April is National Poetry Month, an excellent time to introduce children to poetry. Many times, even if a child is reluctant to read books, he or she will still be receptive to poetry, especially poetry geared toward children. Sometimes, children enjoy reading poetry so much it will help ease them into reading chapter books. I have compiled a list of my favorite children’s poetry books. They can all be found at Amazon.com for decent prices and probably at your local library as well.
1. Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends is an essential poetry book for children. It was written 35 years ago, but still entertains young and old alike. With 125 poems, as well as illustrations, there is something in it for everyone. Some of the poems are silly, such as “Recipe For A Hippopotamus Sandwich”, while some tell valuable lessons, such as “I Won’t Hatch!”. Shel Silverstein’s work is just as relevant today as it was three and a half decades ago.
2. Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic contains over 130 poems and although it hasn’t been around quite as long as Where the Sidewalk Ends, it is just as beloved. All of Shel Silverstein’s books are great pick-me-ups or anytime reads. Many teachers enjoy reading them on rainy days to a classroom full of bored and fidgety children. His writing style is humorous and easily catches anyone’s attention, putting a smile on their face. I fondly remember reading his books as a child and still enjoy reading the quirky, fun poems.
3. Kenn Nesbitt When the Teacher isn’t Looking is full of poems about school. His topics cover everything from homework to detention and lunch to tests. My brother has a couple of Kenn Nesbitt’s books and, while they are all funny, When the Teacher isn’t Looking is definitely a hilarious collection of poems. Children of all ages love reading it because they can relate to the poems about school and teachers. He has quite a few books available, some are even available on audio CD. His website, Poetry4Kids.com, has a schedule of when he will be appearing at schools, as well as poetry resources.
4. Jack Prelutsky’s The Random House Book of Poetry for Children is full of a whopping 500 poems from Robert Louis Stevenson to Lewiss Carroll. According to Amazon.com, besides just traditional poems, there are “playground chants, anonymous rhymes, scary poems, silly verses and even some sad strains”. With such a wide array of poets and colorful illustrations on every page, everyone will walk away enjoying something. Published in 1983, it is still considered an unsurpassed collection of poetry.
Reading poetry to your child can be a great bonding experience. You are able to spend time together and laugh over silly poems and then share in inside jokes with each other later on. Happy reading!