For many adults, poetry brings back memories of school days and can even sound slightly intimidating. But kids have a completely different experience. Children are exposed to rhymes and songs from the earliest age with nursery rhymes, picture books and music. Kids are usually more passionate about poetry than their parents and more creative too! It is our job as adults to keep that passion alive as poetry is recognised across the board to be great for the memory, the imagination, for public speaking and of course for literacy, which is why memorising and writing poetry is a key part of the National Curriculum.
From limericks to haikus, poetry can be funny, moving and beautiful and poems teach children the joy of word play, metaphors and tongue twisters. They can also sweep us back to our own childhoods, as we rediscover rhymes that we thought we had long since forgotten. There is plenty to explore for every age group: classic poems as well as new ones from diverse modern poets who are bringing the genre to a new audience.
The choice of rhyming books for babies and pre-schoolers is endless, you’ll find poetry in most of their books. Toppsta readers’ favourites include Each Peach Pear Plum, Oi, Frog!, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by British poet Michael Rosen and of course Julia Donaldson’s masterpieces such as Room on the Broom.
School-aged children will enjoy making up their own rhymes and poems. Nonsense verse such as Fox in Socks by Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes will have silly 5, 6 and 7 year olds in stitches, as will classic authors like Hilaire Belloc, TS Eliot and Edward Lear. Toppsta readers love Giraffes Can’t Dance and The Cat in the Hat or for something new try A Kid in My Class by Rachel Rooney.
For older children, anthologies can be a great way of (re)introducing poetry, the poet laureate Carol-Ann Duffy as put together a collection of 101 poems for children but there are also poetry collections to make you laugh out loud, of classic poems (try A Poem for Every Day of the Year) or even for kids who love the great outdoors (I am the seed that grew the tree).
Older teens will of course find their own way to discover poetry, through school, slam poetry, spoken word, classic authors. We love Sarah Crossan and Steven Camden’s books for older readers and anthologies like She is Fierce : Brave and Bold Poems by Women. There are also more and more ways for aspiring young writers to share their work through competitions and events.
Whether you want something to make you laugh, make you think or to move you, something that rhymes or free verse, check out our list of books and share the poetry love.