Not to cast any aspersions on America’s most beloved children’s poet, but there is much more to poetry for young people than the great Shel Silverstein. April is National Poetry Month, and thus a perfect opportunity to explore the wide world of children’s poetry.
From anthologies of works by modern children’s poets to poem picture books to novels in verse, children’s poetry is a wide open and growing genre full of humorous, touching, and imaginative writing that is sure to inspire and delight any child who is exposed to it.
That being said, many adults aren’t familiar with the depth and breadth of children’s poetry out there, so the following are some suggestions of books to explore and enjoy with the whole family. Also, don’t forget to share poetry aloud and to take turns reading, as it gives children the opportunity to find personal meaning in poems as they interact with them.
Try a poetry anthology for a selection of works by many different poets in one volume.
- A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms selected by Paul Janeczko
- Poetry Speaks to Children edited by Elise Paschen
- Here’s a Little Poem collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Check out topical collections of poems on one subject such as school, animals, seasons, or just about anything you can think of!
- From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems by Francisco X. Alarcón
- Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
- Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices by Betsy Franco
Share poetry with younger children with poem picture books, in which the entire text showcases an individual poem.
- My People by Langston Hughes
- Me I Am! By Jack Prelutsky
- All the World by Elizabeth Garton Scanlon
Older children will enjoy novels in verse; while many are quick and easy reads, the lyrical nature of the text makes a lasting impression.
- Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
- Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai