12 Diverse and Creative Poetry Books for Kids

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Poetry books come ripe with creativity. They contain just enough logic mixed with abstract ideas, diversity, wordplay, and explore a range of emotions that can open the door for children everywhere. Sparking a child’s interest in books can become life-changing.

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As children devour books, they explore lands near and far, learn how to become adventurers, critically think, analyze and comprehend things far beyond what they make come into contact with in their day to day lives.

The wrong books can bore children, but the right books can become a spark that ignites their love of reading at an early age — children who begin reading early and develop a love for reading become uniquely advantaged. There are tons of poetry books for kids, some you may have never thought of to feature in your library or recommend to a child.

For teachers looking for poetry books for kids to include in lesson plans, we’ve got you covered too. Check out our guide below for books that will get your kids excited about literature and poetry.

A) Poetry Books for Elementary School Students

From whimsical to divers, elementary school-aged children will love these top 3 picks!

1. The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time by Jan Peck, ages 5-9

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The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time

This book of poems takes the classic Mother Goose and twists it. This parody includes lines like Little Jack Horner / Changed bulbs in the corner” that put a conservation and healthy living spin on classic tails. The author didn’t leave out the familiarity of Mother Goose but instead added in more interesting details.

What Kids Will Love

  • Familiar nursery rhymes and children’s songs
  • Whimsical
  • Promotes healthy living

2. Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking by Alan Katz, Ages 7-11

Poems I Wrote When No One Was Looking

As children dive into this book of poems with lines like, “I don’t like the ampersand. / You can’t hold it in your h&” that kids in older elementary school ages can experiment with wordplay. This smart book makes an excellent feature to introduce abstract ideas to the older primary aged child.

What Kids Will Love

  • Fun wordplay
  • Clever and funny rhymes
  • Casual tone

3. A Stick is an Excellent Thing by Marilyn Singer, Ages 3-8

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

Creativity and imagination are highlighted in this book. The author writes, “what an ordinary stick in hand can become—a royal scepter, pen, magic wand, drumstick.” This book takes the “stick’s and stone’s” nursery rhymes and turns them into a fast-moving tale of the imagination.

What Kids Will Love

  • Descriptions of outdoor activities
  • Flowing lyrics
  • Engaging imagination

B) Poetry Books for Middle School Students

From whimsical to divers, middle school-aged children will love these top 3 picks!

1. Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from A Single Word by Bob Raczka, Ages 8-12

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Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word

As students experience growth and development, these poetry books will spark their interest and guide them into new territory. Check out our top 3 favorites!

What Kids Will Love

  • Short, lyric forms
  • Helps children experience the depth of language
  • Challenging spatial lettering throughout the book

2. Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango, Ages 8-12

Under the Mambo Moon

“Papi says you can read people’s souls by the music they listen to; that hearts fly home when the music’s Just Right.” This line emphasizes the free-verse poems contained in this book that tell the story of Marisol’s father’s music store and the characters she will meet along the way.

What Kids Will Love

  • Intertwined musical styles
  • Rhyming and concrete poems
  • Latin American History in the author’s note

3. Weird? (Me, Too!) Let’s Be Friends by Sara Holbrook, Ages 8-12

Weird? (Me, Too!) Let's Be Friends

“Some friends will dare danger, / mock or push each step. / Some friends / knock your confidence. / Real friends / form a net.” In this collection of poems, kids will learn about true friendships, the meaning behind behaviors they’re experiencing, and much. More.

What Kids Will Love

  • Quirky verses
  • Light-hearted but reaching for more profound meaning
  • Playful in expressing friendships

C) Poetry Anthologies for Kids

Anthologies can be great resources for teachers and librarians because they’re diverse and have something for everyone in the classroom. Check out our favorite three collections.

1. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky, Ages 5 to 11

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The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

A teacher’s dream, this anthology contains 572 short poems from contemporary and classic poets. The book’s 14 categories can help break up lesson planning while keeping kids interested in poetry.

What Kids Will Love

  • Easily categorized to choose favorite topics
  • Nonsense, food, silly, and anonymous rhymes
  • Emphasis on fun and humor

2. Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems by E.E. Cummings, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Shel Silverstein Ages 4 to 9

Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child 's Book of Poems (hc): Every Child's Book Of Poems

This collection of 100 poems was hand-picked and illustrated with care to bring each poem to life. There are some classics like “The Gingerbread Man,” mixed in with other well-known poets, and they’re arranged within themes. For those looking for something to keep as part of a collection, this anthology is a top choice.

What Kids Will Love

  • Illustrations dramatize the collection of poems
  • Classics and familiar favorites
  • Includes poems from diverse cultures across the world

3. Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People, All Ages

Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People

In this oversized collection of poems, the Metropolitan Museum of Art pairs beautiful paintings with poems that will spark any reader’s interest in poetry.

What Kids Will Love

  • Brings art and poetry together
  • Includes Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and other classic artists
  • An oversized anthology for collectors

D) Emotional, Diverse, Adverse Poetry for Kids

For some less traditional inspiration, check out our favorite poetry books for kids that are diverse, emotional, or adverse.

1. Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips, Ages 14 and up

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Fishtailing

This book, written in verse novel tells the story of four teens facing adversity, falling in and out of love, peppered with violence. There’s a biracial teen, a cutter, a girl with a violent past, and a musician. Phillips uses provocative poetry to intertwine the lives of the characters.

What Kids Will Love

  • Edgy, relatable characters
  • Drama
  • Familiar school setting

2. When We Were Countries: Poems and Stories by Outstanding High School Writers, Ages 14 and up

When We Were Countries: Poems and Stories by Outstanding High School Writers

Teens can feel inspired by reading the short essays, stories, and poems of other students their age. The contributors wrote diverse stories about topics from family troubles to thoughts on Hollywood. The pieces are insightful and at times, humorous. The parts were taken from the high-school section of Hanging Loose Magazine, hopefully inspiring teens to develop their writing skills and submit their work.

What Kids Will Love

  • Written by students at the same age
  • Familiar perspectives
  • Encourages teens to develop their writing skills

3. The Year of Goodbyes by Debbie Levy, Ages 10 and up

The Year of Goodbyes: A true story of friendship, family and farewells

This is the true story of 12-year-old Jutta (the author’s mother) and her escape to America just before the time of World War II. As the holocaust went on, Jutta’s relatives and friends are introduced in each chapter in verse form, telling of her experiences. The author wrote this book alongside her mother to capture her voice during a year of goodbyes.

What Kids Will Love

  • A historical tale
  • A more challenging read
  • Twists and turns along the way

Conclusion

Books of poetry have the potential to engage readers of any age. From young children not yet in school to children through their high school years and beyond – Poetry is art that takes many forms and reflects an author’s unique style and perspective.

Introducing books of poetry to children can help them develop a life-long love of reading, let them explore their abilities, and be challenged with new depths of language. Teachers, choose books that ignite the fire of learning within your students. Friends and relatives choose books that will peak your children interested but challenge them to try something new.

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