In celebration of National Poetry Month, we’ve hand-picked ten many-splendored new books. Children are born loving poetry from the moment they form their first babbling words to when they begin to tackle more complex rhythms and tongue twisters. As they acquire language and enjoy how it rolls off their tongues, they also gain an appreciation for the beauty of creative expression. Nothing quite tops that moment when they learn to recite their first nursery rhyme. So leave a poem in your child’s pocket and help him discover the appeal of modern poetry.
If you’re like most of us, you may have grown up with Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, or The Giving Tree on your childhood bookshelf. Master wordsmith and doodler Shel Silverstein invented laugh-out-loud silly rhymes for us to endlessly ponder. Every Thing On It has been posthumously published as a new collection of his irreverent poems and characters drawn with his trademark squiggly offhand style. It’s a great joy to share his nonsense poems with a new generation to puzzle over and love for years to come.
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 20, 2011
What a winning combination Pham’s playful illustrations and Singer’s amusing verse make in this lovely poetry collection. Bouncing rhyme and pictures of active children at play ensure even the most poetry-adverse child will warm to its magical delights. As Singer’s light-handed verse concludes, “A stick is an excellent thing if you find the perfect one.” We’ve certainly found the perfect book of poetry in this one. For more on LeUyen Pham, check out our interview with her.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | February 28, 2012
In her first book of poetry, Kate Coombs takes us on a voyage under the sea. Meilo So’s evocative watercolor paintings are so lovely they seem to belong on a wall rather than hidden in a book. The pleasure of reading Water Sings Blue lies in its wordplay, but also in imagining the sea creatures Coombs magically describes with such whimsy and wonder. Chronicle Books is on a roll this spring.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | March 14, 2012
Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman; Illustrated by Michael Emberley
National treasure and former U.S. poet laureate Mary Ann Hoberman has compiled a heartwarming selection of poems for all ages. A few highlights include “Soup” by Carl Sandburg, “The Secret Song” by Margaret Wise Brown, and “If-ing” by Langston Hughes. This tender anthology is one you’ll want to add to your personal library.
Ages 1-18 |Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | April 3, 2012
Poetry in space doesn’t immediately call to mind beautiful verse, but this book will definitely expand your horizons. I can’t quite put my finger on why it appeals to children, but it has captured my daughter’s imagination. Each poem is accompanied by additional scientific facts and explanations in the margins. Sklansky’s poems like “Stargazing” promise the wonders of the universe and Schuett’s cosmic paintings are dazzling too.
Ages 5-9 | Publisher: Random House Children’s Books | February 14, 2012
By Danielle Wright; Illustrated by Helen Acraman
Danielle Wright first began collecting nursery rhymes from around the world for her son in 2005. In this colorful collection of fifteen verses, she includes an audio CD with children and parents singing along in both Japanese and English. Helen Acraman’s delightful illustrations perfectly complement the songs and bring them to life.
Ages 3-6 | Publisher: Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd | March 10, 2012
Our nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky’s brain is unbelievable. Coupled with Jackie Urbanovic’s artwork, it’s a laugh-a-minute poetry extravaganza. We highly recommend this one for children interested in real and imaginary animals like the wiguana- a furry lizard.
Ages 5-10 | Publisher: HarperCollins | March 13, 2012
By Alan Katz; With drawings by Edward Koren
One wonders what Mr. Katz does when people are looking, yodel perhaps? With poems like “I Had a Bad Coif,” “Using My Noodle,” “The Matter is Clothed,” “Mom and Pop(corn),” you’ll find a master of pun and fun at work. New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren’s illustrations are almost too much. Bravo and encore, we want more!
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books | October 25, 2011
In this companion edition to On the Farm and In the Wild, David Elliott and Holly Meade reunite to explore the wonders of the deep blue sea. Meade’s gorgeous woodcut illustrations belong in a museum. A favorite poem is “The Sea Turtle” for the lines, “Swims the seven seas/ for thirty years,/ then finds the beach/ where she was born–/ by magic, it appears./ How can she know to come upon/ that far and sandy place?” What a sweet lullaby poem to lull your child to sleep.
Ages 3-5 | Publisher: Candlewick Press | February 14, 2012
This is just to say, Gail Carson Levine, I have devoured your false apology poems which are funny and dark. You were probably expecting a starred review for you and Matthew. Forgive me, your poems were delicious, so perverse and so true. *****
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | March 13, 2012
Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies The May Queen, Because I Love Her, What I Would Tell Her, and Crush. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Daily Candy, 7×7, Red Tricycle, and San Francisco Book Review. Nicki has been reading to her daughter every day since she was born. For more information, visit: www.nickirichesin.com.
About the Author (Author Profile)The Children’s Book Review, named one of the ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) Great Web Sites for Kids, is a resource devoted to children’s literacy. We publish reviews and book lists of the best books for kids of all ages. We also produce author and illustrator interviews and share literacy based articles that help parents, grandparents, teachers and librarians to grow readers.
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