Children’s and Young Adult Poetry

An Egg is QuietThis bibliography is drawn from books published between 1995 and 2020. While some award-winners and bestsellers are included, part of the goal is to feature underappreciated gems. For more recent titles, visit Cynsations.

AN EGG IS QUIET by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Chronicle, 2006). Lyrical, informative language combine with magnificent illustrations to introduce children of all ages to the world of eggs. Perfect for lap reading and classroom discussions. A must-buy for school and public libraries. Arguably the best concept book in print. Ages 4-up. Read The Story Behind The Story from Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE: A MYSTERY IN POEMS by Mel Glenn (Morrow, 1999). A mystery told in free verse, alternating points of view about the death of Hudson Landing’s own Kristen Clarke and resulting suspicions about Kwame. Touches on a variety of themes, including racism and classism. Sure to be a big hit with teen and other thoughtful readers. Ages 12-up.

HOTEL DEEP: LIGHT VERSE FROM DARK WATER by Kurt Cyrus (Harcourt, 2005). Dive into the deep, guided by twenty-one poems—wet, witty, and wild—that bring to life the ocean’s dangers and delights. Magnificiently illustrated, grand in scope, and yet still child-centric in its focus on a lone sardine in search of his school. All ages. More on this title from Cynsations.

HUGGING THE ROCK by Susan Taylor Brown (Tricycle Press, 2006). When Rachel’s mom runs away from home, she’s left to make sense of it with her best friend, the family dog, and her father (“the rock”). This novel in poems is a rare and powerful father-daughter book. It’s also a whole-heart book. You feel your whole heart break and re-knit as you read. It’s that good. Ages 9-up. Read The Story Behind The Story from Susan Taylor Brown.

JERUSALEM SKY: STARS, CROSSES, AND CRESCENTS by Mark Podwal (Doubleday, 2005). Celebrating faith and the city itself, poetic prose and vivid paintings evoke peace and hope. Respectful and inclusive, the author/illustrator acknowledges that “no place has been fought over more” and suggests, “[p]erhaps possessing Jerusalem is like trying to own the sky.” Yet the upraised prayers to one God suggest a belief in a brighter future. A miraculous book that more than meets its great challenge of expressing both the sacred and humanity’s potential. Ages 4-up.

JUST PEOPLE AND OTHER POEMS FOR YOUNG READERS & PAPER/PEN/POEM: A YOUNG WRITER’S WAY TO BEGIN WITH POEMS by Kathi Appelt, photographs by Kenneth Appelt (Absey, 1997). Great for teachers and writers of all ages. Ages 8-up.

My Father's SummersMY FATHER’S SUMMERS: A DAUGHTER’S MEMOIR by Kathi Appelt (Henry Holt, 2004). Poignant. Powerful. Poetic. Appelt’s memoir is her best work to date. Heartfelt and hopeful, she describes the impact of her father’s departure, her first kiss, and a surprisingly close connection to a defining day in American history. Ages 12-up. Recommendation by Anne Bustard.

PET CRAZY; A POETRY FRIDAY POWER BOOK by Sylvia Vardell andJanet Wong (Pomelo Books, 2017).  A story in poems that contains twelve PowerPacks with creative activities to get your children (K-3) thinking, drawing, reading, and writing about cats, dogs, lizards, rabbits, and more! THE POETRY FRIDAY ANTHOLOGY series helps teachers and librarians teach poetry easily while meeting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the Texas TEKS for English Language Arts (ELA). More titles in the series include: YOU JUST WAIT (Pomelo Books, 2016) and HERE WE GO (Pomelo Books, 2017). More on these authors from Cynsations. Compiled from promotional materials.

PiecesPIECES: A YEAR IN POEMS & QUILT by Anna Grossnickle Hines (HarperCollins, 2001). Poetry fans and quilt lovers simply must own and will treasure this book, crafted in glorious and loving detail. Opening the cover is like sinking into an exhibit and reading, all in one. Of particular note is a two-and-a-half page spread, The Story Behind the Quilts, which offers an insider’s look behind the scenes at Hines and the family tradition that inspired her. Ages 4-up. Read The Story Behind The Story from Anna Grossnickle Hines.

SPLIT IMAGE: A STORY IN POEMS by Mel Glenn (HarperCollins, 2000). Laura Li is a different person to her ashamed mother to her motherly librarian, to her distant father, her friends, the bartender, her rivals, the boys at school. In alternating diverse and compelling voices, Glenn offers another first-rate verse novel to teens. Ages 12-up.

Wabi-SabiWABI SABI by Mark Reibstein, illustrated by Ed Young (Little Brown, 2008). “Wabi Sabi” is the Japanese concept of the beauty of impermanence. In WABI SABI, it’s also the name of a cat driven to learn what his name means… Told in haiku and sparse prose, and illustrated in collage, WABI SABI beautifully explores the concept of wabi sabi and is an altogether lovely and elegant picture book. Ages 4-up. Read The Story Behind The Story from Ed Young. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

WONDERFUL WORDS: POEMS ABOUT READING, WRITING, SPEAKING, AND LISTENING selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Karen Barbour (Simon & Schuster, 2004). A collection of poems that captures the wonder of language in a decidedly multicultural landscape. A triumph; should be required reading for every child. Ages 4-up.

Words with WingsWORDS WITH WINGS: A TREASURY OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN POETRY AND ART compiled by Belinda Rochelle (HarperCollins, 2000). A magnificent feast of moving language and colorful imagery. This powerful and poignant picture book collection is needed in every school and public library but would be likewise appreciated on any coffee table. All ages.

WORLD RAT DAY by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Anna Raff (Penguin Random House, 2013). If you’ve never heard of Dragon Appreciation Day, International Cephalopod Awareness Day, or Yell “Fudge!” at the Cobras in North America Day, it’s not because they don’t exist, it’s simply that they needed someone to spread the word. Luckily, the fantastically zany poems of J. Patrick Lewis and Anna Raff’s equally hilarious illustrations have memorialized these holidays forever. So, get out your calendars — from Happy Mew Year for Cats Day to Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, World Rat Day (April 4) calls for a year-round celebration. Ages 5-8 years. More on this author from Cynsations. Compiled from promotional materials.