Poetry for Young People

Books to Generate Interest in Poetry

Sterling Publishing has a wonderful series of poetry books aimed at young readers from ages 8 and up. Each book in the series includes the poems of one particular poet and starts with a three or four-page introduction to that poet, allowing children to see how the poet's life influenced his or her poetry. The books are also beautifully illustrated. Some of the books seem to be directed more toward younger children, while others seem to be directed more toward older children. But the poems and the illustrations in each of the books will appeal to most any child; even middle school children will enjoy these books.

The 32 poems in this book are mostly from Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.

Shakespeare for kids? Yes. Definitely. The book includes some of Shakespeare's beautiful sonnets like "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" as well as some excerpts from his plays, including Hamlet's soliloquy "To Be or Not to Be." It seems like pretty heady stuff for youngsters, but the editor of the book provides a brief explanation before each poem or excerpt as well as a brief glossary after each one. It is a wonderful way to introduce kids to the language of Shakespeare as well as his perceptions of human nature with themes of power, loyalty, and greed, and more. Rather than being turned off by Shakespeare, your children will want more.

Emily Dickenson was a quiet and rather reclusive woman. She was also delicately sensitive, which is why I think her poetry appeals to many gifted kids, even the boys. Like most poetry, the poems in the book can be read at many levels of understanding. Younger children will read at a basic level, older children at another, and so on. Even adults who read the poem can get more with each reading. Some of Dickenson's poems were riddles and the poems of these type are illustrated in a way that the pictures give the answers.

This book contains 25 of Angelou's poems. She had a difficult and interesting youth with many experiences being the result of her racial heritage. Her poems deal with her struggles and those of many African-Americans, but they are also inspiring. Everyone, regardless of race, will respond to messages of spiritual strength and hope for the future.

This book contains 25 of Frost's poems about nature, arranged according to the seasons. While readers can take the poems literally and often do, there is more than one way to interpret the poems and some of the possibilities are provided in a brief note at the end of each poem. These notes can help children understand the depth of meaning in poetry.

In case you don't remember, Lewis Carroll is the author of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. If you and your children enjoyed the verses found in those books, then you'll be pleased with this book since in includes the favorites from those books, like "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and "Jabberwocky." Annotations are provided for some of the more difficult words, but don't expect the definitive description of words like "jubjub." Carroll made those words up!

Langston Hughes was a well-known poet of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and 30s. The 26 poems in this book address the concerns about race and social justice in those days and are as relevant today as they were then. His poems reflect his personal life and the urban experience and turn black oral and musical traditions into poetry.

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