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14 Poetry Books For Kids Of All Ages

From classics to haikus, these poetry books deserve a spot on your kid’s shelf.

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If you’re tired of reading the same books over and over at bedtime, consider not only 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. Whether it’s a collection of classic poems from poets like Shakespeare, Dickinson, and Frost (yep, it turns out these can be kid-friendly) to more contemporary authors like Shel Silverstein or Naomi Shihab Nye, there’s something you’ll love on this list. Most of the books also have beautiful illustrations to keep kids engaged and excited.

While it’s really fun to reading rhyming books aloud (and to to listen to them) not all of the books on the list rhyme. Some are haikus, some are freeform, others use the words on the page to create funky shapes. And whatever your personal opinions on poetry are, you may be surprised to see how fun and accessible poems for kids can be.

One of the cool things about reading poetry with your kids is that is teaches them about a whole lot more than language. They’ll 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 poetry books for kids.

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A book of haikus for kids

Follow along with a young girl as she makes her way through a lush Japanese garden. The illustrations in One Leaf Rides The Wind are absolutely gorgeous and while you may think of poetry books for kids as rhyming, this one introduces children to the art of haiku (so three sentences, the first five syllables, the second seven, and third five again). Inside you’ll find 11 haikus which are great for early readers because they’re concise.


A classic kids’ poetry book

You’re probably familiar with Shel Silverstein (he wrote the tearjerker that is The Giving Tree), but if not, prepare to be amazed. These poems rhyme, they’re short with a fun rhythm to read aloud, and each one is illustrated in Silverstein’s signature quirky style. Every kids’ 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 the garbage out or someone else who is “too sick” for school.


A poetry book about nature for kids ages 3-7

This evocative poetry book for kids walks readers through a summer day outside. Written in riddle form with a rhyme scheme, the book lets kids guess what animal, plant, or weather the author is describing. A New Green Day will have your child thinking outside the box with riddles like “Who scribbles on the sidewalk with glistening ink?” The answer? Snail.

The book came out in 2020 and was named a Publishers Weekly “Best Book of the Year.”


A poetry book for kids that celebrates brown skin

With absolutely gorgeous illustrations and prose, this book will quickly become a fave in your house. It’s a celebration of all the beauty of the color brown from milky tea to henna to topaz stones and desert sand. By glorifying brown, the book also celebrates people of color throughout the world. Tan to Tamarind came out in 2009 but it stands the test of time and feels quite relevant today.

One reviewer said, “My daughter (4) absolutely loved this book. The poems are just simply beautiful. We live in 74% Caucasian Portland, OR. And it was hard for my daughter to even imagine other kids who look like her. This book really breaks through in recognizing all the shades among minorities. We also love Malathi's account of her own experience being brown at the end of the book. It made my daughter realize she is not alone, as we compared our brown hands before going off to bed.”


A Nat Geo photo & poetry book

You can’t go wrong with a poetry book for kids from National Geographic. In addition to the truly amazing and vivid animal photos (it’s Nat Geo afterall), Animal Ark features poems that celebrate the national world by by Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander. There are over 40 photographs and the book will inspire kids 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, it was a given the photos would be extraordinary, and they are... But then with the addition of the Haiku - such a perfect combination with such beautiful messages!”


A rhyming book for kids

It’s really fun to read a rhyming book aloud and The Llama Who Had No Pajama is no exception. The book was released in 2006 but it’s stood the test of time as it covers tons of fun topics (not just llamas) but animals, birthdays, family, playing, and more. With over 100 poems inside, this one keeps kids’ interest for awhile, and all the poems rhyme so it’s super catchy.

One reviewer said, “Hoberman is a master. This collection is a sheer delight to read; truly, there are no duds. Many are funny, some are poignant. The poet's love of the language and the care with which she handles it are obvious. All of my children have numerous favorites; we come back to this book over and over.”


A book of classic poems for children

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


A poetry book for elementary school kids

This isn’t a cookbook, per se, but instead a recipe book for much more than food. Inside Follow the Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, and Cake, there are more literal recipes like “Recipe For Success In Cooking” which briefly talks about how to make scrambled eggs, and offers the timeless advice that, “things taste best when you are cheerful.” Then there are more metaphorical recipes like “Recipe For Adventure” and “Recipe For Patience.”


A poetry book for kids that celebrates the color black

This book, written in rhyming verse, celebrates all things the color Black. From a feather resting on snow to the color of the protagonist’s best friend’s braids to a crayon in a box, Black Is A Rainbow Color is an ode not only to the literal color but to Black people. This book 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.


A book of poems for kids and adults

Kids and adults alike will appreciate Poems To Learn By Heart. This lovely book includes over 100 poems from classic and contemporary poets including Langston Hughes, William Shakespeare, Gwendolyn Brooks, and so many more. Some are very short and some are medium in length, and whether or not you and your kids learn these by heart or read them at night, they’re going to become household favorites.

One reviewer said, “Another beautiful book by Caroline Kennedy! Again, she has managed to collect wonderful poems for us to enjoy. The same artist, Jon J. Muth, has also added more of his beautiful watercolor paintings to the pages of this extraordinary anthology. Each page is a delight.”


A book of poems for two people to read together

Written with 8 to 12 year olds in mind, this poetry book designed for two voices to read together is a fun way to connect with your child. Joyful Noise imitates insect sounds including cicada, honeybee, mayflies and more. It could technically be read solo but two voices makes this one sing.

One reviewer said, “Reading a poem in a turn-taking fashion with a child brings great joy for adult and child. The interplay of the two voices in different forms goes beyond the experience of simple poetry reading. This is a celebration of language with nature as the subject.”


A poetry book for preschoolers

Preschoolers and younger kids will adore this fun book of poetry where the words on each page are arranged to look like a different animal, building, or something else they’ll recognize. The illustrations in Doodle Dandies are bright and eye-catching and the poems don’t rhyme, so kids can grasp all the ways poetry can exist.


A poetry book for kindergarteners

For starters, the illustrations in this book are so beautiful you may be tempted to frame them. Beautiful Day! is a calming journey through the seasons. The verse is simple enough that younger kids can try to read it themselves, and they’ll have fun going on a journey with the little girl in the book as she explores winter, spring, summer and fall. Plus because the poems are all “petite” this is a good one to read a few pages of when your kid asks for one more story before bed.


A poetry book for tweens & teens

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

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

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