To celebrate National Poetry Month, I will highlight some wonderful poetry books that are colorful, educational, and delightful. These books portray poetry as a fun way to play with words. Among them, you’ll find a little boy who notices that poetry is in nature and everyone, a poem about a bug show, and a celebration of the joy and imagination of childhood. These books are a magnificent treat if you love to read! Poetry is also a wonderful way to learn about stanzas, form, imagery, and word play.
If your child is interested in exploring creative writing, join librarians Kat and Caroline for Sit Down and Write! On Thursdays at 4 pm, we set aside a half hour to work on a writing prompt together. The program is for grades 4 and up; see the Library’s online calendar for more information.
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
Daniel knows all about the rocks, trees, and animals in the park. One day, he sees a sign for poetry readings in the park. The word poetry sparks his imagination as his curiosity grows and Daniel is interested in writing his own poem. Daniel hears a spider tell him that poetry is when morning dew glistens. A frog explains that poetry is a cool place to dive into and a turtle tells him that poetry is sun-warmed sand. After a week, Daniel’s observations help him write his own poem for the big day. Filled with colorful collages of the natural world, this is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry and nature.
Bronzeville: Boys and Girls by Gwendolyn Brooks, illustrated by Faith Ringgold
Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks captures the universal joys of childhood in Bronzeville. As the weather gets warmer, read about Mexie and Bridie’s tea party beneath the clouds and the sun, or the introverted Narcissa, who imagines herself as a singing wind. The illustration depicts happy children playing in the sun or having some winter fun. This book is a wonderful opportunity to meet the children of Bronzeville.
Flamingos on the Roof by Calef Brown
For some people poetry might seem too formal, intimidating or difficult to comprehend; especially in terms of Shakespeare, who often wrote poetry in strict iambic pentameter. Haiku can also be deceptively tricky for many people. Writing with such insight and careful observation is not that simple. Flamingos on the Roof is quirky, silly and entertaining. Fans of Shel Silverstein would also enjoy this book. The drawings range from bugs performing in tuxedos to a soggy, soaked, circus show where the clowns still perform! The poems are also very witty and would make a great read aloud. Crickets and slugs and various bugs applaud from down below!
Cool Salsa edited by Lori M. Carlson
In Cool Salsa, readers get to explore poetry in English and Spanish. These poems capture the difficulty of being an immigrant, learning English as a second language, while keeping the pride and culture alive. “There is an Orange Tree Out There,” a poem by Darwin J. Flakoll, shows readers that an orange tree behind an abandoned garden wall is not the same as the one planted in the writer’s homeland. But, it is as beautiful and fruitful as the one left behind. The book is filled with bittersweet memories of childhood, tios and abuelas. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the immigrant experience.
I Am Loved by Nikki Giovonni and Ashley Bryant
I Am Loved is a collection of beautifully illustrated poetry. The illustrations are reminiscent of collage and mosaic styles. I especially love “I Am a Mirror,” a poem that reflects the gifts of individuals through ancestry. On the right, a mirror appears. For an activity, try reading this poem as you and your child look into the “mirror.”
Ruby Gloom’s Key to Happiness by Clam Lynch and Martin Hsu
If Wednesday Addams ever wrote a book, it would be similar to Ruby Gloom’s Keys to Happiness. Meet Ruby; she has a lot of wisdom and advice to share with her young readers. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear, especially from ghosts, who can be so dramatic. Also, make sure to keep your heart in a box so it won’t get broken. If you have kids who love creepy crawlies or are in the mood for something fun and a bit quirky, this is a wonderful book to read. Fans of Neil Gaiman will enjoy Ruby’s realm: two-headed dolls, skeletons that dance without their heads, food that you can play with, and a pet bat. Wonderfully wicked and delightful for all ages.
Blue Lipstick by John Grandits
Meet Jessie. She is funny and looks at life in a sarcastic manner. The poems in Blue Lipstick reveal the life of a young girl who describes her bad hair in a poem that can be read from different angles on the page. Jessie creatively describes her physical attributes through poetry on a mirror (the poem has to be read backwards.) This is a fun book that deals with teen angst in a fun and creative way. This book would be appropriate for the middle school age group.
Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me by Eloise Greenfield and Ehsan Abdollahi
This is a delightful story of a boy, his puppy, and poetry. Thinker the pup gets a new family and realizes Jace, his new friend, is also a poet. Together they express their thoughts in verse and learn about the world around them. Even though Thinker is sad when Jace goes to school, he knows that Jace will come back. The pair meet the neighborhood kids, play in the park, discover haiku, and go to Pet’s Day at school. The illustrations are created through collages and the playful images ignite feelings of family, love, poetry, and how a dog thinks. A wonderful book for those who love dogs and poetry.
Cricket Never Does: A Collection of Haiku and Tanka by Myra Cohn Livingston
Haiku is a short form of poetry that is originally from Japan. Haiku are written in three short lines using a 5-7-5 structure: the first and last line have five syllables, while the middle has seven syllables. Haiku deliver short observations of life inspired from the natural world and are often fun and witty.
Everything On It by Shel Silverstein
When you’re in the mood for fun and silly, nothing beats Shel Silverstein’s poetry. Often fun, witty, absurd, and quirky, his poetry and drawings will evoke a sense of lightheartedness. One of my favorite poems is “My Zoootch,” about a creature that looks like a stork, a vulture and an ostrich. A fun read for the whole family.
Brown Sugar Babe by Charlotte Watson Sherman and Illustrated by Akem
This is a beautiful celebration of the color brown. Brown is bubbling brown sugar, chocolate drops, and a sand dollar glinting on the beach in winter. The illustrations in the book use earth tones to portray the desert, trees, and a violin. Celebrate the beauty of diversity and poetry in Brown Sugar Babe.