Friday, April 15, 2011

10 Great Poetry Books for Kids

We're halfway through April which means we're halfway through National Poetry Month. It's a great time to share the wonders of language with your children. Here are ten wonderful poetry books for kids ages 5 and up to get you started.

Poetrees by Douglas Florian celebrates all things "tree"--from acorns to the giant sequoia--through eighteen double-page poems coupled with wonderful mixed-media collage art.

I'm sneaking in more than ten right from the start, because I'd recommend all of Douglas Florian's poetry books for children from kindergarten up (try Insectlopedia). His poetry is so playful and much of it is concrete. Kids learn quickly that a line of poetry doesn't necessarily have to be straight. Or rhyme. It's clever in the best sense, short enough for young children, and loads of fun. The paintings are brilliant, too.

No list of poetry books for children would be complete without Jack Prelutsky, first Children's Poet Laureate. Start with his most recent, The Carnival of the Animals, new verses written to accompany Camille San Saens's musical piece, "The Carnival of the Animals."

Or try an earlier work, It's Raining Pigs and Noodles for the sheer joy of the language--wordplay, silliness and humor that young children adore.

And, of course, there is the inimitable Shel Silverstein. Pick up a copy of Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook to get your kids laughing as they try to read these poems, or listen to you read them. Or start with A Light in the Attic.

Before you tuck your preschoolers-2nd graders into bed, read some poems from Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems by Jane Yolen, a wonderful collection of old favorites and contemporary gems about bedtime. (This would make a great baby gift!)

Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors by award-winning poet Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, is an exuberant celebration of both the seasons and color that will appeal to preschoolers through 3rd graders.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by noted poet Marilyn Singer integrates fairy tales in this unique collection of poems that can be read both up and down the page with different results. Kids will be intrigued and maybe even challenged to write their own "reversos", poems that can be read the same backward and forward.

And just because, let's face it, dogs are such fun, let's include
A Dazzling Display of Dogs by Betsy Franco for all the dog lovers out there.

There you have it--ten books that celebrate the joy, wonder, and fun of language. What favorites do you read to your children? Please share them with us!