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Poetry Essentials:
Selected Books for Children and Teens

Compiled by Megan Schliesman
© 2012 Cooperative Children's Book Center; updated annually

This bibliography is designed to highlight examples of excellence in poetry for children and teens, and some of the poets or anthologists creating outstanding books of poetry for youth. Most of the books included were published in the past ten years, although a handful of older titles are listed. Most of the books are currently in print.

Books have been categorized into broad audience age-range groupings. Look at the specific age recommendation for each book for a better understanding of its audience, which may extend beyond the category in which it's been placed. A final category highlights selected novels in verse for elementary-age through high school.

Use this list as a starting place for exploring the sound of words on paper with children and teens through poetry. You can check out the individual books suggested here, and then follow the trail--find out what other works some of these poets and anthologists have created.

Looking for more poetry suggestions? Use the Advanced Search feature on our web site, clicking on "Poetry" in the genre or CCBC Choices category box.

Click on underlined book titles to see the CCBC review of the book, and/or the cover image.
Complete list of CCBC bibliographies

Books for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

    Adoff, Arnold. black is brown is tan. Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2002. 32 pages. Ages 3 - 7

    Cotten, Cynthia. Rain Play. Illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Henry Holt, 2008. 24 pages. Ages 3-6

    Crews, Nina. The Neighborhood Mother Goose. Amistad / HarperCollins, 2004. 63 pages. Ages 2-6

    George, Kristine O'Connell. Little Dog Poems. Illustrated by June Otani. Clarion, 1999. 40 pages. Ages 3 - 7

    Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Lullaby & Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby. Illustrated by Alyssa Nassner. Abrams, 2015. 40 pages. Ages birth–2

    Hughes, Langston. My People. Photographed by Charles R. Smith, Jr.. Ginny Seo Books / Atheneum, 2009. 32 pages. Age 3 and older

    James, Simon. Days Like This: A Collection of Small Poems. U.S. edition: Candlewick Press, 2000. 45 pages. Ages 4 - 7

    Magliaro, Elaine. Things to Do. Illustrated by Catia Chien. Chronicle, 2017. 32 pages. Ages 3-7

    Rasmussen, Halfdan. A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young. Translated by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland from the Danish. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Candlewick Press, 2011. 24 pages. Ages 3-6

    Scanlon, Liz Garton. All the World. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. Beach Lane Books, 2009. 40 pages. Ages 2 - 6

    Sidman, Joyce. Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature. Illustrated by Beth Krommes. Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 32 pages. Ages 3-9

    Yolen, Jane. Wee Rhymes: Baby's First Poetry Book. Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster, 2013. 112 pages. Ages birth-3

    Yolen, Jane and Andrew Fusek Peters . Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry. Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Candlewick Press, 2007. 104 pages. Ages 1-4

    Yolen, Jane and Andrew Fusek Peters, selectors . Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems. Illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Candlewick Press, 2010. 95 pages. Ages 1 - 5

Books for Elementary- and Middle-School-Age

    Alexander, Kwame. Crossover. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 237 pages. Ages 10-13

    Alexander, Kwame and Chris Colderley and Marjorie Wentworth . Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets. Illustrated by Ekua Holmes. Candlewick Press, 2017. 52 pages. Ages 8-13

    Archer, Micha. Daniel Finds a Poem. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2016. 32 pages. Ages 4-8

    Argueta, Jorge. Sopa de frijoles: un poema para cocinar = Bean Soup: A Cooking Poem. Illustrated by Rafael Yockteng. Groundwood Books, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Derby, Sally. A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices. Illustrated by Mika Song. Charlesbridge, 2017. 48 pages. Ages 5–10

    Engle, Margarita. Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics. Illustrated by Rafael López. Godwin Books / Henry Holt, 2017. 48 pages. Ages 8-12

    Florian, Douglas. Bow Wow Meow Meow: It's Rhyming Cats and Dogs. Harcourt, 2003. 47 pages. Ages 4 - 11

    Fogliano, Julie. When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 54 pages. Ages 4-8

    Grady, Cynthia. I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery. Illustrated by Michele Wood. Eerdmans, 2012. 32 pages. Age 9 and older

    Grimes, Nikki . Meet Danitra Brown. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1994. 32 pages. Ages 7-10

    Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More. Illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2005. 112 pages. Ages 5-10

    Hughes, Langston. Sail Away. Illustrated by Ashley Bryan. Atheneum, 2015. 32 pages. Ages 3–10

    Janeczko, Paul B.. A Foot in the Mouth: Poems to Speak, Sing, and Shout. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press, 2009. 61 pages. Age 9 and older

    Janeczko, Paul B. . A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. Candlewick Press, 2005. 61 pages. Age 9 and older

    Kennedy, compiler, Caroline. Poems to Learn by Heart. Illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Disney/Hyperion, 2013. 191 pages. Ages 7-14

    Kennedy, selector, Caroline. A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children. Illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Hyperion, 2005. 143 pages. Ages 5-16

    MacLachlan, Patricia and Emily MacLachlan Charest . Once I Ate a Pie. Illustrated by Katy Schneider. Joanna Cotler Books / HarperCollins, 2006. 32 pages. Ages 5-9

    Nikki, Grimes. Poems in the Attic. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. Lee & Low, 2015. 40 pages. Ages 5–9

    Park, Linda Sue. Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). Illustrated by Istvan Banyai. Clarion , 2007. 40 pages. Ages 8-11

    Raczka, Bob. Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems. Roaring Brook Press, 2016. 43 pages. Age 8 and older

    Ruddell, Deborah. A Whiff of Pine, a Hint of Skunk: A Forest of Poems. Illustrated by Joan Rankin. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009. 32 pages. Ages 4 - 8

    Sidman, Joyce. Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold. Illustrated by Rick Allen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014. 29 pages. Ages 6-10

    Sidman, Joyce. What the Heart Knows: Chants, Charms & Blessings. Illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin, 2013. 65 pages. Age 9 and older

    Sidman, Joyce. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors. Illustrated by Beckie Prange. Houghton Mifflin / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 32 pages. Ages 9-13

    Siebert, Diane. Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art. Illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson. Chronicle, 2006. 56 pages. Ages 8-14

    Wheeler, Lisa. The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses. Illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Atheneum, 2013. 36 pages. Ages 5-8

    Worth, Valerie. Animal Poems. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. 48 pages. Ages 6-12

Books for Middle and High School Age

    Brown, Skila. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party. Candlewick Press, 2016. 275 pages. Age 12 and older

    Bush, editor, Gail and Randy Meyer, editor . Indivisible: Poems for Social Justice. Norwood House Press, 2013. 94 pages. Age 15 and older

    Carlson, Lori Marie. Red Hot Salsa: Bilingual Poems on Being Young and Latino in the United States. Henry Holt, 2005. 160 pages. Ages 12-18

    Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. Henry Holt, 2008. 176 pages. Age 12 and older

    Engle, Margarita. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir. Atheneum, 2015. 192 pages. Age 11 and older

    Ernest L., Thayer. Casey at the Bat. Illustrated by Joe Morse. KCP Poetry / Kids Can Press, 2006. 48 pages. Ages 9-16

    Lauer, Brett Fletcher and Lynn Melnick eds . Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation. Viking, 2015. 290 pages. Age 14 and older

    Myers, Walter Dean. We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Collins / HarperCollins, 2011. 36 pages. Age 11 and older

    Myers, Walter Dean. Blues Journey. Illustrated by Christopher Myers. Holiday House, 2003. 48 pages. Ages 9 - 14

    Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till. Illustrated by Philippe Lardy. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 40 pages. Age 14 and older

    Nye, selector, Naomi Shihab. This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World. Four Winds Press, 1992. 207 pages. Ages 11 and older

    Schlitz, Laura Amy. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. Illustrated by Robert Byrd. Candlewick Press, 2007. 85 pages. Ages 8-12

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin, 2014. 336 pages. Age 10 and older

Novels in Verse

    Applegate, Katherine. Home of the Brave. Feiwel and Friends, 2007. 249 pages. Ages 10-14

    Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog: A Novel. Joanna Cotler Books / HarperCollins, 2001. 84 pages. Ages 8 - 12

    Frost, Helen. Hidden. Frances Foster Books / Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. 147 pages. Ages 11-14

    Frost, Helen. Crossing Stones. Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. 184 pages. Ages 13 and older

    Lai, Thanhha. Inside Out & Back Again. Harper/HarperCollins, 2011. 262 pages. Ages 10-13

    McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Under the Mesquite. Lee & Low, 2011. 240 pages. Ages 12-16

    Nelson, Marilyn. How I Discovered Poetry. Illustrated by Hadley Hooper. Dial, 2014. 103 pages. Age 12 and older

    Reynolds, Jason. Long Way Down. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Atheneum, 2017. 320 pages. Age 11 and older

    Smith, Hope Anita. The Way a Door Closes. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans. Henry Holt, 2003. 52 pages. Ages 10 - 14

    Sones, Sonya. Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy. HarperCollins, 1999. 220 pages. Ages 14 and older

    Williams, Vera B.. Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart. Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, 2001. 72 pages. Ages 7 - 11

    Woodson, Jacqueline. Locomotion. Putnam, 2003. 128 pages. Ages 9 - 12

This list may be reproduced and distributed by educational and/or nonprofit organizations so long as credit is given to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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