kids. It’s accessible. It’s authentic. And it’s just so ridiculously good. I have no doubt that there is a poem in this incredible collection that will speak not only to each and every one of your kids, but to you, too. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Daniel Finds a Poem, by Micha Archer: This has become the book I use to introduce National Poetry Month to my early elementary students, and every time I use it for a read aloud, it never fails to get a round of applause by each of my classes. This is a beautiful story for any child who asks you that all-important question “what is poetry?” Take your little ones on a walk through nature with Daniel and some animals, and delight in each animal’s description of what poetry is to him. A forever fave! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes: This is a gorgeous tribute to twenty famous poets that have inspired each of the three authors. The poems are all original pieces but pay homage to these revered poets, emulating their styles and voices. An original and ingenious gem! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein: This classic is a must for all bookshelves. It’s highly imaginative and loads of fun, and the quirky poems will be ones your children will remember forever. Who else can recite all of the words to Sick? If you love Where the Sidewalk Ends, make sure to also check out A Light in the Attic and Runny Babbit. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Just Like Me. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton: This gorgeous book of poetry is one that all families will adore. It is an ode to girls of all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds, celebrating girls with big voices and small voices, imaginative girls and go-get-em girls, and girls who defy societal and gender norms. It is a true beauty, filled with poems that will speak to all children — yes, girls and boys alike — and I can’t recommend it highly enough! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
The Undefeated, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: This exquisite work of poetry is takes readers on a journey through the Black experience in America. Through gorgeous prose and glorious illustrations, it speaks to the bitterness of slavery, the fervor of the civil rights movement, and the perseverance and spirit of the country’s most important leaders and heroes. This remarkable work is a moving look at the manner in which Black Americans have overcome trauma to create lasting and indelible achievements in the United States. Gripping, powerful, and achingly triumphant, this book is a masterpiece that will be revered for years and years to come, by children and adults of all ages, colors and backgrounds. Absolutely gorgeous. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems, by Bob Raczka: Concrete, or shape poetry, is always a joy to introduce to my students. They ooh and ahh over the pictures, marveling at the way the words are arranged to take the form of familiar objects. This is one of the most sought after poetry books for kids in my school, and we always use it as an introduction before drafting our own concrete poetry! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Hoop Kings 2: New Royalty, by Charles R. Smith Jr.: This poetry book is a total slam dunk! I am so in love with this collection of poems about twelve pro basketball players, including Lebron James, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Giannis Antetokounmpo. These bold poems and striking photographs combine to create a book of poetry that celebrates and honors some of the most powerful athletes of our time. It is an ode to basketball, athleticism and grace, with fantastic wordplay that will enthrall even the most poetry-averse child. I’ve had a ball (pun intended!) using this book to introduce poetry to my own basketball loving boys, and it will be a perfect addition to share with my students during national poetry month. A stunner! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems, by Marilyn Singer and Josee Masse: My students are absolutely enamored with these reverso poems, which can be read in the traditional manner (from beginning to end) and then in reverse. The poems work both ways, and some of them take on deliciously new meanings when read from bottom to top. Kids will pore over the magic in each poem, and they especially love how this particular book tackles fairy tales head on. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad: I am totally in love with the dynamic team that created this book, and this collection is one of my very favorite poetry books for kids. Beautiful poems spotlighting random days throughout the year convey the awe of each season. Both starting and ending on March 20th, this is a perfect read to celebrate the wonder of each new season, while also helping kids learn about the seasons’ unique characteristics, too. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Fathers, by Hope Anita Smith: If you like poetry, you will LOVE this gorgeous book! Written by a renowned, award winning poet, it is a tender, funny and powerful celebration of fathers. Told from a child’s perspective, this collection celebrates the heartwarming, everyday moments that fill our lives with magic and meaning, from guitar playing to wrestling matches to snuggling together in bed. I just love it. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
I’m Just no Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups! by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith: If you like Shel Silverstein, this new poetry collection is an absolute must. We couldn’t get through some of these poems without totally cracking up, and I was blown away by the wit, creativity, word play, oxymoron, and amazing interplay between the words and the illustrations. A uniquely genius collection that is equal parts novel and nonsense. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown: We read this book every night for months when my littlest was born, languishing in the lovely rhymes and delightful imagery. This is a wonderful anthology for your littlest readers; the poems are short, simple and sweet, making them perfect for tiny babes and toddlers. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez: This striking collection features both stunning illustrations and biographical poems about 18 famous Latinos, from baseball players to botanists to musicians. The poems celebrate their renowned historical contributions, as well as the impacts they continue to have on their vibrant and evolving community today. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons, by Jon J. Muth: Featuring 26 haikus about the four seasons, the well known panda from Muth’s Zen series journeys through the year. This is a fresh take on the traditional Japanese haiku, inviting young readers to stretch their creative muscles as they explore the inviting natural illustrations and simple, yet pitch perfect, prose.
Poems to Learn by Heart, by Caroline Kennedy and illustrated by John Muth: This is a beautiful compilation of poems, both by modern and classic poets, that help kids and families celebrate the smallest to the most momentous of occasions. A stunning collection exploring emotions big and small, this is a perfect book for your library. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart, by Zetta Elliott and illustrated by Noa Denmon: This phenomenal poetry book for kids takes readers on a journey through one child’s days and experiences as a Black boy, and it is relevant, timely, and unbelievably powerful. It is an astonishing exploration of the boy’s feelings throughout a period of time, from joy to anger to pride, with gripping prose matched by illustrations that depict children in various situations — playing ball, watching news about a police shooting, and marching at a protest. This book moved me so deeply; it is one I cannot wait to bring to school to share with my students because it’s power and worth is bar none. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! You need this one. Everyone needs this one! Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance, by Nikki Grimes: This unbelievable poetry book for kids pairs the voices of the Harlem Renaissance with Grime’s unique words. Utilizing a method known as the the “Golden Shovel,” Grimes’ poems incorporate original stanzas from master poets into new and inventive pieces perfect for your upper elementary students. The result is astonishingly beautiful: poems that resonate deeply with the reader and touch upon issues that still plague society today – issues such as racial injustice, identity, and peer pressure. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!
Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems, by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Anna Laitinen: This book of poetry is absolutely stunning. From listening to thunder crash, imagining yourself as a river of peace, and watching waves drifting on water, this book beautifully helps children visualize and connect with the natural world as they begin to learn mindfulness. Support independent bookstores and get the book on Bookshop.org right here!