Poems for Children

Poetry can take many forms. There are jump rope rhymes, European Mother Goose nursery rhymes, and African Talking Drum rhymes. There are Japanese haikus with short lines. There are silly limericks, serious verses and catchy songs. Discover what types of poetry you and your child like best!

  • Words in poems are like colorful strokes of a brush that paint pictures in our mind’s eye. Poems often describe moods, environments, colors, sounds, and textures.
  • Rhythm and sound are important in poems. Many use rhyming words, but not all poems do.
  • Poems are a way to pass on language from one generation to another.
  • Poetry books have their own section in the library. Apart from the children’s picture books, books of poems are located in the children’s 811 shelves. Ask your librarian to show you the way there.
Some recommended collections of poems for young children:
  • Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrations by Marla Baggetta.
    Bright, bold pictures accompany little word plays for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Animals, Animals, written and illustrated by Eric Carle.
    One poem for each page describing a different animal, with Eric Carle’s collage illustrations.
  • In Daddy’s Arms I AM TALL: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe.
    Heart-felt poems with highly textured collage illustrations.
  • Off to the Sweet Shores of Africa: and Other Talking Drum Rhymes by Uzo Unobagha, illustrated by Julia Cairns.
    African-inspired nursery rhymes contain West African imagery. Meet the characters in folk tales and the flora and fauna of another continent.
  • Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marc Brown.
    This is collection of more than 200 short poems for young children. The poems are both old and new, describing spring, winter, bath time, cats… all kinds of things that are familiar to children.
  • The Random House Book of Poetry, selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Arnold Lobel.
    572 longer poems for the school-aged child, arranged in sections by topic.
  • Zig-Zag: Zoems for Zindergarten, written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski.
    Perfect for four and five year olds, these bouncy rhymes talk about letters, colors, numbers, safety and more.
Download your own poetry booklets and collections
Learn more about poetry at these sites