Are These Must-Have Poetry Books for Kids on Your Shelves?

Words are magic.

Reading and having poetry read to you can make you feel like the magician – you see and hear and feel the words move – bouncing, playing, soothing.

Through poetry my children have been soothed at the night, calmed when upset, learned memorization, understood words I’ve had to look up (like “counterpane”), recreated favorite characters (the Knight whose armor did not squeak) and laughed out loud (many, many times). And — coolest of all — been inspired to compose their own poems. (Ok, sometimes they just rhyme things with “poop.”)

How do you like to go up in a swing, 
   Up in the air so blue? 
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing 
   Ever a child can do!
-Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Swing

Every time I read this verse, I think, “This is childhood.” I love it so much, I named my blog “The Pleasantest Thing”.

Erica from What Do We Do All Day? put together a book list of poetry for kids that I know you will love. After you check out this list, be sure to visit her site to check out her book lists (over 200!) as well as inspiring activities for curious kids.

poetry for kids

I’m so pleased to share a poetry book list with The Pleasantest Thing readers. I read a lot of books to my kids, but in the beginning I didn’t read much poetry. It took a concerted effort on my part to include poems for kids in our reading regimen because I simply didn’t know many poems. However, I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to read poems with my children.

The following books are collections of poems we have especially enjoyed. April is National Poetry Month so it’s a perfect time to get started. Do you have any favorite poems from your childhood?

(Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links are used below)

poetry for kids
The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury. For parents looking for a comprehensive contemporary collection (say that three times fast!) of poetry, this treasury is the way to go. Poets such as Yolen, Milne, Nash, Prelutsky, Frost, Hughes, Grimes and many others make up the 211 poems selected. Many of the poems are lesser known, but wonderful choices.

poetry for kids
A Child’s Garden of Verses. There are several illustrated versions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic poetry collection that was first published in 1885. I am partial to this one with pictures by Gyo Fujikawa because it was the one I had as a kid. It was also the very first book she illustrated!

poetry for kids
When We Were Very Young. A. A. Milne is best known for Winnie-the-Pooh, of course, but don’t forget about his poetry books! These are poems that are appreciated equally by adults and children. [Ed. note: This is one of the books we frequently give as gifts. Kids love it!]

poems for kids
My Very First Mother Goose. Every kid needs a Mother Goose book. Children’s illustrator extraordinaire, Rosemary Wells brings her signature style to this curated collection, which includes both familiar and not-so-well known traditional Mother Goose rhymes. This book is visually appealing because the text is large and no more than 2 poems are on any given page, making it a great book to share with a lap sitter.

poems for kids
Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young. This is a collection of a variety of poems from nursery rhymes to traditional poems. This would be a great first poetry book for new parents who want to start reading poetry to their babies and toddlers. Illustrations are by Marc Brown.

poems for kids
Red Sings from Treetops. This beautifully illustrated picture book was a Caldecott honor book in 2010. Poems create surprising connections between colors, seasons and sensory experiences.

poems for kids
The New Kid on the Block. Jack Prelutsky is one of my all time favorite poets. His inventive, amusing, intelligent and utterly delightful poems will make kids both laugh and think. He’s written more than 50 volumes of work and this one was the first that catapulted his work into the public’s attention. He was also the first Children’s Poet Laureate of the United States. Every child should have at least one volume of Prelutsky’s poetry on his bookshelf.

poems for kids
A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems. Concrete poems are poems which have shape. Think of a poem about a tree in the shape of a tree. My son loved this collection and laughed heartily at many of the selections. Concrete poems are best for kids who have some reading ability so they can understand the relationship between the words and the shape.

poems for kids
Where the Sidewalk Ends. I feel a great deal of affection for Shel Silverstein’s poems since his work is associated with my generation. This is a must have book of clever, funny rhyming nonsense that every child will relate to.

profile g+250 bw1 125Erica (aka “Mom and Kiddo”) is a SAHM to two very rowdy boys who love to read. She blogs at What Do We Do All Day? where she shares a new book list every Monday, like her popular 50+ Chapter Books to Read Aloud to Preschoolers, easy indoor activities that her kids have tested out in their tiny apartment and fun learning ideas for kids. You can connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest or .


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