Must-Have Poetry Books for a Diverse and Engaging Classroom Library
1. A Child’s Introduction to Poetry by Michael Driscoll, illustrated by Meredith Hamilton
A multimedia collection, this text offers an excellent overall introduction to poetry. It explains different poetic terms and forms, accompanied by examples and audio clips. Humorous and engaging, this text contains poems younger children will enjoy, but its depth of information also makes it suitable for upper elementary students.
2. A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
This biography of poet William Carlos Williams uses poetic forms and engaging, collage-like illustrations to illuminate the life of Williams, a New Jersey poet and physician. Throughout, the book highlights the merits of a creative life and the joys of artistic production.
3. Hip Hop Speaks to Children, edited by Nikki Giovanni, illustrations by various artists
This multimedia collection consists of a printed text and accompanying audio CD. Taken together, they demonstrate the importance of sound and rhythm in poetry. Students hear and read traditional poems, musical excerpts, and even excerpts from speeches as they consider the ties between various forms of communicating with an audience.
4. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander
This collection presents twenty poems inspired by or celebrating individual poets. Although students who are familiar with the celebrated poet will find additional connections to the text, each poem is also able to stand alone as a complete text, suitable for reading aloud and generating deep discussion. The book’s rich illustrations provoke visual engagement, while its language captures students’ ear. Students from all backgrounds will see themselves in the poets celebrated, who represent many different origins and literary styles.
5. Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy, paintings by Jon J. Muth
This anthology focuses on poems that are well-suited for memorization, but they would also be appropriate for reading aloud with students. This text contains a range of poems, from classics by poets such as Langston Hughes and Elizabeth Barrett Browning to children’s author A.A. Milne and contemporary poets Rita Dove and Naomi Shihab Nye. Accompanied by original watercolor illustrations, these poems will spark wonder and joy in students of all ages.
The nonprofit Academy of American Poets has a robust array of poetry-related materials to support teachers. Their offerings include poems, lessons, and activities, and many resources for teachers who would like to learn more about poetry. They also offer special classroom materials and student activities for National Poetry Month.Share this post