11 Poetry Titles for Young Readers for National Poetry Month and Beyond

These works of poetry will inspire children to fight climate change, prepare them for a new sibling, teach them to be courageous and compassionate, and make them think as well as laugh.


Ashman, Linda. Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals. illus. by Aparna Varma. 48p. Kids Can. Jun. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781525303500.
Gr 3-5 –Poetry meets nonfiction in a skillfully designed and fun-to-read compendium. An opening call to animal contestants moves right into a guessing game for readers, featuring 19 familiar and lesser-known air, land, and water animals. “Think you’re tops? The most? The best?” Facing the challenge, the righthand page sets a pattern with a hind view of a spotted animal tail and its blank verse poem titled “Eat My Dust.” When readers turn the page, they find a full view and name of the cheetah, its champion trait of “Best Short-Distance Runner,” and a paragraph explaining how this body is designed for lightning speed. Next up, on this facing page, a new partial view and poem. Simple, homely sketches of the animals are softly brushed with color, some set in white space and others in a bit of suggested background. Poems range from short-rhymed verses to nicely shaped lines, sometimes with embedded rhyme, flowing down the page. The closing page thanks the animals and reminds readers to watch for creatures in their world. The intriguing theme of “astounding feats and features” of animals and the nice flow of text invite reading. Back matter offers possibilities for further use of both poetry and science. A page on protecting endangered animals is followed by a bit of explanation about the work of scientists in measuring animal characteristics and a paragraph on mask poetry. “Recommended Reading” lists books of poetry about animals, while the glossary is all science terms related to animals.­ VERDICT Put this multifaceted package on the ­science shelves, and use it often and variously.–­Margaret Bush

Bostrom, Kathleen Long. Since the Baby Came: A Sibling’s Learning-to-Love Story in 16 Poems. illus. by Janet Samuel. 40p. WaterBrook. May 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780593577684.
PreS-Gr 2 –Sixteen short poems relate how a little girl gradually comes to accept and love her baby brother. When the newborn arrives, her hopes for a new playmate are dashed, and she misses being the sole focus of her parents’ attention. In “Dear God,” she seeks comfort in prayer, confiding: “Who knew that it could be such work/ To live with baby boys!” Cartoony, digital illustrations in warm hues detail her biracial family’s cheerful domestic chaos. Her new baby blues are leavened by humor, as shown in “Diaper Volcano” and “Suppertime,” where the facial expressions of her dog and stuffed animals mirror her reactions. She soon adjusts to her new role as big sister, proudly showing her baby brother to friends and listing the reasons why she loves him. The short poems feature simple wordplay, though forced rhymes and uneven cadences limit their read-aloud potential. Back matter includes a list of the various types of poems in the book, along with brief explanations of each type. Though predictable, this book gently validates the emotions children experience when a new sibling arrives and offers assurance that all will be well. VERDICT With appealing digital illustrations and a reassuring message, this may be a good option for larger public libraries seeking new books on this ever-popular topic, as well as for Christian caregivers and preschools.–Marilyn Taniguchi

Coelho, Joseph. Courage Out Loud: 25 Poems of Power. illus. by Daniel Gray-Barnett. 40p. (Poetry to Perform: Bk. 3). Wide Eyed Editions. Apr. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780711279216.
Gr 1-5 –This collection of colorful read-aloud poetry brings a variety of poetry styles to life while encouraging students to explore their own emotions through the poetic voice. ­Poems range from funny to introspective, loud to silent, bright to dark. Each begins with a prompt, explaining the inspiration behind the work, inviting readers to try their hand at a similar piece, and often explaining the style used. This would provide excellent support for a poetry unit of study for a variety of age ranges, although it could be a deterrent to the casual reader. The illustrations reflect each selection with a similar range of emotions and use of color and movement. Humans appear diverse in gender, age, and race. The introduction discusses courage and invites readers to be brave, both as they read the selected works and as they delve into the process of writing poetry themselves. VERDICT This collection of 25 poems would make an excellent addition to schools and classroom poetry units, and will encourage and inspire students to try their hand at ­poetry themselves.–Ellen Conlin

Ghigna, Charles. The Father Goose Treasury of Poetry: 101 Favorite Poems for Children. illus. by Sara Brezzi. 128p. Schiffer Kids. Apr. 2023. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780764365690.
K-Gr 3 –Like the nursery rhymes of Mother Goose herself, Ghigna’s poems tend on the side of the sweet and simple, elegantly sketching a primarily rural world that is beautiful and easy to appreciate. Organized around seven broad themes of home, the four seasons, animals, and poetry itself, this volume offers a selection of pleasant poetry on perpetually inspiring topics like flowers, the moon, rain, creatures, and more. The perspective in these poems is largely contemplative (“I like to watch the falling snow;/ It puts on such a lovely show”); they may especially appeal to the introspective child interested in the natural world. Most of these fanciful poems are written in simple language and constructed around easy rhyme schemes, making them extremely suitable for younger children. Because of the pure pleasantness of the poems, reading many at a time can almost feel like being gently lulled into tranquility. Brezzi’s charming illustrations lushly fill each page with color, texture, and vivid tone. Given the serenity of the poems, the impressionistic illustrations add energy and thematic intensity. VERDICT A fine edition of general poetry for the younger set, enlivened by some especially lovely illustrations.–Kate Stadt


Harjo, Joy. Remember. illus. by ­Michaela Goade. 40p. Random House ­Studio. Mar. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593484845.
PreS-Gr 3 –As the modern world propels forward at a breakneck pace, the complexities of the universe can be easily forgotten. Every living creature is beholden to the cycles of nature—day and night, birth and death, growth and decay. Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke Nation and the U.S. Poet Laureate, urges young readers to remember that they are of the earth, both indebted to and intertwined with the natural world. In an economy of perfectly chosen words, Harjo conveys the ancient Indigenous reverence for nature and the passage of time. Caldecott winner and Tlingit tribe member Goade interprets the text in otherworldly watercolor illustrations that are nothing short of a masterclass in visual storytelling. Each scene incorporates icons of Northwest Coast art rendered with beautifully graduated color. Goade and Harjo’s creative synergy produces an important cultural artifact and testimonial to their Native heritage. VERDICT A significant work of children’s literature, this paean to nature and Indigenous culture belongs in every school and public library collection for years to come.–Sarah Simpson

Hughes, Langston. An Earth Song (Petite Poems). illus. by Tequitia Andrews. 24p. Cameron Kids. Apr. 2023. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781951836931.
K-Gr 2 –Hughes’s simple but surprisingly sophisticated, short poem celebrating the arrival of a new season has been visually interpreted with charm and verve. It starts with a small Black child looking out of an apartment window. Bold colors and simple shapes on uncluttered pages effectively create childlike illustrations in what appear to be gouache. Initially the window is snowy, but time seems to pass and soon the spring song starts: “Strong as the shoots of a new plant/ Strong as the bursting of new buds/ Strong as the coming of the first child from its mother’s womb.” The child views the urban surroundings first from afar, then from the sidewalk as he walks with his mother in front of their building, seeing signs of new life: a pregnant woman, flowers, children playing on green grass, seeds. On the last pages of the book, delicate white dandelion seeds the child blows into the air across a blue sky become (literally) the notes of spring. After all, “It’s an earth song,/ A body song,/ A spring song.” The entire short poem and a brief endnote about the poet and his work conclude this small, handsome, and surprisingly touching illustrated poem. VERDICT Not essential but a highly recommended addition to both school and public library collections.–Maria B. Salvadore

Kim, Kyunghee. See Us Bloom: Kids Poems on Compassion, Acceptance, and Bravery. illus. by Emily Paik. 32p. Modern Marigold Bks. Apr. 2023. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781735031941.
Gr 1-3 –Ba-Da moves to a new home and school, but with the encouragement from each poem, finds strength in being themself. Each page or spread features a poem with a theme: from being brave when faced with a scary change like moving away from home; to saying no and sticking up for one’s name and being; to eating, dressing, and speaking in a way that is comfortable and true to oneself. A warm palette of yellow, orange, red, and brown complements the overall theme of warm acceptance for oneself and others. The artwork in each scene is bright and bold, and it celebrates the diversity of the classroom and community where Ba-Da now lives. Many important points are emphasized in the text with bold words in colors like red, green, or blue. While the poetry is in verse and has no rhyming scheme, there is still a flow to the words and ideas of being a good friend, asking for help, and overall belonging. This would be an excellent read-aloud book for a whole class, in addition to an individual read to help build empathy. VERDICT A beautiful picture book about ­acceptance with a flow that would make it perfect for read-alouds; a must-purchase where fun and colorful depictions of these themes are needed.–Molly Dettmann

Morrison, Emily. Lila Duray: A Collection of Delightfully Delectable Poems. illus. by Aileen Bennett. 112p. Susan Schadt Pr. Mar. 2023. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9798985071351.
Gr 1-4 –From a banana split that cannot be put back together to sharing a bike with your sister, this collection of poetry has the heart of classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes, but for a new day and age of silliness and fun. Most of the poems are in ABAB or AABB form and have an accompanying illustration that is bright and colorful (a few are absent of color). Children are usually the main focus of each poem, and the illustrations feature an array of children of different ethnicities and abilities. The artwork has a childlike quality to it, as if a child created the art as well as the poetry. This book works to read to young children who will delight in each story, as well as for upper elementary students who are ready to memorize and recite their favorites in celebration of this form of the written word. VERDICT A fun illustrated book for elementary libraries to expand their poetry collections. Perfect where National Poetry Month is regularly celebrated, or for use in units of study on poetry.–Molly Dettmann

Metcalf, Lindsay H., Keila V. Dawson & ­Jeanette Bradley, eds. No World Too Big: Young People Fighting Global Climate Change. illus. by Jeanette Bradley. 40p. Charlesbridge. Mar. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781623543136.
Gr 2-5 –A timely and relevant book highlighting youth activists and youth-led organizations fighting climate change around the world. Using poetry and art, the authors write about some of the most prominent, but also the lesser known, young people opening the door wider on global activism. The book highlights a variety of activists with a wide range of inventive solutions to climate change issues. Each activist is introduced via poem, and then a short summary about the activist and a practical suggestion for reader involvement follows. The poetry includes many popular forms such as found poetry and free verse, but also lesser-known forms such as sea chantey and dokugin renga, a Japanese form of linked verse. The many poetry types reinforce the belief that ­different peoples and ideas can work together to effect change. The seeming pencil-and-ink illustrations are digitally produced, but well designed; the activists depicted are easily recognizable. Color elements, such as the constant brown paper–style background, supplement the environmental message. There is a glossary of terms and poetry forms, as well as biographical information for each poet. The publisher pledges to offset the climate footprint of the book’s publication by purchasing United Nations certified emission reduction credits for each copy purchased. VERDICT A great title to introduce curious readers and budding environmentalists to what youth are doing around the world right now to fight global climate change.–Gretchen Crowley

Ross, Mandy. Tree Whispers. illus. by ­Juliana Oakley. 36p. Child’s Play ­International. May 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781786286833; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781786286826.
K-Gr 3 –This appealing book of poems explores the relationship between humans and trees in the modern world. While the concept of a tree-themed poetry collection might sound predictable, Ross cannily varies between the prosaic, the scientific, and the lyrical, bringing surprises on every page. Children will discover many ways to deepen their understanding of nature, from accurate depictions of seed pods and trunk rings to more creative fare, such as guides for imaginative tree-naming (“Welcome Shade Tree,” “Looks-Like-An-Elephant Tree”) and making land art out of sticks and leaves. Ross darts all over the world, from Japanese sakura to a baobab in Madagascar, from oyamel in a Mexican forest to the Joshua trees in the Mojave Desert. Sprinkled throughout are reverent odes to the willow; the blue jacaranda; and Pando, a vast colony of aspen trees sharing a single root system. The engaging verses employ alliteration (“What a wonder, willow waving!”), onomatopoeia (“creak, squeak, groan,/ drip-drip-drip, drop, drip”), personification (“to grow tall/ and strong in a leafy, lively, wood-wise hug”), and arresting imagery (“We turn air into heartwood,/ transform light to leaf,/ rain to roots to leaf to cloud”). With delicate lines and bright colors, Oakley’s flat-style art depicts trees, animals, and humans in joyful harmony all over the world. VERDICT A first purchase for poetry collections, and for environmental collections as well.–Jonah Dragan

Van Cleave, Ryan G. The Illustrated Edgar ­Allan Poe: 25 Essential Poems. illus. by David Miles. 64p. (The Illustrated Poets Collection: Bk. 3). Moonshower. Apr. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781638191469.
Gr 6 Up –This title is third in a series of illustrated books that encourage readers to enjoy, engage, and experience poetry. Organized into three parts—“Love and Longing,” “The Great Beyond,” and “The World Fantastic”—each poem is accompanied by a study guide divided into the three areas of “Engage,” “Imagine,” and “Define,” with nonverbal icons representing these concepts. Vocabulary words in bold are defined adjacent to the text. Study questions reference biographical and historical context; narrative form; and poetic devices, such as symbolism, metaphor, rhyme, repetition, rhythm, meter, allusion, and mood. The selected works include well-known and lesser-known titles and challenge the notion that all of Poe’s poems are macabre or gothic, although many are characteristically melancholic. Famous works like “The Raven,” “Annabel Lee,” and “Lenore” are combined with obscure titles that may surprise and excite readers. The marginalia is gracefully integrated into the overall design, with colorful full-page collages that emphasize the narrative. Decorative endpapers and foliate borders connect the visual concepts, leaving no white space, but do not detract from or obscure the text. The charming illustrations effectively capture a Victorian aesthetic and the essence of Poe’s verse, evoking concepts of beauty, death, love, and loss. Profuse back matter includes fun facts and commentary, a bibliography, and suggested reading, although a pronunciation guide is not included. With appealing design, engaging text, and extra material for classroom use, this book would please readers of all ages who enjoy the works of Edgar Allan Poe. VERDICT A welcome addition to school and public libraries.–Rebecca Jung

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