14 best poetry books for kids of all ages

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If you’re tired of reading the same books over and over again at bedtime, consider not just adding new books to your kids’ library, but a whole new genre. These poetry books for kids of all ages are a fun way to shake things up. From a collection of classic poems by poets like Shakespeare, Dickinson and Frost (yes, it turns out they can be adapted for children) to more contemporary authors like Shel Silverstein or Naomi Shihab Nye, there is something you will love about this list. Most of the books also have beautiful illustrations to keep kids engaged and excited.

While it’s really fun to read rhyming books out loud (and listen to them), not all of the books on the list rhyme. Some are haiku, some are free form, some use the words on the page to create funky shapes. And regardless of your personal views on poetry, you might be surprised at how fun and accessible children’s poems can be.

One of the benefits of reading poetry with your children is that it teaches them so much more than language. They will also learn and hear rhythm, pitch and cadence. It may even inspire them to write their own poetry. Read on for some of the best children’s poetry books.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Romper’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

1

A book of haiku for children

Follow a young girl as she walks through a lush Japanese garden. The illustrations in A leaf rides the wind are absolutely beautiful and even if you think children’s poetry books are rhyming, this one introduces kids to the art of haiku (so three sentences, the first five syllables, the second seven and the third five again ). Inside you will find 11 haikus which are perfect for first readers as they are concise.

2

A classic poetry book for children

You probably know Shel Silverstein (he wrote the tearjerker who is The tree that gives), but otherwise, prepare to be surprised. These poems rhyme, they’re short with a fun-to-read-aloud rhythm, and each is illustrated in Silverstein’s signature quirky style. Every children’s bookshelf should include a copy of where the sidewalk ends which is filled with funny and relatable characters like a girl who refuses to take out the trash or someone else who is “too sick” to go to school.

3

A poetry book about nature for children aged 3 to 7

This evocative children’s poetry book guides readers through a summer day outdoors. Written as a riddle with a rhyme scheme, the book lets children guess what animal, plant or weather the author is describing. A new green day will take your child off the beaten path with puzzles like “Who doodles on the sidewalk with glittering ink? The answer? Snail.

The book was released in 2020 and was named The Editors’ WeeklyBest book of the year.”

4

A children’s poetry book that celebrates brown skin

With absolutely gorgeous illustrations and prose, this book will quickly become a favorite in your home. It’s a celebration of all the beauty in brown color from henna milk tea to topazes and desert sand. By glorifying brown, the book also celebrates people of color around the world. Tan in Tamarin came out in 2009 but it stands the test of time and seems very relevant today.

One reviewer said: “My daughter (4) absolutely loved this book. The poems are simply beautiful. We live 74% Caucasian in Portland, OR. And it was hard for my daughter to imagine other children who looked like her. This book really breaks through in acknowledging all the nuances among minorities. We also love Malathi’s account of her own experience of being brunette at the end of the book. It made my daughter realize that she wasn’t alone as we compared our brown hands before going to bed.

5

A Nat Geo photo and poetry book

You can’t go wrong with a children’s poetry book from National geographic. Besides some really amazing and vivid animal photos (it’s Nat Geo after all), animal ark features poems that celebrate the national world by award-winning author Newbery Kwame Alexander. There are over 40 photographs and the book will inspire children to be stewards of the earth. One reviewer said: “This book is truly amazing. After seeing the Photo Ark exhibit at National Geographic here in DC, he was sure the photos would be amazing, and they are… But with the addition of the Haiku – such a perfect combination with such beautiful messages!”

6

A rhyming book for children

It’s really fun to read a rhyme book out loud and The llama who had no pajamas is no exception. The book came out in 2006, but it has stood the test of time as it covers tons of fun topics (not just llamas), but also animals, birthdays, family, play, and more. With over 100 poems inside, this one keeps kids interest for a while, and all the poems rhyme so it’s super catchy.

One reviewer said, “Hoberman is a master. This collection is a pure pleasure to read; really, there are no failures. Many are funny, some are poignant. The poet’s love for language and the care with which she handles it are evident. All of my children have many favorites; we come back to this book again and again.

7

A book of classic children’s poems

If you recognize the style of illustration on the cover of The Random House Poetry Book for Children it’s probably because the book was illustrated by Arnold Lobel, who also illustrated the iconic series, frog and toad. This poetry book for children will also delight adults; it is full of classic poets like Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and more contemporary poets like ee cummings and Shel Silverstein. The huge 572 poems are divided into sections like “I’m hungry!” (poems about food) and “The Four Seasons” (poems about weather). If you only want to get one poetry book for your kids, this is a solid choice.

8

A poetry book for elementary school children

It’s not a cookbook per se, but rather a recipe book for more than just food. Inside Get the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake, there are more literal recipes like “Recipe For Success In Cooking” which briefly explains how to make scrambled eggs and offers the timeless advice that “things taste better when you’re happy.” Then there are more metaphorical recipes like “Recipe For Adventure” and “Recipe For Patience”.

9

A children’s poetry book that celebrates the color black

This book, written in rhyming verse, celebrates all things black in color. From a feather on the snow to the color of the protagonist’s best friend’s braids to a pencil in a box, Black is a rainbow color is an ode not just to literal color, but to black people. This book has won several awards, including A New York Public Library Best Book of 2020.

The illustrations are stunning and vivid, and the verse is powerful and fun to read because it rhymes.

ten

A collection of poems for young and old

Young and old alike will enjoy Poems to learn by heart. This charming book includes over 100 poems by classic and contemporary poets, including Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Gwendolyn Brooks and many more. Some are very short and some are medium in length, and whether or not you and your children memorize them or read them at night, they will become house favorites.

One reviewer said, “Another beautiful book by Caroline Kennedy! Again, she managed to put together some wonderful poems for us to enjoy. The same artist, Jon J. Muth, also added many of his beautiful watercolors to the pages of this extraordinary anthology. Every page is a delight.

11

A book of poems for two people to read together

Written with children ages 8-12 in mind, this poetry book designed to be read in two voices is a fun way to connect with your child. cries of joy mimics insect sounds including cicadas, bees, mayflies and more. It could technically be read solo but two voices make this one sing.

One reviewer said, “Taking turns reading a poem with a child brings great joy to both adult and child. The interaction of the two voices in different forms goes beyond the experience of just reading poetry. It is a celebration of language with nature as the subject.

12

A poetry book for preschoolers

Preschoolers and toddlers will love this fun poetry book where the words on each page are arranged to look like an animal, building or something else they’ll recognize. The illustrations in doodle dandies are bright and catchy and the poems don’t rhyme, so kids can grasp all the ways poetry can exist.

13

A poetry book for preschoolers

For starters, the illustrations in this book are so beautiful you might be tempted to frame them. Magnificent day! is a soothing journey through the seasons. The verse is simple enough for young children to try to read on their own, and they’ll have fun taking a journey with the little girl in the book as she explores winter, spring, summer and autumn. Also, because the poems are all “small”, it’s a good time to read a few pages when your child asks for one more story before bedtime.

14

A Poetry Book for Tweens and Teens

From Young Person Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye comes this superb book of poetry that older children will devour. It’s a rumination on all sorts of things humans “throw away” (hence the title) from plastic water bottles to lost mittens to the homeless. With over 80 new poems (as of 2021), Castaway packs an emotional punch and will be the start of important conversations between parents and children.

If you’re in a book rut, try adding these children’s poetry books to the repertoire. Not only are they fun to read (and your child may even memorize some of the shorter poems quickly, thanks to the rhythmic quality), but they will expose your child to a whole new genre.


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