The Complete Guide to Reading Poetry Books to Kids, Plus: 5 Tips on Reading A Poem to/with your Kids

The Complete Guide to Reading Poetry Books to Kids

Why you should read Poetry books to kids, the benefits of reading Poetry books with children, and why Poetry is important!

Poetry is a powerful way to introduce kids to literature. One of the benefits of reading poetry books to children is that it can help them develop and improve their comprehension skills. 

Poetry is not just about words. It is about emotions, feelings and experiences that all come together in a beautiful form. This is why it is so important for children to be exposed to this form of art at an early age.

Poetry already is present in a child’s life almost as soon as they come into the world with the lullabies we sing to them and the nursery rhymes they learn to repeat. Including poetry in your children’s regular reading habits can help and enhance their interpretation and comprehension skills, the rhyming nature of some poetry can help with memory retention and can support spelling recognition. 

5 Tips on Reading A Poem to/with your Kids

Poems can be a great way to get kids interested in reading and writing.

In order to make poetry more captivating you can:

  1. Read the poem aloud.
  2. Use gestures and expressions to emphasize certain points or emotions.
  3. Tell a story about the poem as you read it.
  4. Add sound effects like clapping or tapping a drum - let them hear the rhythm of the words.
  5. Encourage kids to participate by making up their own poems on the spot.

Here are some books of poetry we have enjoyed:

Forget Me Nots

Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart by Mary Ann Hoberman and Michael Emberley

From the creators of the bestselling You Read to Me, I'll Read to You series comes this new collection of poems especially suitable for learning by heart and saying aloud. With personal introductions by former Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman -- as well as her own time-tested tips and tools for memorization and recitation -- and vivid illustrations by Michael Emberley featuring his trademark wit and lively characters, Forget-Me-Nots includes more than 120 works from both classic and contemporary poets, from childhood favorites to lesser-known treasures.

This anthology will inspire a love of learning poetry!

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silvertein

You'll meet a boy who turns into a TV set, and a girl who eats a whale. The Unicorn and the Bloath live there, and so does Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who will not take the garbage out. It is a place where you wash your shadow and plant diamond gardens, a place where shoes fly, sisters are auctioned off, and crocodiles go to the dentist.

Shel Silverstein's masterful collection of poems and drawings stretches the bounds of imagination and will be cherished by readers of all ages. This is a collection that belongs on everyone's bookshelf. Makes a great gift for special occasions such as holidays, birthdays, and graduation.

We know that this book was written at a different time and there is content in it that is dated. That said, we do believe that this presents an opportunity for a conversation with your kids. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you choose to read it with them!

Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake by Marilyn Singer,  Marjorie Priceman

This delicious collection of poems by the innovative Marilyn Singer is accompanied by vibrant splashy artwork by two-time Caldecott honoree Marjorie Priceman. Presented in a small-size format to appeal to older readers (as well as young), the book has the look of a vintage collector's compendium that includes pictures, ephemera and annotations to add interest. Even young children are familiar with recipes--a series of steps to help them make something--and the book begins with simple dishes and ideas (such as a recipe for reading a recipe and a recipe for measuring), and then adds more ideas and grows in sophistication until the last recipes broach lofty concepts (such as a recipe for understanding and a recipe for peace). A treasure of words and images and ideas.

A Celebration of the Seasons: Goodnight Songs by Margaret Wise Brown

Fluffy clouds, butterflies, furry bunnies, and life from a bug's-eye view: This stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Goodnight Songs celebrates the beauty and wonder of nature all year long. Once again, a treasure trove of Margaret Wise Brown's newly uncovered verses receives loving treatment from 12 award-winning artists, including Floyd Cooper, Peter Brown, David Small, Molly Idle, and Bob Staake. From a little bear singing one morning in May to a soft snowfall, mysterious, deep, and glowing, each song is magical. 

An accompanying CD, with lilting songs beautifully composed and sung by Emily Gary and Tom Proutt, makes this the perfect gift for children.

Celebration of Seasons
Did You Hear What I Heard?

Did You Hear What I Heard?: Poems About School by Kay Winters and Patrice Barton

Poet Kay Winters has written a book of zippy poems centering on the triumphs and trials of those first school years. This cheery collection covers an astonishing range of activities from the anticipated--dashing to the bus and science class discoveries--to the completely unexpected--losing a permission slip and seeing a teacher outside the classroom. Patrice Barton's sweetly smudgy watercolor illustrations show a wonderfully diverse class of young students, making this an ideal selection for every collection.

Feel the Beat: Dance Poems that Zing from Salsa to Swing by Marilyn Singer and Kristi Valiant

Marilyn Singer has crafted a vibrant collection of poems celebrating all forms of social dance from samba and salsa to tango and hip-hop. The rhythm of each poem mimics the beat of the dances’ steps. Together with Kristi Valiant’s dynamic illustrations, the poems create a window to all the ways dance enters our lives and exists throughout many cultures. This ingenious collection will inspire readers to get up and move!

Included with the book is an audio CD of the author reading each poem accompanied by original music from composer Jonathon Roberts.

Feel the Beat
Forgive Me I Meant to Do It

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine and Matthew Cordell

Inspired by William Carlos Williams’s famous poem ”This Is Just to Say,” Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine delivers a wickedly funny collection of her own false apology poems, imagining how tricksters really feel about the mischief they make. Matthew Cordell’s clever and playful line art lightheartedly captures the spirit of the poetry. This is the perfect book for anyone who’s ever apologized . . . and not really meant it.

Steppin’ Out: Jaunty Rhymes for Playful Times by Lin Oliver and Tomie dePaola

Being a preschooler means days full of discovery every time you step out of your door. It’s a time filled with wonder, at all the sights and sounds of the outdoors and at the huge variety of people there are to meet. This collection of nineteen original poems features little ones eager to explore, whether it’s splashing in puddles, riding in an elevator or through a car wash, or visiting the library. They go full-steam ahead to the park, the beach, and dance class, somewhat begrudgingly learn to share and get their first haircut, and enjoy lots of time with their families. Full of contagious rhythm and rhyme, this inviting picture book introduces young children to the sounds of poetry through familiar childhood activities, and beloved illustrator Tomie dePaola’s engaging children are the perfect match for Lin Oliver’s bouncy poems.

Steppin OUt
Days Like This

Days Like This: A Collection of Small Poems by Simon Janes

Days Like This is a book of celebration — whether it's the novelty of sleeping outdoors, the delight of picnicking on the beach, or the sheer joy of bouncing on the bed in the afternoon. These small poems have been carefully selected by acclaimed author-illustrator Simon James, whose expressive line and watercolors portray an everyday world overflowing with wonder and possibility. With words and pictures given space to breathe, this is a collection of poems to read and revel in from beginning to end.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin

From brave and bold to creative and clever, Emily Winfield Martin's rhythmic rhyme expresses all the loving things that parents think of when they look at their children. With beautiful, lush illustrations and a stunning gatefold that opens at the end, this is a book that families will love reading over and over. The Wonderful Things You Will Be has a loving and truthful message that will endure for lifetimes and makes a great gift to the ones you love for any occasion.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano and Julie Morstad

Flowers blooming in sheets of snow make way for happy frogs dancing in the rain. Summer swims move over for autumn sweaters until the snow comes back again. In Julie Fogliano's skilled hand and illustrated by Julie Morstad's charming pictures, the seasons come to life in this gorgeous and comprehensive book of poetry.

Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo

Have you ever imagined what you might be when you grow up? When he was very young, Juan Felipe Herrera picked chamomile flowers in windy fields and let tadpoles swim across his hands in a creek. He slept outside and learned to say good-bye to his amiguitos each time his family moved to a new town. He went to school and taught himself to read and write English and filled paper pads with rivers of ink as he walked down the street after school. And when he grew up, he became the United States Poet Laureate and read his poems aloud on the steps of the Library of Congress. If he could do all of that . . . what could you do? With this illustrated poem of endless possibility, Juan Felipe Herrera and Lauren Castillo breathe magic into the hopes and dreams of readers searching for their place in life.

No More Poems

No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse by Rhett Miller and Dan Santat

In the tradition of Shel Silverstein, these poems bring a fresh new twist to the classic dilemmas of childhood as well as a perceptive eye to the foibles of modern family life. Full of clever wordplay and bright visual gags--and toilet humor to spare--these twenty-three rhyming poems make for an ideal read-aloud experience.

Taking on the subjects of a bullying baseball coach and annoying little brothers with equally sly humor, renowned lyricist Rhett Miller's clever verses will have the whole family cackling.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope—toward America.

This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny."

An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story. This paperback edition also includes an interview with the author, an activity you can do with your family, tips on writing poetry, and discussion questions.

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and Eric Beddows

From the Newbery Medal winning author of Seedfolks, Paul Fleischman, Joyful Noise is a collection of irresistible poems that celebrates the insect world. Funny, sad, loud, and quiet, each of these poems resounds with a booming, boisterous, joyful noise.

The poems resound with the pulse of the cicada and the drone of the honeybee. Eric Beddows′s vibrant drawings send each insect soaring, spinning, or creeping off the page in its own unique way.

Paul Fleischman has created not only a fascinating guide to the insect world but an exultant celebration of life.

Love by Matt de la Peña and Loren Long

"In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.
...
A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life."

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that's soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

Love by Matt de la Pena

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