Poetry Books to Delight and Inspire


Poetry Books to Delight and Inspire


April is National Poetry Month. What better way to get ready than to read a few poems. I have a strong preference for shortish poems so that’s mostly what you’ll find here. Many are funny, some simply beautiful, and all have great illustrations. Enjoy!


  Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and more

by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Each poem is about a sport: baseball, gymnastics, basketball, Frisbee… The poems, with their illustrations, nearly jump off the page.


  An Egret’s Day

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jason Stemple

I am a longtime fan of egrets. In this collection, Jane Yolen perfectly captures the wonder of them. And her son, Jason Stemple, provides the exactly right photos. Each poem has an explanation of something covered (behaviors, nests, issues…).


  Love to Mamá: A Tribute to Mothers

edited by Pat Mora, illustrated by Paula S. Barragán M.

Poems by thirteen Latino poets show love between mothers, grandmothers, and children. The illustrations are as loving as the poems. There is a glossary at the end of words used in the poems that may be unfamiliar to some readers.


  Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night

by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen

Each poem celebrates night and the creatures of the night (snail, moth, cricket…). This book also has extra information about things the poems might make you curious about.


  The Negro Speaks of Rivers

by Langston Hughes, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Written when he was only 18, this beautiful poem starts with I’ve known rivers and goes on to speak of rivers and the soul. The painted illustrations are not to be missed.


  Someone Used My Toothbrush! and Other Bathroom Poems

by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Paul Meisel

The titles give a sense of what to expect: Soaked, Troubles, Waiting, Rush to Flush, Peace, Zip… The illustrations add to the fun.


  Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts

by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Each poem is about its quilted illustration. Or is each illustration about its poem? I don’t know, but both the poems and the quilts are terrific.


  My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood

by Tameka Fryer Brown, illustrated by Shane W. Evans

Jamie really knows how to FEEL. And his feelings blast with strong colors: purple, gray, green, black, orange, red, brown, yellow, blue, purple—and all in one day! This is sure to inspire some more strong-color poems.


  A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms

by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka

This book has 29 different poetry forms. Some I knew, such as couplet, haiku, and sonnet. Other I didn’t know, such as, senryu, aubade, and pantoum. Each poem type is briefly explained, with one or two examples and an illustration.


You’ll notice that I’ve only included one about-poetry type of book and I stuck it at the end. The idea is to ENJOY reading poetry. And ENJOY writing poetry. Figuring out the forms can come later.


If these books leave you wishing for more, you are in luck. In two weeks, I’ll have some more!



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