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 check out some poetry books for kids and teens. We’ve gathered 40 of our favorite poetry books for kids in grades pre-K through high school. All can be used as mentor texts—some even include teaching tips and examples. From celebrations of the natural world, to tender coming-of-age poems, to plenty of hilariously silly options, there’s something on this list for everyone.
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Best Poetry Books for Kids in the Primary Grades
1. The Jackie Morris Book of Classic Nursery Rhymes by Jackie Morris (PreK-2)
Share all the traditional nursery rhymes you remember from childhood with your young students with this beautifully-illustrated treasury. The introduction makes a great case for continuing to share nursery rhymes with kids in today’s world, too.
2. Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (PreK-2)
When Daniel sees a sign for “Poetry in the Park,” he asks, “What is poetry?” His experiences provide an answer, lots of sample poetic lines, and a great entry point into writing poetry for young students.
3. 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.
4. A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis (K-3)
Each turn of a page reveals the subject of a short but powerful verse about an item 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 poetry-filled walk around their city neighborhood. Check out this blog post from the author for helpful poetry teaching tips.
6. 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.
7. The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman (1–4)
A delightful trove of poetry that covers many topics—animals, family, play, and silliness.
8. Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration & Cake by Marilyn Singer (1–5)
This poetry collection uses the contexts of cooking and enjoying food to share vibrant poems on a variety of themes. We especially love “Recipe for Disaster” and “Recipe for Memories.” So many curriculum possibilities here!
9. Soccerverse: Poems About Soccer by Elizabeth Steinglass (1-5)
Do your students think poetry isn’t for them? Convince them with a collection of poems about a favorite topic. This collection has so much playful, smart, poetic language about everything soccer, from missing shin guards to persistence.
10. Ice! Poems About Polar Life by Douglas Florian (1-5)
Douglas Florian is a master at creating clever, punny imagery in his poems for kids. This fun collection teaches kids about the landscape and animals of the North and South Poles while also building 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. Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl (1–5)
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 andDirty 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 delightful poems.
14. Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy (1-4)
This celebration of blackness, written in verse, can be enjoyed for both its poetic language and content. Show students how poems can convey crucial messages in beautiful ways.
15. Spi-Ku: A Clutter of Short Verse on Eight Legs by Leslie Bulion (2-5)
Got spider enthusiasts in your class? Hook them on poetry with this hybrid collection of nonfiction information and catchy verses about every kind of arachnid you can imagine. Yikes!
16. Science Verse by Jon Scieszka (2–5)
A collection on the poetry of science is a rare find. This book is highly entertaining and will also get your students thinking creatively.
17. Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems for Children and Their Parents by Judith Viorst (2–6)
The title of this collection perfectly sets the tone for these impressive poems that tackle the trials of childhood.
18. Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxanne Orgill (2–7)
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.
19. Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman (2–7)
A classroom favorite! These two-part poems are perfect for poetry lovers and reluctant beginners alike.
20. A Poke in the I: A Collection of Concrete Poems edited by Paul B. Janeczko (1–4)
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.
21. Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka (3–6)
Another charming collection to add to your upper elementary classroom library.
22. It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles by Jack Prelutsky (K–5)
Jack Prelutsky is a master of the silly, tongue-twisting, giggle-inducing poetry that kids love.
23. Once I Laughed My Socks Off by Steve Attewell (2–5)
This fun collection encourages reluctant young readers to enjoy poetry and marvel at the wonder of words.
24. Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka (K–3)
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.”
25. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano (K–5)
This collection is filled with colorful images of nature. It also features poems that express the emotions evoked by the changing seasons.
Best Poetry Books for Kids in Upper Elementary and Middle School
26. My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness by Georgie Heard (3-8)
Poetry and mindfulness fit together so nicely. Teach both with this unique book from a top-notch children’s poet.
27. Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan (3–8)
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.
28. My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney (3–8)
Full of humor and surprises, 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 sampling of poetry from the 19th century through today. It also features a wide variety of types, styles, and themes for students to explore.
30. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms compiled by Paul B. Janeczko (3–9)
This collection includes a variety of poems and a guidebook to teaching poetic forms. It also explains 29 forms and gives great examples.
31. Hip Hop Speaks 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 poetry and beats will resonate with readers.
Best Poetry Books for Kids in High School
32. Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (9–12)
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.
33. Technically, It’s Not My Fault: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (9–12)
Eleven-year-old Robert voices his observations and thoughts in this middle school-focused collection of concrete poems.
34. Poetry Speaks Who I Am: Poems of Discovery, Inspiration, Independence and Everything Else edited by Elise Paschen (9–12)
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?
35. I Just Hope It’s Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy edited by Liz Rosenberg and Deena November (9–12)
An honest collection of poems that addresses the vast emotions teenagers experience.
36. Voices in the Air by Naomi Shihab Nye (9–12)
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.
37. Poems from Homeroom: A Writer’s Place to Start by Kathi Appelt (9–12)
This guidebook, filled with creative writing exercises and original poems, is a great teaching tool. It will also encourage teens to write poetry about their lives.
38. Get Lit Rising: Words Ignite. Claim Your Poem. Claim Your Life. by Diane Luby Lane and the Get Lit Players (9–12)
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.
39. More Than Friends: Poems from Him and Her by Sara Holbrook and Allan Wolf (9–12)
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.”
40. Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the New Generation by Brett Lauer and Lynn Melnick (9–12)
This collection features works by 100 new, young poets. Full of originality, the poems address many life events, from tragedy to bliss.
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Plus, check out our lists of must-share poems for elementary school and middle school.
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