Saturday, November 5, 2011

Recommended Poetry Books for Children

Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected For Boys and Girls
by Helen Ferris Tibbets and Leonard Weisgard
This is my favorite poetry book.   It contains poems at a variety of levels, arranged by topics such as seasons, animals, going places, historical figures, etc.  The indexes are handy, because they not only list by author and title, but also by common titles or first lines.

The Golden Flute:  An Anthology of Poetry for Young Children
selected by Alice Hubbard and Adeline Babbitt
This is another collection that I enjoy very much.   We picked this up used somewhere along the way, and it's gotten much use throughout the years.  The audience is a bit younger in the one than in Favorite Poems Old and New.  The chapter categories are similar.  The indexes include a comprehensive list of possible subjects under which one might find a certain poem. It's too bad this nice volume is no longer in print.

Book of Famous Poems
Compiled by Marjorie Barrows
These poems are especially suited for introducing young children to many classic poets and poems.  It includes a familiar verse or two from many longer poetical works, the knowledge of which was at one time considered part of our cultural heritage.  There are little mostly black and white inset decorations here and there to lend interest.
At the bottom of the front cover, this book includes the note, "A Companion Book to One Hundred Best Poems for Boys and Girls."  I'd love to find that one somewhere, too. It appears it was briefly republished in 2004, but doesn't look as cool as the old one.

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children: A book of 572 Poems for Today's Child
complied by Jack Prelutsky; illustrated by Arnold Lobel
We have this book sitting around somewhere, but I haven't used it as much as some of the others.   I believe it includes a higher percentage of contemporary poems.  The kids like many of those for the silliness they lend. Lobel's illustrations make this nice for the kids to read on their own, or just fun for pre-readers to peruse.

Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection
Edited by Michael Rosen, Illustrated by Paul Howard
We used this one for school one year, and then it got put away with the school books.  I really need to get it out again.

The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children's Poems
edited by Donald Hall
This one, too was put away with the school books, so I can't tell you much about it, just that we liked it. This one is not as large a volume as some of the previous ones, but I thought that since its focus was American poetry, it might be useful to build a sub-category in the cultural literacy framework in a reader's brain.

The Poetry for Young People series.  I love these books.  We used to get them from Scholastic; they usually came in a three- or six pack.  We'd give them away for gifts, or put them in our kids' Christmas stockings.  Most books in this series are available in paperback or hard cover each title highlighting an important poet or topic, and colorfully illustrated to keep the interest of the younger children.  Featured poets are Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Allan Poe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Lear, Emily Dickinson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Langston Hughes, Lewis Carroll, Maya Angelou, Robert Browning, Robert Frost, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Wallace Stevens, Walt Whitman, William Blake, William Butler Yeats, William Carlos Williams, and William Shakespeare.  Featured themes are American Poetry, Animal Poems, and The Seasons.  Also available is A Treasury of Poetry for Young People, which includes the complete text and illustrations from the books on six American poets from the above list. I'd love to have this entire set.

I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak; introduction and notes by Iona Opie.
If you are accustomed to Sendeck and his quirky humor, you will enjoy the illustrations in this title.  The book is by a British publisher, so to some here in America, parts of it might seem somewhat coarse or inappropriate.  We got this book for Matt when he was quite young, maybe four or five.  One illustration that the kids found quite,... uh,... mezmerizing accompanied the rhyme, "I one my mother, I two my mother, etc."  Sendeck's illustration featured a mother nursing a toddler.  At each line of the rhyme the child gulped down more of the mother, beginning with one breast at the line for "one," and both breasts for the line with "two," etc., ending with the mother being completely consumed at the line, I eight my mother.  It's been years since I've looked at that one, but I believe there was also some portrayal of naked children, or children engaged in arguably shocking varieties of naughtiness. 

Books by Paul Fleischman; one of his specialties is poems for two or more voices to read together. The one I linked, Big Talk, is poems for four voices.

Anything by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky.  These men are/were geniuses with words and picture language.  The kids love going through their collections on their own, once they can read independently.

Picture book collections by Douglas Florian.  He has many fun and creative spins on language.

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