10 of the Best Children’s Poetry Books

On this list, readers can find descriptions of ten of the best collections of poetry ever published with young readers in mind. 

Best Children's Poetry Books Visual Representation

Some of these include the individual works of one poet, while others are collections of some of the best classic and contemporary poems ever written. They range from the work of poets like Maya Angelou to classic Japanese writers like Basho. Discover below some of the best children’s poetry books.

Best Children's Poetry Books


My First Book of Haiku Poems: A Picture, a Poem and a Dream 

My First Book of Haiku Poems is a collection of haiku from the Japanese masters of the poetic form. It features original artwork alongside every poem and was the Winner of the 2020 Northern Lights Book Award for Poetry and the Winner of the 2019 Skipping Stones Honor Awards. Twenty poems are included in the collection by authors like Basho and Issa. 

Readers can find both the English translation and the Japanese original text within the book. Issa’s ‘Along the Rocky Shore’ is one of the best pieces included in the collection. It reads: 

Along the rocky shore, 

Sighing, the waves break,

Sighing. 

Explore more haiku poems

Poetry for Young People by Langston Hughes 

Poetry for Young People presents young readers with their first introduction to the work of famed Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes. The book was edited by poetry experts with the intention of sharing the best and most applicable work that should appeal to young readers. The poems in this collection include My People,’ ‘Words like Freedom,’ and The Negro Speaks of Rivers.’ Here is a quote from the latter: 

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

The collection also won the 2007 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award.

Read more Langston Hughes poems

A Songbird Dreams of Singing: Poems About Sleeping Animals by Kate Hosford 

A Songbird Dreams of Singing features a poem for every sleeping animal. It explores the nature of these animals, like a giraffe, and helps children develop a love for both poetry and nature. Here are a few lines from ‘Why the Giraffe Takes Tiny Naps:’

Here’s the deal. 

A giraffe 

Doesn’t want to 

Be a meal. 


I Am Loved: a Poetry Collection by Nikki Giovanni 

Written by famed author Nikki Giovanni and illustrated by Newberry Award honoree Ashley Bryan, this award-winning collection was compiled by the illustrator in an effort to share Giovanni’s work with young readers. The book’s main message is that all people, young and old, are loved. Poems in the collection include ‘Kidnap Poem,’ ‘No Heaven,’ and ‘Do the Rosa Parks.’ Here is a quote from ‘I Am a Mirror:’ 

I reflect the grace

Of my mother

The tenacity

Of my grandmother

Explore more Nikki Giovanni poems

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein is perhaps the best-known poetry collection on this list. It was first published in 1974 and was both written and illustrated by Silverstein. Throughout, readers can find fanciful stories and those that speak to the experiences of young people. It’s often included on lists of the most important books for children, such as the “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children.” 

The book includes Silverstein classics like Sick,’ ‘Listen to the Mustn’ts,’ and Hug o’ War.’ In a testament to the book’s popularity, an audio edition (that features Silverstein reading, singing, and shouting the poems) was released in 1983. It won the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Recording For Children. Here is a quote from ‘Sick:’ 

“I cannot go to school today,”

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

“I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.

Discover more Shel Silverstein poems

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka 

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka is a well-known children’s book that features poems that take the shape of whatever they are about. The book is often used to teach children new words and engage young readers with a more visually interesting form of poetry. Raczka, who is also known for his Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, hoped that this collection would help young readers look at words in a new way. 

Read-Aloud Poems for Young People: Readings from the Worlds Best Loved Verses

This collection of over 300 poems includes the work of well-known classic and modern authors like Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, and W.B. Yeats. The book was created with the intention of parents reading these poems aloud to their children and sharing with them the more than fifty illustrations. The book reaches an amazing 384 pages, far longer than most children’s books. 

In some cases, the editors chose to include long poems, like The Ravenby Edgar Allan Poe, while in other cases, they utilized shorter verses, like Joyce Kilmer’s Trees.’ Also, within the book, young readers can enjoy hearing brief biographical information about individual poets. ‘Trees’ by Joyce Kilmer begins with: 

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;


Poetry for Kids by Emily Dickinson 

Poetry for Kids is a collection of poetry aimed at young readers by Emily Dickinson. The collection was edited by Susan Snively and illustrated by Christine Davenier. The book has been lauded as a wonderful introduction to Dickinson’s poetry for young readers and includes over 35 of her poems. They are arranged into sections (according to the seasons). Certain important words are also defined as the editor saw necessary. 

The book also includes a foreword and commentary on the individual poems. Here is a quote from ‘Blazing in gold and quenching in purple,’ one of the thirty-five poems in the book: 

Blazing in gold and quenching in purple,

Leaping like leopards to the sky,

Then at the feet of the old horizon

Laying her spotted face, to die;

Read Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill 

Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O’Neill is a children’s collection published in 1961. Throughout this children’s poetry collection, the author writes about the colors of the rainbow. The book also includes illustrations by Leonard Weisgard. This collection is considered a modern classic. 

Fairy Poems by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder, the author of The Little House on the Prarie, wrote Fairy Poems as a collection geared at readers around nine years old and up. The first edition of the book was released in 1998. Throughout, young readers encounter a wonderful world of fairy “Little People,” written in 1915. This book also includes a series of enjoyable illustrations. 

FAQs 

What is the best children’s poetry book? 

Often cited as the best poetry book for children is Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. This much-loved collection is a staple of households worldwide, despite the minimal controversy that has at times surrounded the subject matter. 

What is the top-selling poetry book of all time?

Some of the best-selling poetry books of all time include The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, The Essential Rumi, Leaves of Grass, William Shakespeare’s The Sonnets, and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Other Poems. 

What is Dr. Seuss’ most famous poem?

The Cat in the Hat is likely Dr. Seuss’s most famous poem. Others include Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, Fox in Socks, Green Eggs and Ham, and more. 

Who is the best children’s poet?

Some of the best children’s poets are commonly cited as Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, Edward Lear, Dr. Seuss, A. A. Milne, Roald Dahl, and Walter de la Mare

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Best Children's Poetry Books Visual Representation
Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
About
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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