I grew up as a bookworm, and now I’m a book-loving mom with a book-loving kid. What can I say, I’m lucky! I’ve read so many fantastic kids’ books with him in the last six years. So far my children’s picture book roundup posts have focused on specific topics.
But since April is National Poetry Month, let’s switch gears with a roundup of our favorite kids’ picture books with poetry as their focus. While a lot of children’s books use rhyming text to tell a story, these books are specifically created to showcase poems – whether originally written for a children’s audience or not. I love poetry books for kids that believe kids can manage interesting, “advanced” writing and imagery. The variety of language and structure is great for their growing brains and imaginations… and also refreshing for the grownups who read with them!
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, curated by Paul B. Janeczko and beautifully illustrated by Melissa Sweet who works in mixed media including painting, drawing, and collage. The nice folks at Candlewick Press sent us a review copy of this one, and we are so grateful. It’s a delight. It’s a collection of tiny poems that capture everything I love about reading poetry with kids – especially the fresh use of language different from prose stories, and the imagination of the authors who often created their poems based on noticing something in the world and seeing it in an unusual way.
I read this with Boy Detective one lazy weekend afternoon and we stopped so many times to discuss our reactions to the poems, and how we each understood them. He was also tickled as he found various little details in the illustrations.
Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian. Sly humor, puns, and other plays on words combined with the planets, and gorgeous artwork. Even if the young reader in your world isn’t an astronomy fanatic, this is a fun book.
Eric Carle’s Dragons, Dragons, which is Eric Carle paintings illustrating excerpts from poetry by various authors. It’s sometimes hard to recall, when faced by the avalanche of Eric Carle merchandise, that it all started because he is a good artist. Pair his paintings of dragons and various other mythological monsters with poems about them, and Boy Detective was mesmerized. We had to buy the book, since it wasn’t feasible to fly to his cousins’ house in Colorado to re-read it often.
Little Dog Poems by Kristine O’Connell George, with art by June Otani. This ode to the relationship between one little girl and her very little dog is so satisfying for anyone who’s spent time around dogs. I love the spare language of the poems and their accessibility. This would be a great pick for convincing kids to try writing their own poems. And heads up since you can’t tell from the cover, the girl is drawn as Asian-American. Otani, who passed away in 2012, was Japanese-American (and her family was held in an internment camp during WWII.)
Thanks so much for reading! Please leave any suggestions in the comments, as we’re always looking for more good kids’ poetry collections! And if you’re on Pinterest, please consider pinning this post to help others find it.