Poetry Books for Tea Time

Since we’ve been doing poetry teas…  or poetry lemonades…  Bravewriter style, we’ve had a lot more poetry books out from the library than ever before.  I thought I’d share the ones that have resonated.  Anything we get has to be accessible because the kids pick up the poetry books and just read whatever.  It has to be something they can read aloud with confidence.

  Sad Underwear and Other Complications: More Poems fo Children an... Cover Art Nonsense Poems (Dover Children's Thrift Classics) (Paperback) ~ ... Cover Art

Obviously, they tend toward the funny poems, but that’s fine as sometimes funny poems are good too.  Some of the funny books we’ve enjoyed best have been Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Falling Up, and the book of his work that was published posthumously last year, Every Thing on It.  Jack Prelutsky’s big compendiums New Kid on the Block and A Pizza the Size of the Sun have also been mainstays.  Finally, if you don’t know Judith Viorst’s poetry, then you absolutely should.  We’ve had Sad Underwear and Other Complications as well as If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries out from the library repeatedly.  Finally, we have some Edward Lear, which has made nice story poems, though so far only the adults have braved reading them.  I think the children are intimidated by the length, but they’ve enjoyed listening.


For more serious fare, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes worked well.  The poems are short but good for ruminating and appreciating language.  Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise, which won a Newbery Award many years ago, is another that’s good.  The poems are meant to be read by two people, which makes them great for a poetry social.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses seems to be an inevitable poetry book in a household.  Finally, we had a lovely old copy of a book called Hist Wist by e.e. cummings that includes several of his poems chosen for children.  It’s apparently very out of print, but it’s a nice one.  I’d like to find more books like this of poems of individual great adult poets chosen for children.


Finally, the collections are important.  We have some little kid ones that the kids keep rereading, which is cute.  Also, I have some from my childhood.  And we keep taking some out of the library, like Sing a Song of Popcorn  and The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, which are both fine.  I haven’t found one we just adore quite yet though.

If you’re also doing poetry teas, what books do you have strewn on your table?


6 thoughts on “Poetry Books for Tea Time

  1. Thanks for this. We also like the Barefoot Book of Classic Poems, ed. Jackie Morris. It’s a little darker, and we just read one or two at a time. I will go find Joyful Noise!

  2. Oh, I love your list, Farrar. Going to share it on my facebook page, ok? We have several of the Shel Silverstein books, the A.A. Milne collection, a book from my childhood called The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Most recently, our favorite library book is a collection by William Carlos Williams.

  3. Great list! We are loving: Jane Yolen’s Water Music, Where have the Unicorns Gone?, and Dear Mother, Dear Daughter, and Garrison Keller’s Good Poems, and a Dover anathology of “Best Poems”. My 6 yo likes Shel etc, but my 8 yo finds them (and similar) “too silly”! She, in particular, has really taken to poetry, reading it on her own, copying favorites in her journal on her own, writing her own, etc. Wonderful stuff.

  4. Here are a couple more suggestions in addition to the treasures already mentioned! A Children’s Book of Verse selected by Marjorie Rogers and Ill by Eric Kinkaid, An Invitation to Poetry selected by Marjory Lawrence, Piping Down the Valleys Wild edited by Nancy Larrick and Ill by Ellen Raskin, an old book from the “Umbrella” series called Sung Under the Silver Umbrella Ill by Dorothy Lathrop, and my DD’s favorite T.S. Elliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

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