Ten Books of Poems for Kids

Ten Books of Poems for KidsThis post is part of the Traveling Through the Pages Summer Reading Adventure. It is not too late to download your free printables and join in on the fun!

Po-et-ry [poh – i – tree] noun 1. Something that rhymes. 2. Something to sigh at and say, “If I only understood it.” 3. Something I always knew was important to know if I was going to be really educated and smart, but never could bring myself to enjoy.

Does your definition of poetry sound like mine?  The poetry square on my summer reading sheet when I was a kid was something I dreaded.  You did earn one whole point per poem, but they were so darn hard to get through!

I wanted to understand what I was reading and knew I had to explain enough of what I read to the librarian to get my points, so I picked out Where the Sidewalk Ends, read the minimum five poems, and moved on.

Even though we have memorized a few poems this year in our homeschool and read many more, I was still confused on why poetry was so important.  So, I picked the brain of an English teacher at the local classical school.

He reads a poem to his seventh graders every day before they start class.  He reads the poetry for enjoyment. The idea that you must pick apart a piece of poetry after one or two reads is what makes everyone avoid poetry.

Instead, enjoyment must come first.  Listen to how neat the words sound together, appreciate rhythm, laugh if it is funny and don’t worry about why.

This year I have begun to really enjoy poetry for its own sake.  My children love to hear me read from any poetry book.  Below are a few selections we love.

Single Picture Books

Wynken, Blynken, & Nod – A lovely illustrated bedtime poem and my son’s favorite. Travel the evening sky with the three travelers is this figurative treat for the eyes and ears.

The Owl and the Pussycat – There are many illustrated versions of this poem.  We like this one. Kids just can’t resist the silly love story between two most unlikely suitors. And it never hurts to know what a runcible spoon is either.

What Can I Give Him? – The Christmas Story in poetry. We have this one memorized, and it is a lovely tribute to the true meaning of Christmas.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening – A beautifully illustrated version of this classic poem that your children will have memorized after just a few readings. The black and white drawings with single pops of red here and there accent this timeless classic from Frost.

Paul Revere’s Ride – I like the illustrations of this version. (I’m sure you are sensing a theme here. A picture book to me is nothing without good illustrations.)  This is also a classic that will be useful during the school year yes, but why not ENJOY it now? The rhythm of this poem is reminiscent of the galloping feet of Revere’s mount — a fact that is sure to delight even young readers as they gallop along as you read.

Collections of Poems for Kids

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children – One of the best all-around collections for children. These delightful poems are wonderfully illustrated and arranged by topic. The handy index makes it easy to find the perfect poem for an autumn tea party, a specific holiday, or a special interest — like frogs or alligators.

Hailstones and Halibut Bones: Adventures in Poetry and Color – I love this collection about color! Every color has a poem about it. Great as a summer introduction to color for preschoolers, or more importantly, to simply enjoy.

A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers – A Newberry Medal book, as well as a Caldecott Honor book, this traveling poem book takes a little boy on quite the journey.

Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems) – Japan has haiku and Korea has sijo, a poem with stressed syllable rules.  This book is a delightful introduction to this fun type of poetry.  While haiku’s subject is mostly nature, sijo can be about anything and the last line has a funny twist, pun or something unexpected.  I loved this fun informative book!  The poems are about subjects children understand and the notes at the end helped us write our own sijo.

Poetry for Young People – We have read selections from Poetry for Young People: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  The illustrations were very well done and the content was a little dark, but well chosen. I plan on picking a few more and adding them to our home library.

Are you a poetry fan? What are your favorite poems for children?

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  • Tonia says:

    The Random House book is one of our favorites as well. Favorite Poems Old & New is another favorite.

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      The Random House is definitely our “go-to” anthology. I use the fool out of the indexes in that one. I will have to check out Favorite Poems; I don’t think I have heard of it. Thanks!

  • Cassie says:

    Around the Year by Elsa Beskow has become a favorite here since I bought it this past winter.

  • Amy says:

    We love A Child’s Garden of Verses (the version illustrated by Barbara McClintock is our favorite).

  • Gina says:

    Pam, Thanks for this list!! We are just getting into poetry more ourselves, and it is immensely helpful to have some resources. Can’t wait until our local library opens again so we can check some of these out!

    • Jessica says:

      So glad you found our list helpful! One of my favorite things is to hear my daughter giggle as she reads from a poetry book. Enjoy!

  • Your definition of poetry pretty much sums up the general attitude. I love what you said about learning to enjoy poetry for its beauty!

    The two-day classical school my daughter attended last year required lots of poetry memorization. I was simply stunned by how quickly she (and the rest of the students) mastered new poems and genuinely loved reciting them. I’ve been compiling my own collection of poems for her to memorize next year and the more I immerse myself in poetry, the more I love it. It makes me feel like dancing around the kitchen as I prepare dinner for the sheer beauty of life in God’s world! 🙂 Thanks for the great poetry recommendations–I found your lovely site through the Trivium Tuesday link-up!

    • Jessica says:

      Yep, the more you read poetry, the more you want to read it, and say it, and talk about how neat it sounds. Glad you enjoyed the post! Be sure to come back for more of our summer reading reccomendations!

  • Amy says:

    We have a few poetry books and have memorized about 5 decent sized poems (for my small kids) this year, including The Land of Nod. I have a hard time understanding poetry like pretty much everyone else does =) but I’m learning that if you just read it over and over, it starts to make sense! I’m hoping to grow as the years go on and as my kids have to encounter harder poetry =)

  • Jennifer says:

    Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein is an all time favorite here. My girls really enjoy the Sonlight suggested The Llama Who Had No Pajama. Of course, we also enjoy Stevenson and Mother Goose.

    I need a good copy of The Owl and the Pussycat!

    • Jessica Lawton says:

      I love Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too! It is one of my favorite childhood poems. I had an uncle who could recite it. We always begged him to do it, “Just one more time!”

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