18 Books for Poetry Month

Don’t let April go by without picking up one—or more—of these new books in honor of National Poetry Month

Best for Grades PreK-2
Someone Used My Toothbrush
By Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Paul Meisel.
What self-respecting 6-year-old can resist bathroom humor? Shields strikes the balance between potty punchlines and classroom-worthy poetry in this collection dedicated to the throne room.

Volcano Wakes Up!
By Lisa Westberg Peters, illustrated by Steve Jenkins.
These poems about a volcanic eruption, written from five different points of view-like those of the hillside crickets and ferns-are perfect for springtime science. Plus: Kids adore Jenkins's colorful collages.

Everybody Was a Baby Once
By Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman.
We're so excited that the creators of The Runaway Dinner and The Pencil have reunited, this time in a laugh-out-loud collection of poems. Readers will giggle as soon as they see Ingman's playful babies racing toward the finish line.

We Planted a Tree
By Diane Muldrow, illustrated by Bob Staake.
Young readers may not realize that many picture-book texts are in fact poetry. You'll make that point clear with this lyrical tale about two families planting trees halfway across the world from one another.

Chicken Scratches
By George Shannon and Lynn Brunelle, illustrated by Scott Menchin.
What is it about chickens? Add these delightfully "fowl" poems to an always growing list of books about our feathered friends (most recently, Higgledy-Piggeldy Chicks, Big Chickens Go to Town, and Chicken Dance). Hey, we'll take chickens over vampires any day of the week!

Hip Hop Dog
By Chris Raschka, illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky.
Raschka and Radunsky bring hip-hop culture to the playground set with this rhythmic tale about a pup that finds himself through music.

Best for Grades 3-5
Emma's Poem
By Linda Glaser, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola.
This tribute to the power of poetry honors Emma Lazarus and her verse inscribed on the Statue of Liberty ("Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses...").

Mirror, Mirror
By Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse.
Singer coined a new form in this fairy tale-themed collection: "reversos," or poems that are first read downward, then, with changes in punctuation, read upward for a new meaning. A poem narrated by Snow White, for example, becomes a speech by the wicked queen.

Sharing the Seasons
Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by David Diaz.
Hopkins has a knack for anthologizing (see My America and America at War), and this new collection about the seasons is no exception.

Obama: Only in America
By Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Robert Barrett.
This contribution to the stack of Prez biographies stands out for its rhythmic, elegant text and imagery-residing somewhere between poetry and prose. Use it to discuss the blurry line between the two forms.

By Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beckie Prange.
Subtitled "Celebrating Nature's Survivors," this fascinating collection from the team behind Song of the Water Boatman explores animals that have existed for millions of years, and asks readers to think about why some species make it and others don't.

Some Kind of Love
By Traci Dant, illustrated by Eric Velasquez.
We fell hard for this "family reunion in poems." The title comes from a favorite-"Must be some kind of love/that moved my grandma to say,/Always come home./Come home so I can see your faces."

Best for Grades 6-8
Borrowed Names
By Jeannine Atkins.
Atkins's beautiful treatment of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, and Marie Curie illuminates the connections between these legendary women and their daughters.

Three Rivers Rising
By Jame Richards.
Social classes collide in Richards's retelling of the Johnstown flood. The sweet summer romance and distinct voices are guaranteed to capture readers' imagination and interest.

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
By Ron Koertge.
In this sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, poet and baseball player Kevin has a crush on a cute girl at open-mike night. The only problem? He already has a girlfriend.

Time You Let Me In
Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Students will undoubtedly find a writing role model or two in this anthology of work by poets under 25. With selections both humorous and heartbreaking, there's something for everyone, as well as a profound connection to the issues young people face.

Crossing Stones
By Helen Frost.
This is a powerful story of two families whose lives are changed forever when their young men serve on the front lines and their daughters are left behind to find their own path and purpose.

The Dreamer
By Pam Muñoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sís.
It's impossible to put down this dramatization of the life of Pablo Neruda, from two masters themselves.

Editor's Pick
Poetry Month Freebies
What does Poetry Month mean for teachers? Often it's classroom freebies like bookmarks, stickers, posters, and more. Request a 2010 National Poetry Month poster at poets.org/posterRequest.php. Then download coloring pages and crafts at crayola.com. The National Council of Teachers of English posts new poems daily, in audio or video format, throughout April at ncte.org/tyca/poetrymonth. It's also worth checking out the websites of your favorite authors and publishers, many of which take part in the celebration. The hilarious J. Patrick Lewis, for example, has over a dozen "bookmark poems" available for download at jpatricklewis.com.

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    National Poetry Month