This post has been far more difficult to write than I could have imagined! The world is so full of wonderful poetry books - how can I choose? And I can't just drop a title and author because I want to tell you everything that is so wonderful about them. Actually, I'd love for you to just join us for Poetry Teatime so that I could read them all to you. But, 100+ poetry books? We might be there a while.
You might even be here a while just reading these summaries! I've tried to break them down topically so you can browse for poems related to the subjects you are enjoying in your homeschool. And keep your eyes open for info on how to get your free PDF resource/library list at the end. Enjoy!
Not sure where to start with poetry? Grab an anthology! These are curated collections of poetry highlights to expose your children to many different styles and poets!
- Poetry Teatime Companion: A Brave Writer Sampler of British and American Poetry compiled by Julie Bogart and Nancy Graham - This lovely volume was edited and compiled in support of Poetry Teatime and all things enchanted learning! Beautiful illustrations and hints for discussing each selection make this a must for any poetry library!
- Poems to Learn by Heart compiled by Caroline Kennedy - A diverse collection of poems divided by subject. Ms. Kennedy introduces each section by sharing some of her thought about or family memories of reading and enjoying poetry.
- Poetry Speaks to Children compiled by Elise Paschen - A delightful collection of poems by modern authors and classic poems from previous eras. This volume includes a CD of readings of the poems, read by the original author when possible!
- Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies by Julie Andrews - Who wouldn't want Mary Poppins to sing them a lullaby or read them a favorite poem? This collection is accompanied by an audio CD recording of Julie Andrews reading many of the poetry selections!
- The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury compiled by Jack Prelutsky - This is not your grandmother's poetry anthology. Here you'll find a compilation of over 200 poems for the modern child. Multiple poems are grouped on each page, accompanied by lovely watercolor illustrations.
Poetry for the Sake of Poetry
- Poetry for Young People - If you aren't familiar with this series of poetry books, I highly recommend them! It gives children an opportunity to read the actual works of famous poets, with a little hand-holding along the way. Some poems are presented in excerpt form. Each poem is briefly introduced to give the reader help in knowing what themes are addressed and what to look for in the poem. And challenging or unusual words are listed and defined at the end of each selection. Titles in this series include:
- Shel Silverstein Collections - If you think you aren't "into" poetry, start with Shel Silverstein. It's hard not to be captured by his witty and often side-splittingly hilarious rhymes and twist of phrase. No collection of humorous poetry would be complete without him and he hardly needs further introduction. His classic volume Where the Sidewalk Ends is the #1 Best Seller in Children's Poetry even 40 years after original publication. Other favorites are A Light in the Attic and Falling Up.
- Jack Prelutsky Collections - Like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky is a must-read author in the humorous children's poetry library. Some of his best-known collections are The New Kid on the Block, It's Raining Pigs and Noodles, and Something Big Has Been Here.
- Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky - What would you get if you crossed a toad and a toaster? Well, you'd get a Pop-Up Toadster, of course! And what animal and object do you think are combined to make a Panthermometer? Read rhymes about each of these newfangled creatures in this volume and enjoy the charming cut-paper artwork throughout! (Other Prelutsky poem books about animate+inanimate creatures are Scranimals and Stardines.)
Playing with Words
- Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer - Marilyn Singer, poet and author, developed her own style of poetry called the Reverso poem. She writes a series of lines and the writes the same lines in reverse order. The pair of poems each give a unique perspective on the same scene or story!
- R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet by Judy Young - How about a collection of poems ... about poems! Read your way through this alphabetical collection and learn about haikus, sonnets, and many other types and features of poems!
- Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word by Bob Raczka - How many words can you make from the letters contained in the word "lemonade". Now, can you make a poem out of those words? Mr. Raczka sure can and they are alarmingly clever!
- Read a Rhyme, Write a Rhyme compiled by Jack Prelutsky - Each pair of pages includes a collection of poems on a certain topic - friends, cows, birthdays - and then a "poemstart" by Jack Prelutsky to get you thinking about a poem YOU could write on that topic!
- Poetry Adventures Series by Brian P. Cleary - Do you know what concrete poems are? Have you ever written a Limerick or a Quatrain? Familiarize yourself with some of these individual forms of poetry through this series. Each book opens with a description of the poetic form and lists additional reading and websites to visit in the back.
We have two favorite sets of books that explain the parts of speech and various aspects of language in poetic style:
- Words are CATegorical by Brian Cleary - I discovered this series pre-children while I was a second- and third-grade teacher. I'm not convinced that the elementary school child is ready for diagramming sentences and labeling parts of speech. But they are certainly ready to be exposed to the "CATegories" that words come in and to hear funny poems about the examples of each! These books are always humorous, sometimes slightly irreverent and illustrated with some pretty hilarious and cool cats!
- Parts of Speech
- A Mink A Fink A Skating Rink: What is a Noun?
- To Root To Toot To Parachute: What is a Verb?
- Hairy Scary Ordinary: What is an Adjective?
- Dearly Nearly Insincerely: What Is An Adverb?
- I and You and Don't Forget Who: What Is A Pronoun?
- Under Over By The Clover Book: What is a Preposition?
- Cool! Woa! Ah! and Oh!: What is an Interjection?
- But and For, Yet and Nor: What is a Conjunction?
- Pitch and Throw, Grasp and Know: What is a Synonym?
- Stop And Go Yes And No: What Is An Antonym?
- How Much Can A Bare Bear Bear: What are Homonyms and Homophones?
- Thumbtacks, Earwax, Lipstick, Dipstick: What is a Compound Word?
- Breezier, Cheesier, Newest, Bluest: What are Comparatives and Superlatives?
- Madam and Nun and 1001: What is a Palindrome?
- Parts of Speech
- World of Language by Ruth Heller - Heller's series on the parts of speech was originally published in the 1980's. The language is more sophisticated and the illustrations (created by the poet herself, who held a degree in fine arts) are beautiful and full of bright colors. This series would be appropriate for upper elementary or middle-school aged children.
- Kites Sail High: A Book about Verbs
- Merry-Go-Round: A Book about Nouns
- Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book about Adjectives
- Up, Up, and Away: A Book about Adverbs
- Behind the Mask: A Book about Prepositions
- Mine, All Mine! A Book about Pronouns
- Fantastic! Wow! and Unreal!: A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions
- A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns
- Dr. Seuss - Of course, the king of the modern humorous epic poem is Theodor Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Suess. Here are a few of our favorites:
- If I Ran the Zoo - Young Gerald is a forward-thinking soul. Today, we'd say he had an entrepreneurial spirit. He's got big plans for rounding up quite the collection of wild animals! (You can read about another fantastical scheme by another young visionary in If I Ran the Circus.)
- I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew - There are bad days, and then there are days like the poor guy in this story experiences!
- McElligot's Pool - Marco, who's vivid imagination was first on display in And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, fishes in a small hole and wonders how deep it goes ... could he catch a fish from the sea or from distant lands? Just where might the water in that hole reach!
- Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now? - Somebody really would like Marvin to exit stage right. But the fun begins when that off-screen someone comes up with a myriad of fantastical suggestions about just how Marvin might transport himself hence!
- Once Upon a Poem: Favorite Poems that Tell Stories compiled by Kevin Crossley-Holland - This is a wonderful collection of classic and well-known poems that tell a story. You'll find such favorites as "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" and "Jabberwocky"!
- City Lullaby by Marilyn Singer - There are hundreds of poetry book about nature, animals, and the countryside. But how many children's poetry books celebrate the sights and sounds of a busy city? This book is all about counting. Can you find the nine cell phones or the five cabs rattling manhole covers? And which one do you think will wake up the baby?
- Edgar Allan Poe's Pie: Math Puzzlers in Classic Poems by J. Patrick Lewis - Some of these poems might sound a little familiar, but with an interesting twist! Lewis takes well-known poems and tweaks them to create poetic math challenges!
- Mathematickles! by Betsy Franco - You have probably never read a poetry book like this. It combines wordplay with mathematical symbols and diagrams to convey ideas in new ways. For example, "tadpole = 2/3 frog". The illustrations and arrangement of words and symbols make this a book your kids will definitely want to have eyes on while you are reading!
- Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature by Joyce Sidman - Geometry didn't begin in textbooks; it's a reflection of the patterns and shapes seen in nature! In this book, Sidman illustrates and honors in poetry many examples of spirals as seen in the tendrils of a fern, the pattern on a snail's shell and many other places!
- Math is CATegorical by Brian Cleary - a collection of rhyming books featuring the same smart, catchy lines and chuckle-worthy cartoon cats as the Language is CATegorical series, but focusing on math topics!
- The Mission of Addition
- The Action of Subtraction
- How Long or How Wide?: A Measuring Guide
- On the Scale, a Weighty Tale
- A Second, a Minute, a Week with Days in It
- A Dollar, a Penny, How Much and How Many?
- A Fraction's Goal - Parts of a Whole
- A-B-A-B-A - A Book of Pattern Play
- Windows, Rings, and Grapes - A Look at Different Shapes
- Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard - This book of poems will especially appeal to little people. The trucks have faces and personalities. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things to be learned! Find out about the jobs of many trucks, like the street sweeper and the ambulance!
- Down to the Sea in Ships by Philemon Sturges - Every poem in this book describes a particular kind of sea-worthy vessel. Some are generic vessels, like a tugboat or cruise ship. But some poems dip into the history of boating, bringing to life The Mauritania, The Savannah, The Flying Cloud and others! Rich cut-paper illustrations are a treat to see.
- Poem-Mobiles by J. Patrick Stewart and Douglas Florian - These two award-winning poets join forces to create an entire book filled with fantastical vehicles. These are hybrids you won't find in the real world! Drive a Fish Car ... or run from The Dragonwagon!
- Science Verse by Jon Scieszka - This has been one of our all-time favorite poetry books. Scieszka writes about many different topics of science from the perspective of a (sometimes disenchanted) science student! Many of his poems are loosely based on well-known poems, adapted to the topic. Bonus: This volume includes a CD recording of the author and illustrator reading the poems included!
- Earthshake: Poems from the Ground Up by Lisa Westberg Peters - If you don't think geology can tickle your funny bone, definitely check out this poetry book! Do you know how to load the earth's dishwasher? Included are instructions about what to do with the continental plates and the river forks! And if the earth baked a cake, what would each of the layers be? Check out Earthshake to find out!
- Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by Joyce Sidman - Each two-page spread contains a pair of riddle poems. One poem describes and animal and the other a plant. Can you guess what they are? The next pair of pages will tell you all about them, and how they go together, like Butterflies and Milkweed!
- Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian - Read poems about the solar system, tools for observing distant stars, and even a concrete poem about the galaxy. (Can you guess what shape that poem would take?) At the end, the poet includes a little extra information on each topic.
- On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World's Weather by Marilyn Singer - Travel around the world and see what the temperature and climate are like in seventeen different places around the globe, all the same time. A note from the author gives readers more information about the rotation and title of the earth and how these affect the weather patterns seen in the book.
- Today at the Bluebird Cafe: A Branchful of Birds by Deborah Ruddell - Each poem in this collection honors a different bird. While there are certainly fantastical references in the poem - a Puffin sipping cocoa and a Vulture with bad table manners, for example - each poem weaves in facts about the animal such as details about their diet, habitat, or unique features!
- The Cuckoo's Haiku and Other Birding Poems by Michael J. Rosen - Each two-page spread includes a witty haiku about a new bird species. Surrounding the poems are rich, detailed watercolor illustrations with details about the birds' plumage, interesting facts, and even an onomatopoetic description of the birds' song in a romantic flowing script. Notes on each featured bird are included in the back for further reading!
- How to Hide series by Ruth Heller - This series of six books explores the amazing adaptation of camouflage and how animals use this defense to protect themselves. Books in this series include:
- Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian - The poet, father of five children, is also the artist/illustrator in this rich series of animal-inspired books. You will find familiar creatures ... and some new, intriguing ones as well!
- Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz - Each poem in this enthralling collection tells about a character in a medieval village, such as "ISOBEL, the lord's daughter" or "JACK, the half-wit". Some poems, such as "SIMON, the knight's son" are followed by a little history tidbit, like "A Little Background: The Crusades".
- Blackbeard the Pirate King by J. Patrick Lewis - Black Beard may be a legend, but it seems that his story is based on the real life of Edward Teach. Some poems focus on the few facts we know about Teach, others on the fantastical tales! Little bits of history and historical art are scattered throughout.
- Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer - This book includes a poem on each and every American president, beginning with George Washington and up to and including Barak Obama. While Singer doesn't take "sides" or pass judgment on any president, she doesn't hesitate to mention the flattering as well as less than flattering aspects of each presidency. Be prepared for some interesting opportunities for discussion!
- Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers as seen by Matt James - The lyrics of Candian folk singer Stan Rogers are illustrated and brought to life by artist Matt James. James intersperses the verses of the poem/song with timelines, historical facts, and mini-bios of many explorers.
- Monday on the Mississippi by Marilyn Singer - Start in Minnesota and follow the Missippi River as it flows south, growing broader and passing through ten states and by many historic landmarks, such as the St. Louis arch and the Great Bear.
Art and Music
- Paint Me a Poem: Poems Inspired by Masterpieces of Art by Justine Rowden - Rowden showcases thirteen different famous works of art and poems inspired by that art. Pieces range from classical to modern, and the tone of each poem fits the art! The appendix includes a short bio of each artist.
- Fold Me a Poem by Kristine O'Connell George - Every page illustrates a particular origami animal or shape and a poem about that paper art. Fun fact: before beginning work on this book, illustrator Lauren Stringer didn't know how to fold origami at all, so her first task was to find some books at the library and learn the art of folding! She has included a list of her favorite resources in the back of the book.
- Jazz by Walter Dean Myers - It's hard not to feel the music as you read the verses in this volume, which traces Jazz from its roots by the River Nile and highlights many of the best-known Jazz musicians and vocalists. Even the illustrations and text fonts seem, at times, to swoon and sway!
Seasons and Celebrations
- A Child's Calendar by John Updike - The twelve poems includes in this book each honor the month they are titled for and encapsulated the activities, sounds, smells, and experience of that time of year. Illustrations show a gentle life in small town America.
- Julie Andrews' Treasury for all Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year selected by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton - Poetry is divided by month of the year. Within in each month, some poems rejoice in the beauty of the season or the activities one might enjoy in that month. Other poems specifically describe holidays that fall in that month. Poems are collected from many poets modern and historical.
- Take Me Out to the Ballgame by Jack Norworth - You may think you know the lyrics to this song, written by Jack Norworth in 1908 as he was riding the New York City subway. And you'll definitely find the familiar lyrics spread across the pages and illustrated. But the fun doesn't end there! Read about the songwriter, the pianist who set the words to music ... and the first two verses I bet you didn't know existed!
- Casey Back at Bat by Dan Gutman - You might know the familiar tale of old Casey, but do you know what happened the next time he was the deciding player in a big game? This story starts out with a familiar feel ... and then takes quite a surprise twist!
Check out many other "100 Things" Posts over at the iHomeschool Network!