Filled with puns, rhymes and wordplay, poetry can be vibrant, fun and heartwarming. To celebrate World Poetry Day on the 21st of March, we’ve pulled together a brilliant selection of poetry and verse books. From the classic Each Peach Pear Plum to novels in verse such as Rebound, there’s something for everyone. Plus, we have even more poetry recommendations here.
The Cook and the King, by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by David Roberts, published by Macmillan
There once was a very hungry king
Who needed a cook like anything . . .
. . . but the king is very fussy; he tries all the cooks in the kingdom, but no one is good enough. Then he spots Wobbly Bob. Maybe Bob can whip up his favourite dinner? But how will Bob be able to cook for the king when he’s scared of . . . well, everything?! Discover how the hungry king helps Wobbly Bob face his fears on a cooking adventure across the land and sea. The Cook and the King is a brilliantly funny story from the award-winning picture book duo Julia Donaldson and David Roberts, creators of Tyrannosaurus Drip. With fun rhyming verse and richly detailed illustrations, this is sure to become a firm favourite with children and adults alike.
From armadillos, flamingos and umbrella birds to quokkas and iguanas, Elli Woollard presents a lovely collection of poems for younger children about pets which are just a little bit peculiar. Filled with fun rhymes, quirky black-and-white illustrations and exotic animals, this book is perfect for reading aloud. Some poems are hilarious, some are gruesome and some will make you want to wash your hair, but there’s sure to be a pet poem here for every child and adult alike.
Each Peach Pear Plum is a timeless picture book classic from the bestselling illustrator/author team Janet and Allan Ahlberg, creators of Peepo!. Each beautifully illustrated page encourages young children to interact with the picture to find the next fairy tale and nursery rhyme character.
In this wonderful collection of poems, by best-loved and Kate Greenaway Medal-winner, Shirley Hughes, Katie and her little brother Olly go out and about, romping through the changing seasons. They take pleasure in the different elements and weather conditions – sunshine, wind, rain, mist and even snow. From the joys of the seaside to the miseries of the sickbed, this exuberant volume captures to perfection the world of childhood.
I Am the Seed That Grew the Tree: A Nature Poem For Every Day Of The Year, named after the first line of Judith Nicholls’ poem ‘Windsong’, is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems – one for every day of the year, including leap years. Filled with familiar favourites and new discoveries, written by a wide variety of poets, including John Agard, William Blake, Emily Brontë, Charles Causley, Walter de la Mare, Emily Dickinson, Carol Ann Duffy, Eleanor Farjeon, Robert Frost, Thomas Hardy, Roger McGough, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare, John Updike, William Wordsworth and many more, this is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day, or just to dip into.
This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.
Filled with lush illustrations, this counting book reveals both the pleasure and the tranquility of the Japanese garden, while introducing haiku poetry, with eleven poems that are simple and easy to follow. Follow along as the young girl explores the beauty of the garden, and discover the fun of haiku.
I bet you think you know this story.
You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.
From Cinderella and Goldilocks to Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Little Pigs, wicked beasts, brazen crooks and a ghastly giant star in these hilarious nursery rhymes with BITE!
A Poem For Every Night of the Year is a magnificent collection of 366 poems compiled by Allie Esiri, one to share for every night of the year. The poems – together with introductory paragraphs – have a link to the date on which they appear. Shakespeare celebrates midsummer night, Maya Angelou International Women’s Day and Lewis Carroll April Fool’s day.
Perfect for reading aloud and sharing with all the family, it contains a full spectrum of poetry from familiar favourites to exciting contemporary voices. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, W. B. Yeats, A. A. Milne and Christina Rossetti sit alongside Roger McGough, Carol Ann Duffy and Benjamin Zephaniah.
When Sally and her brother are left alone, they think they’re in for a dull day – until the Cat in the Hat steps in on the mat, bringing with him mayhem and madness! This is the classic book that every child should have the joy of reading.
‘But now I am Six, I’m as clever as clever. So I think I’ll be six now for ever and ever!’
Curl up with Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin in A. A. Milne’s classic book of poetry for children, Now We Are Six.
This work includes poems for children which feature Pooh helping Christopher Robin with his schoolwork (if helping is the word). It is an evocation of childhood, through the eyes of the six-year-old Robin.
I Bet I Can Make You Laugh, by Joshua Seigal and friends, published by Bloomsbury Education
Packed full of stupendously silly, fantastically funny and hysterically hilarious poems, this brilliant anthology is edited by exciting young poet, Joshua Seigal. Featuring a diverse range of contributors and some brand new poems from Joshua himself, this book is perfect for anyone who needs a giggle or a belly laugh!
Born in the back of a pet store, Alastair the parrot dreams of escape. But when his sister, Aggie, is purchased by a big-hearted boy, and Alastair is adopted by a lonely widow, his hopes for the future crash-land. In-between anxiously plucking his feathers, chewing a few books, and finding his own poetic voice, Alastair plots his way to Aggie and their flight to freedom. This funny, heart-shattering novel explores what it means to break free – and the courage it takes to finally let go.
From acrostics and riddles to kennings and paradiddles, this is a fun anthology of puzzling poems which also encourages children to have a go at writing poetry themselves. I am a Jigsaw is an excellent tool for teachers who want to introduce different forms of poems to their pupils and features different types of puzzle poems that are commonly used as models for children’s writing in schools.
Including puzzle poems ranging from easy to difficult, different poem styles and lots of humour, join Roger Stevens as he helps young readers crack the codes and learn to write their own puzzling poems that will baffle even the greatest mind.
‘Hoop kings SOAR
in kicks with wings.
Game so sweet
it’s like bee stings.’
It’s 1988. Charlie Bell is mourning his father, and struggling to figure out how he feels for his best (girl) friend, CJ. When he gets into trouble one too many times, he’s packed off to stay with his grandparents for the summer. There his cousin Roxie introduces him to a whole new world: basketball. A legend on the courts is born. But can Charlie resist when trouble comes knocking once again? From the New York Times-bestselling author Kwame Alexander, Rebound is stunning coming-of-age novel in verse about basketball, family and staying true to yourself.
They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Cos people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.
Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row. But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …
From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?
Sarah Crossan’s next verse novel, Toffee, is out in May!
Fiercely told, this is a timely coming-of-age story told in verse about the journey to self-acceptance. Perfect for fans of Sarah Crossan and Poet X.
A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness. Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.
‘I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.’
This gorgeously illustrated collection includes forty-six poems and is divided into sections covering: musings, youth, family, love, imaginings, nature, war and endings. Chris Riddell brings them to life with his exquisite, intricate artwork in this beautiful anthology.
This perfect gift features famous poems, old and new, and a few surprises. Classic verses from William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, W. B. Yeats and Christina Rossetti sit alongside poems from Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, Carol Ann Duffy, Neil Gaiman and Roger McGough to create the ultimate collection.
Xiomara has always kept her words to herself. When it comes to standing her ground in her Harlem neighbourhood, she lets her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But X has secrets – her feelings for a boy in her bio class, and the notebook full of poems that she keeps under her bed. And a slam poetry club that will pull those secrets into the spotlight. Because in spite of a world that might not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to stay silent.
A stunning gift book containing 150 bold, brave and beautiful poems by women – from classic, well loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices. From suffragettes to school girls, from spoken word superstars to civil rights activists, from aristocratic ladies to kitchen maids, these are voices that deserve to be heard.
Collected by anthologist Ana Sampson, She is Fierce: Brave, Bold and Beautiful Poems by Women contains an inclusive array of voices, from modern and contemporary poets. Immerse yourself in poems from Maya Angelou, Nikita Gill, Wendy Cope, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Emily Bronte, Carol Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Liz Berry, Jackie Kay, Hollie McNish, Imtiaz Dharker, Helen Dunmore, Emily Dickinson, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, Margaret Atwood and Dorothy Parker, to name but a few!