Best Poetry Books for Children

If you are looking for the best poetry books for children, we have a number of them to recommend. As children grow older, they continue to enjoy the rhythms, rhymes, and imagery to be found in poetry. Here are a variety of children's poetry books, from collections of classics and contemporary poems to poems by Latino poets, concrete poems, and poems that celebrate nature.

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Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night book cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, a 2011 John Newbery Honor Book, is a beautifully illustrated collection of nature poems by poet Joyce Sidman. The book is a striking mixture of poetry, science, and art. The relief prints of Rick Allen add dramatic impact to the poetry, which focuses on life in the woods at night. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, An Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, published Dark Emperor in 2010. The book's ISBN is 9780547152288. 

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Pieces: A Year in Poems & Quilts and Other Seasonal Poetry

Pieces, A Year in Poems and Quilts book cover

Each of the 20 poems about nature by Anna Grossnickle Hines is illustrated by a delicate and beautiful miniature quilt she created. The visual imagery in her poetry is brilliantly captured in the accompanying quilts. This is an excellent book for all ages. We can see it being read and enjoyed again and again. Hines includes an interesting section on making the quilts at the end. Greenwillow, an imprint of HarperCollins, published Pieces in 2003. The ISBN is 9780060559601.

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Books for Tweens and Teens About Writing Poetry

Cover art of A Writing Kind of Day: Poems for Young Poets by Ralph Fletcher
Boyds Mills Press

If your older elementary or middle school child enjoys writing poetry or wants to learn about writing poetry, these books may be just what they need. They include a guide to poetic forms, writing prompts, writing tips, and advice from published poets. These books would also make good gifts for poetry writing tweens and young teens.

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Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature

Outside Your Window A First Book of Nature book cover
Candlewick Press

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature is a collection of nature poems for children, organized by season, by author and zoologist Nicola Davies, with wonderful mixed media illustrations by artist Mark Hearld. Candlewick Press published the large, 108-page book in 2012. The hardcover ISBN is 9780763655495.

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A Poke in the I

Cover art for A Poke in the I book of concrete poems for children
Candlewick Press

This collection of concrete poems was edited by poet Paul B. Janeczko. The quality of the poetry, the design of the book, and the witty collages by Chris Raschka create an enjoyable experience for the reader. Because of the visual aspects of concrete poetry, it tends to be popular with kids. Janeczko has selected 30 concrete poems for the book. A Poke in the I was published by Candlewick Press in 2001 in a paperback edition and in 2005 for the hardbound edition. The ISBN is 9780763623760)

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Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers

cover art of Love to Mama children's poetry book
Lee & Low

Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers is an illustrated collection of poetry by 13 Latino writers. Both the poems and the vibrant illustrations by Paula S. Barragán M. capture the love between mother and child and between grandmother and grandchild. Lee & Low is the publisher. The book's ISBN is 9780756947767.

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A Child's Calendar

A Child's Calendar Poetry Book Cover
Holiday House

The poetry of Pulitzer prize winner John Updike and the watercolors of Caldecott Medal winner Trina Schart Hyman provide a look at a family's year in rural New England. While the poetry celebrates the seasons, the artwork shows specific activities, such as making Valentines and going on a picnic. Children will enjoy poems and illustrations that reflect a child's viewpoint. (Holiday House, 1999 Hardcover ISBN 9780823414451; 2002 Paperback ISBN: 9780823417667)

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An Egret's Day and Other Nature Poems by Jane Yolen

An Egret's Day poetry book by Jane Yolen
Boyds Mill Press

Author and poet Jane Yolen and her son, Jason Stemple, a professional photographer, collaborated on this poetry book about egrets. In addition to the poetry and photographs, supplemental information about these beautiful birds is also provided. The poems are in a number of different poetic forms. WordSong, an imprint of Boyds Mill Press, Inc., published An Egret's Day in 2010. The ISBN of the book is 9781590786505.

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The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry

The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry - Cover
Simon and Schuster

If you are looking for an illustrated collection of poetry from a wide variety of poets that includes both serious and humorous poems children will enjoy, we recommend The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry. The fact that the book also includes illustrations from a variety of illustrators adds to the fun. The anthology was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2008. The ISBN of the hardcover book is 9781416939719.

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In Every Tiny Grain of Sand

Book cover of In Every Tiny Grain of Sand: A Child's Book of Prayers and Praise
Candlewick Press

In Every Tiny Grain of Sand: A Child's Book of Prayers and Praise, is a large picture book with four sections, each of which features illustrations by a different illustrator. The poms and prayer are by many different authors and come from a wide range of cultures and religions, including Christian, Muslin, Jewish, Hindu, Native American, African-American, and many others. Candlewick Press published the book in 2000. The ISBN is 9780763601768.

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Good Sports

Good Sports, A Children's Poetry Book by Jack Prelutsky, Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books

As the subtitle of Good Sports states, this children's poetry book by Jack Prelutsky contains rhymes about running, jumping, throwing and more. Through his poetry, Prelutsky celebrates winning and losing, playing well and not ​playing well, and enjoying a sport whether you are good at it or not. Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, published the book in 2007. The ISBN is 9780375837005.

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The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury

Well-known children's poet Jack Prelutsky did an excellent job in selecting the more than 200 poems by 137 poets in this collection. The joyous watercolors by Meilo So help to tie the poems, which are organized by theme, together. The subjects range from nature to siblings, school, and everyday life. This is a lively and interesting collection. (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. ISBN: 9780679893141)

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Kennedy, Elizabeth. "Best Poetry Books for Children." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Kennedy, Elizabeth. (2023, April 5). Best Poetry Books for Children. Retrieved from Kennedy, Elizabeth. "Best Poetry Books for Children." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).