Favorite Poets For Children
As I sat down to compose a list of my favorite poets, I became aware that I read poetry like a writer, and I consider the young writers who might be inspired by these poets. We all know that children love rhyme, but it can be very difficult to write good rhymes. Also, sometimes children assume poetry has to rhyme or be about beautiful scenery. I love poetry that surprises children and helps them to see poetry in different ways. Here, you will find poems about safety pins, Mars, Iguanodons, and marshmallows. Some rhyme. Some don’t. Enjoy.
I fell in love with Valerie Worth’s poetry the first time I read “Safety Pin.” I loved the beauty and wonder the poet found in ordinary objects. She writes short, free-verse poems with precise language and imagery that is breathtaking. Children are natural poets, making surprising comparisons between two seemingly unrelated objects. Sharing these poems with children will inspire them to write poems about their own observations of the world around them.
Written poetry is simply a way of revealing and celebrating the essentially poetic nature of the world itself. ––Valerie Worth
Honey, I Love has been a favorite of mine for years. I read the title poem to children every year. The narrator in this collection of poems is so real you want to reach out and hug her.
I can’t get enough of his poetry. His poems are short and often witty, and he plays with words in fun ways. He writes a lot about animals, but he also has a collection of poems about planets. He is often informative, but always entertaining. And the art work is gorgeous.
Joyce Sidman writes beautiful poetry, but her knowledge of nature is equally inspiring. Many of her poems will appeal to anyone who is curious about the natural world. I recommend Swirl By Swirl and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors for the youngest listeners and What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms and Blessings for grade 6 and up. Her other books are for grades 4 and up, and anyone younger who really loves the subject. The books all include gorgeous artwork by various illustrators.
Whenever we go camping, we bring a copy of Toasting Marshmallows. Like Joyce Sidman, Kristine O’Connell George writes about nature, but her poems seem more accessible to a younger audience. If you know a young bird watcher, check out Hummingbird Nest.
Yes, Byrd Baylor writes picture books, but have you ever noticed that many picture books are actually poems? Two of my favorites are I’m in Charge of Celebrations and Everybody Needs a Rock. Like Eloise Greenfield, Byrd Baylor gives her narrator such a strong voice, that you can’t help but want to be her friend.
I first discovered Michael Rosen while teaching in England. The children and I read “Chocolate Cake,” and it was deliciously good. He writes about family, friendships, and mischief. These are stories with very little figurative language. While his books are hard to find in the States, you can watch him perform his poems online—even better. His recitations are superb with just the right amount of theatrics.
I think poetry for children needs to be saved from the cold dissection of right and wrong answers and put back into rooms and halls full of wonder, compassion, haunting, laughter, music and rhythm. We need to hear its many cultures, many voices, many sounds. This is about wide and diverse participation. Diverse verse for all!
— Michael Rosen, Children’s Laureate 2007–2009
If your child likes Shel Silverstein, try…
- Dennis Lee’s, Dinosaur Dinner (With a Slice of Alligator Pie)
- Kenn Nesbitt‘s, The Tighty Whitey Spider
- Douglas Florian’s, Bing Bang Boing and Laugh-eteria
For the very youngest….
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