15 Essential Poetry Books for Kids in Grades PreK–12

Poetry is a wonderful way to introduce children to the beauty and power of language. Whether they are just starting to read or are already in middle school, poetry books can inspire their imagination, nurture their creativity, and teach them valuable lessons about life and emotions. Here are 15 essential poetry books that every young reader should have in their collection:

  1. “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein: This timeless classic is filled with silly, imaginative, and thought-provoking poems that will capture the hearts of children and adults alike.
  2. “A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein: Another gem from Shel Silverstein, this collection explores themes of friendship, individuality, and imagination through playful and clever poetry.
  3. “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein: With its whimsical illustrations and witty verses, this book will take young readers on a delightful journey through the world of Shel Silverstein.
  4. “Love That Dog” by Sharon Creech: Written in diary format, this novel-in-verse tells the story of a young boy who discovers his love for poetry and finds his own voice through the power of words.
  5. “The Random House Book of Poetry for Children” selected by Jack Prelutsky: A comprehensive anthology featuring over 500 poems from classic and contemporary poets, this collection is perfect for introducing children to a wide range of poetic styles and themes.
  6. “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson: These charming poems celebrate the joys and wonders of childhood, taking readers on enchanting adventures through imagination and nature.
  7. “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets” by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth: This award-winning book pays tribute to famous poets through original poems that capture their spirit and essence, inspiring young readers to explore their own poetic voices.
  8. “Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices” by Paul Fleischman: This unique collection presents poems meant to be read aloud by two voices, creating a mesmerizing and harmonious experience.
  9. “Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat” edited by Nikki Giovanni: Combining poetry and hip hop, this anthology introduces young readers to the power of rhythm, rhyme, and spoken word.
  10. “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander: This Newbery Medal-winning novel-in-verse follows the story of twin basketball prodigies, blending sports, family, friendship, and poetry in a gripping narrative.
  11. “Poems to Learn by Heart” selected by Caroline Kennedy: From Shakespeare to Langston Hughes, this collection features timeless poems that every child should know, encouraging memorization and appreciation of classic verse.
  12. “A Pizza the Size of the Sun” by Jack Prelutsky: Filled with humorous and imaginative poems, this collection captures the spirit of childhood with its zany wordplay and clever rhymes.
  13. “Poetry Speaks to Children” edited by Elise Paschen: This multimedia anthology combines a book and audio CD, allowing children to listen to poets read their own work while following along in the book.
  14. “The Rhyming Dust Bunnies” by Jan Thomas: This playful and interactive picture book teaches young readers about rhyming words and the joy of language through a group of mischievous dust bunnies.
  15. “Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse” by Marilyn Singer: Featuring fairy tale-inspired poems that can be read forwards and backward, this creative collection challenges readers to see stories from different perspectives.

These 15 essential poetry books for kids in Grades PreK-12 provide a wide range of styles, themes, and poetic experiences. Whether your child is just starting their poetic journey or already has a love for verse, these books are sure to inspire and ignite their passion for poetry.