38 Essential Poetry Books for Kids in Grades K–12

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Best Poetry Books for Kids in Grades K-12

While we think poetry shouldn’t be saved for April, National Poetry Month is a great reason to check out some poetry books for kids and teens. We’ve gathered 38 of the best poetry books for kids in grades K–12. All can be used as mentor texts—some even include teaching tips and examples. From deeply personal coming-of-age poems to side-splitting silly rhymes, there’s something on this list for everyone. 

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Best Poetry Books for Kids in the Primary Grades

1. Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky (K–2)

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Plant a love of poetry in little ones with this awesome anthology.

2. One Leaf Rides the Wind by Celeste Mannis (K–2)

Eleven poems set in the tranquility of a Japanese garden. This counting book introduces the haiku form of poetry to young readers.

3. Feel the Beat: Dance Poems That Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer (K–3)

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This poetry collection is a celebration of the rhythm and movement of dance and words. It comes with a CD of the author reading each poem set to music.

4. A Full Moon is Rising by Marilyn Singer (K–5)

This collection of poetry explores the rich traditions of celebrating the full moon as it passes across our sky and is a celebration of poetry, culture, geography, and science.

5. The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman (1–4)

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A delightful trove of poetry that covers many topics—animals, family, play, and silliness.

6. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein  (1–5)  

http://amzn.to/2FC5b6N 

The gateway to a Shel Silverstein addiction. One of seven Silverstein poetry collections that generations of readers have enjoyed.

7. Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl (1–5)

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Revolting Rhymes tackles six favorite tales that are classic Roald Dahl. Each features Dahl’s darkly comic style and a surprise ending. If your students love this book, they might also enjoy Vile Verses and Dirty Beasts.

8. Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown by Malathi Michelle Iyengarn (1–5)

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So many beautiful shades of brown! Children will fall in love with these delightful poems.

9. Peculiar Poems for Pint Size Provocateurs by Oona Zbitkovskis (2–4) 

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Beautifully illustrated, this collection of poems celebrates having a childlike imagination. It also shares valuable life lessons.

10. Science Verse by Jon Scieszka  (2–5)

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A collection on the poetry of science is a rare find. This book is highly entertaining and will also get your students thinking creatively.

11. Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems for Children and Their Parents by Judith Viorst (2–6)  

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The title of this collection perfectly sets the tone for these impressive poems that tackle the trials of childhood.

12. Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill (2–7)

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This collection of poems is inspired by the glory days of 1950s Harlem jazz. Each poem is a tribute to one of the influential musicians of this iconic age.

13. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (3–7) 

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A classroom favorite! These two-part poems are perfect for poetry lovers and reluctant beginners alike.

14.  A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems edited by Paul B. Janeczko (1–4) 

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Sometimes called visual poetry or word pictures, concrete poetry presents beautiful words and ideas in shape form. These imaginative examples, illustrated by the brilliant Chris Raschka, will surely inspire your young poets.

15. Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka (3–6) 

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Another charming collection to add to your upper elementary classroom library.

16.  It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles by Jack Prelutsky (K–5) 

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Jack Prelutsky is a master of the silly, tongue-twisting, giggle-inducing poetry that kids love.

17. Once I Laughed My Socks Off by Steve Attewell (2–5) 

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This fun collection encourages reluctant young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words.

18. Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear (2–5)

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First published in 1846, this illustrated book of poems has been a favorite for generations. 

19. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka  (K–3)

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Set in each of the four seasons, each haiku in this collection shows a boy goofing off while experiencing nature. Author Bob Raczka explains, “Nature is a place where guys love to be.” 

20. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano (K–5) 

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This collection is filled with colorful images of nature. It also features poems that express the emotions evoked by the changing seasons.

21. All the Wild Wonders edited by Wendy Cooling (2–5)

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Budding environmentalists will love this collection put together by anthropologist and former teacher Cooling. Each poem encourages kids to enjoy nature, be present, and ask questions.

Best Poetry Books for Kids in Upper Elementary and Middle School

22. Vanishing Trick by Ros Asquith  (3–7)

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Featuring poems on topics as diverse as dragons, bullies, and cherry pie. This collection asks clever questions about life and the world.

23. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan (3–7)

Moving and powerful portraits of eleven enslaved people who were sold at auction. Their stories illustrate the importance of life experiences and dreams that nothing can take away.

24. My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney (3–7)

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Full of humor and surprises, this award-winning work by Rachel Rooney is described by one reviewer as “a box of joy and laughter.”

25. Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson edited by Frances Schoonmaker Bolin (3–7)

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The Poetry for Young People series “opens up the world of wonderful word images by pairing classic verses with beautiful illustrations, and by providing helpful definitions and commentary.” Other poets featured in the series include Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and Walt Whitman. 

26. 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) 

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This collection offers a rich sampling of poetry from the 19th century through today. It also features a wide variety of types, styles, and themes for students to explore.

27. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms compiled by Paul B. Janeczko (3–9)

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This collection includes a variety of poems and a guidebook to teaching poetic forms. It also explains 29 forms and gives great examples. 

28. Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat edited by Nikki Giovanni (4–8)  

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This New York Times bestseller is a vibrant and exciting collection whose poetry and beats will resonate with readers.

Best Poetry Books for Kids in High School

29. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (9–12)

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Concrete poetry for teens that tackles subjects such as hairdos, extracurriculars, and annoying younger brothers. It’s a funny, sarcastic take on life as a high schooler.

30. Technically, It’s Not My Fault: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (9–12) 

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Eleven-year-old Robert voices his observations and thoughts in this middle school-focused collection of concrete poems.

31. Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence and Everything Else edited by Elise Paschen (9–12)

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An impressive collection of poems by award-winning poets and relative newcomers. Each poem speaks to the simple truths that emerge from asking the question: Who am I?

32. Seeing the Blue Between: Advice and Inspiration for Young Poets compiled by Paul Janeczko (9–12)

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This collection gives advice on the art of poetry from those who know best. Poets offer words of wisdom to aspiring poets as well as examples of their own work.

33. I Just Hope It’s Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy edited by Liz Rosenberg and Deena November (9–12)

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An honest collection of poems that addresses the vast emotions teenagers experience.

34. Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye (9–12)

http://amzn.to/2Dvl6xX

A hopeful and encouraging collection of poems by poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Dedicated to the memorable people she’s met, Nye’s message is one of empathy and peace.

35. Poems from Homeroom: A Writer’s Place to Start by Kathi Appelt (9–12)

http://amzn.to/2Dvl6xX

This guidebook, filled with creative writing exercises and original poems, is a great teaching tool. It will also encourages teens to write poetry about their lives.

36. Get Lit Rising: Words Ignite. Claim Your Poem. Claim Your Life. by Diane Luby Lane and the Get Lit Players (9–12)

http://amzn.to/2Dvl6xX

Original works by 19 teen poets known as the Get Lit Players. With their award-winning performances of classic and spoken-word poems, they are inspiring many teens across the country.

37. More Than Friends: Poems from Him and Her by Sara Holbrook and Allan Wolf (9–12)

http://amzn.to/2Dvl6xX

This collection of poems, told through the voices of a boy and a girl, explores the mysteries of teen love, from tender beginning to “final flameout.”

38. Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the New Generation by Brett Lauer and Lynn Melnick (9–12)

http://amzn.to/2Dvl6xX

This collection features works by 100 new, young poets. Full of originality, the poems address many life events, from tragedy to bliss.

What are your favorite poetry books for kids? We’d love to hear about them in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our lists of must-share poems for elementary school and middle school.

 

Posted by Elizabeth Mulvahill

Elizabeth Mulvahill is a passionate teacher, writer and mom who loves learning new things, traveling the globe and everything Zen.

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