Greatest Books of Poetry for Youngsters in Grade Ok-12 Really useful by Academics
Whether you’re going all-in for National Poetry Month in April or making poetry a regular part of your class’s reading diet, it’s always a good time to read some poetry books for kids and teens. We’ve collected 40 of our favorite books of poetry for kids in pre-K through high school grades. All of them can be used as mentor texts – some even include teaching tips and examples. From nature festivals to tender poetry to growing up to loads of incredibly silly options, there’s something for everyone on this list.
(Just cheer up, WeAreTeachers can collect some of the sales through the links on this page. We only recommend items that our team loves!)
Best books of poetry for kids in elementary school
1. The Jackie Morris Book of Classic Nursery Rhymes by Jackie Morris (PreK-2)
Share all of those traditional nursery rhymes that you’ve remembered since childhood with your young students with this beautifully illustrated treasure trove. The introduction is a good argument for continuing to share nursery rhymes with children in today’s world.
2. Daniel finds a poem by Micha Archer (PreK-2)
When Daniel sees a sign saying “Poetry in the Park”, he asks, “What is poetry?” His experiences provide an answer, plenty of examples of poetic lines, and a great introduction to poetry writing for young students.
3. A Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Mannis (K – 2)
Eleven poems in the quiet of a Japanese garden. This counting book introduces the haiku form of poetry to young readers.
4. Another Green Day from Antoinette Portis (K-3)
Each turn of the page reveals the subject of a short but powerful verse about an object in nature. Lots of inspiration for students to write their own poems about nature in the same format.
5.Kiyoshi’s Walk by Mark Karlins (K-5)
Kiyoshi wonders how his grandfather, an accomplished haiku poet, finds his poetry. His grandfather shares his wisdom with a poem-filled stroll through the neighborhood. Check out this author’s blog post for helpful tips on teaching poetry.
6. A full moon rises by Marilyn Singer (K - 5)
Exploring the rich traditions of celebrating the full moon as it moves across our skies, this collection of poems is a festival of poetry, culture, geography, and science.
7. The Lama Who Had No Pajamas: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman (1–4)
A delightful treasure trove of poetry covering a wide range of topics – animals, family, play and silliness.
8. Follow Recipe: Poems About Fantasy, Celebration, and Cake by Marilyn Singer (1–5)
This poetry collection uses the contexts of cooking and enjoying food to share vivid poetry on a variety of topics. We especially love Recipe For Disasters and Recipe For Memories. So many curriculum options here!
9. Soccerverse: Poems about football by Elizabeth Steinglass (1-5)
Do your students think poetry is not for them? Convince them with a collection of poems on a favorite subject. This collection has so much playful, clever, poetic language about everything football, from missing shin guards to persistence.
10. Ice cream! Poems about polar life by Douglas Florian (1-5)
Douglas Florian is a master at creating clever, funny pictures in his poems for children. This entertaining collection teaches children the landscape and animals of the North and South Poles, while also increasing their appreciation for poetry.
11. Where the sidewalk ends by Shel Silverstein (1-5)
The gateway to a Shel Silverstein addiction. One of seven Silverstein poetry collections that generations of readers have enjoyed.
12. Insurgent rhymes by Roald Dahl (1–5)
Revolting Rhymes deals with six favorite stories that the classic Roald Dahl is. Each shows Dahl’s somber comic book style and a surprising ending. If your students love this book, they may also like hideous verses and filthy beasts.
13. Tan to Tamarind: Poems about the color brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengarn (1–5)
So many beautiful shades of brown! Children will fall in love with these adorable poems.
14. Black is a rainbow color of Angela Joy (1-4)
This festival of blackness, written in verse, can be enjoyed for both its poetic language and its content. Show students how poetry can beautifully convey important messages.
15. Spi-Ku: A Mess of Short Verses on Eight Legs by Leslie Bulion (2-5)
Do you have spider enthusiasts in your class? Tie them into poetry with this hybrid collection of nonfiction and catchy verses about every type of arachnid you can think of. Ouch!
16. Science verse by Jon Scieszka (2–5)
A collection on the poetry of science is a rare find. This book is very entertaining and will encourage your students to think creatively.
17. Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems for Children and Their Parents by Judith Viorst (2–6)
The title of this collection sets the tone for these impressive poems dealing with the trials of childhood.
18th Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photo by Roxanne Orgill (2–7)
This collection of poems is inspired by the glory days of Harlem jazz in the 1950s. Each poem pays homage to one of the most influential musicians of this iconic era.
19. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (2–7)
A favorite in the classroom! These two-part poems are perfect for poetry lovers and reluctant beginners.
20. A Poke in I: A Collection of Concrete Poems, edited by Paul B. Janeczko (1–4)
Concrete poetry is sometimes called visual poetry or word pictures and presents beautiful words and ideas in shape. These resourceful examples, illustrated by the brilliant Chris Raschka, are sure to inspire your young poets.
21. Wet Cement: A Mixture of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka (3–6)
Another adorable collection to add to your upper elementary school library.
22. It’s raining pigs and noodles by Jack Prelutsky (K – 5)
Jack Prelutsky is a master of the goofy, tongue-breaking, giggling poetry that kids love.
23. I laughed at my socks once by Steve Attewell (2–5)
This entertaining collection is reluctant to encourage young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words.
24. Guyku: One Year Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka (K – 3)
Each haiku in this collection is set in each of the four seasons and features a boy fumbling around while experiencing nature. The author Bob Raczka explains: “Nature is a place where boys like to be.”
25. Turning Green into Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano (K – 5)
This collection is filled with colorful images of nature. It also includes poems that express the emotions evoked by the changing seasons.
Best books of poetry for children in upper elementary and middle school
26. My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness by Georgie Heard (3-8)
Poetry and mindfulness go so well together. Teach both of you with this one-of-a-kind book from a world-class children’s poet.
27. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan (3–8)
Moving and powerful portraits of eleven enslaved people who were auctioned off. Their stories illustrate the meaning of life experiences and dreams that nothing can take away.
28. My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney (3–8)
Full of humor and surprise, this award-winning work by Rachel Rooney is described by one reviewer as “a box of joy and laughter”.
29. How to Eat a Poem: A Smorgasbord of Tasty and Delicious Poems for Young Readers, edited by The American Poetry and Literacy Project (3–8)
This collection offers a rich selection of poems from the 19th century to the present day. It also offers a variety of types, styles, and themes for students to explore.
30. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Form, compiled by Paul B. Janeczko (3–9)
This collection contains a variety of poems and a guide to teaching poetic forms. It also explains 29 shapes and gives good examples.
31. Hip Hop Talks To Children: A Celebration Of Poetry With A Beat, edited by Nikki Giovanni (4–8)
This New York Times bestseller is a vibrant and exciting collection whose poems and beats resonate with readers.
Best poetry books for kids in high school
32.Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (9-12)
Concrete poetry for teenagers that deals with topics like hairstyles, after-school activities, and annoying younger brothers. It’s a fun, sarcastic take on life as a high school student.
33. Technically, it’s not my fault: Concrete poems by John Grandits (9-12)
Eleven-year-old Robert expresses his observations and thoughts in this middle school-oriented collection of specific poems.
34. Poetry speaks for who I am: poems of discovery, inspiration, independence and everything else, edited by Elise Paschen (9–12)
An impressive collection of poetry by award-winning poets and relative newcomers. Each poem addresses the simple truths that arise from the question: Who am I?
35. I Just Hope It’s Deadly: Poems of Sadness, Madness and Joy, edited by Liz Rosenberg and Deena November (9-12)
An honest collection of poems that address the great emotions teenagers experience.
36. Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye (9-12)
A hopeful and encouraging collection of poetry by the poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Dedicated to the memorable people she has met, Nye is a message of empathy and peace.
37. Poems from the classroom: The starting point of a writer by Kathi Appelt (9–12)
This guide, with creative writing exercises and original poetry, is a great teaching tool. It will also encourage teenagers to write poetry about their lives.
38. Get Lit Rising: Words ignite. Request your poem. Challenge your life. by Diane Luby Lane and Get Lit Players (9-12)
Original works by 19 teenage poets known as Get Lit Players. They inspire many teenagers across the country with their award-winning performances of classical poetry and spoken word poetry.
39. More than friends: poems by Sara Holbrook and Allan Wolf (9–12)
Narrated through the voices of a boy and a girl, this collection of poems explores the secrets of teenage love, from the tender beginning to the “final burst of flames”.
40. Please excuse this poem: 100 new poets for the new generation by Brett Lauer and Lynn Melnick (9–12)
This collection contains works by 100 new, young poets. The poems deal with many events in life, from tragedy to bliss, with great originality.