The classics are wonderful, and they’ve stood the test of time and become classics for a reason. Any home poetry library would be incomplete without them! But one thing I’ve discovered as I have explored more deeply in the world of children’s verses is that there is a great deal of extremely high quality modern poetry for kids – poems by living, working writers who have managed to capture the joy and magic of childhood, the wonders of nature, and the fun of exploring the world.
Forest Has a Song, by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, is a recent find from Monkey See Monkey Do, our local children’s bookstore. (In fact, it was one of the books I picked up at the end of Nugget’s storytelling birthday party.) The poems in this lovely book are all related to nature. They’re quite contemporary – many do not rhyme, which flies in the face of lots of the children’s poetry out there – and they’re gorgeous.
The poems have a sense of rhythm without rhyme, and the simple watercolor illustrations beautifully convey the natural world that the poems evoke.
Jumping Off Library Shelves, by Lee Bennett Hopkins, is a book of poems all dedicated to one topic (and a topic that happens to be very dear to my heart, at that) – the LIBRARY. Again, many of the poems do not rhyme, and it makes for a wonderful first look at some different poetic structures. But there are some more “traditional” rhyming verses to be found, too, including one that is just perfect for National Poetry Month —
My mom flipped through this book on a recent visit. She was enchanted and said she was going to recommend it to the school librarian at the elementary school at which she teaches – he’s a new father and she felt sure he would want to share these library-themed poems with his son and his students. I agreed, since I think any library lover would find a great deal to enjoy in Jumping Off Library Shelves.
The only one of our modern choices not found at Monkey See Monkey Do, When Green Becomes Tomatoes, by Julie Fogliano, found its way to us after I spotted a review in the Shelf Awareness for Readers newsletter. (That newsletter has brought me many great bookish finds and friends, but the best ones have been my pen pal Katie and social media friend Kerry.)
The seasonal poems are such fun to work through as the weeks march along, and I absolutely love the bold modern illustrations. Rather than titled, the poems are dated for random days throughout the year; it would make such a fun project, for a family that is more organized than we are, to make a yearlong project out of reading each poem on its designated day. As for us, we’ve just been flipping through and reading whatever catches our fancy, but with a special emphasis on the current season.
Have you recently discovered any new favorite poetry for kids and kids-at-heart?