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Books of Poetry for Kids

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: April 25, 2012

Beautiful Dreamers

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.

Every Thing On It

By Shel Silverstein

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

A Stick Is An Excellent Thing

By Marilyn Singer; Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

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

Water Sings Blue

By Kate Coombs; Illustrated by Meilo So

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

Forget-Me-Nots (Poems to Learn by Heart)

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

Out of This World: Poems and Facts About Space 

By Amy E. Sklansky; Illustrated by Stacey Schuett

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

Japanese Nursery Rhymes Carp Streamers, Falling Rain and Other Traditional Favorites

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

I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus

By Jack Prelutsky and more than 100 poems illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic

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

Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking 

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 the Sea

By David Elliott; Illustrated by Holly Meade

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

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems

By Gail Carson Levine; Illustrated by Matthew Cordell

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.

Nicki Richesin is a freelance writer and editor based in San Francisco. She writes personal essays and pieces on lifestyle, parenting, and pop culture for Sunset, DuJour, 7×7, Daily Candy, and The Huffington Post. She is also the author and editor of The May Queen, Because I Love Her, What I Would Tell Her, and Crush. You can find her online at <a href="http://www.nickirichesin.com">http://www.nickirichesin.com</a>

Comments
  • This is a great list of books in print. I would have liked to have seen a book by X. J. Kennedy listed. His children’s poetry is excellent. In fact his work inspired me to write Blats, which is an e-book available a for kindle.

    January 25, 2013

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