Freshly Picked Poetry for National Poetry Month

As publishers, we know how easy it is to get lost in the sea of narrative fiction, informational nonfiction, and engaging novels. We often neglect to take the time to sit down and enjoy some of the finer forms of literature. However, April is National Poetry Month and we intend to give you the choice to do just that, with a well-rounded, highly diverse list of poetry and poetry-related titles. From old classics to new hits, you can find a poem for every age in this carefully handpicked collection!

Find all of these poetry titles and more at

Rumble and Roar: Sound Around the World

Interest Level: Preschool – Grade 2

The roar of a waterfall, the chirp of insects, the thump of a heartbeat—sound is all around us! Rhyming text and atmospheric illustrations present four children in different parts of the world who encounter all sorts of sounds.

We Belong

Interest Level: Preschool – Grade 2

Explore and celebrate who you are and who others are too! Rhyming verse by Laura Purdie Salas invites others to notice the diversity of our world and affirm that we all belong, just as we are. Bright illustrations by Carlos Vélez Aquilera feature a diverse group of children, playing and learning in an urban setting.

Flash and Gleam: Light in Our World

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 2

The soft glow of a candle, the blink of a firefly, a burst of fireworks—light is everywhere in our world!

Rhyming text and luminous illustrations follow four children as they experience many different forms of light.

♦️ “[M]ultiple STEAM applications, from poetry and creative writing to introductions to energy and light to how the sun affects human life, and doubles as a great read-aloud or a starry bedtime story.” —starred, Booklist

Hidden Animal Colors

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Why should the bright and flashy animals get all of the attention? If you look closely at some seemingly ordinary animals, you may find a colorful surprise. A lizard is brown. A hippo is gray. But wait! The lizard has a blue tongue to scare predators, and the hippo has pink “sweat” that protects it from the sun! Brilliant photos accompany author Jane Park’s rhyming nonfiction text in this playful exploration of animals’ hidden colors.

Hair Story

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3

Why should the bright and flashy animals get all of the attention? If

With rhythmic, rhyming verse, this picture book follows two girls—one non-Black Puerto Rican, one Black—as they discover the stories their hair can tell.

Preciosa has hair that won’t stay straight, won’t be confined. Rudine’s hair resists rollers, flat irons, and rules.

Together, the girls play hair salon! They take inspiration from their moms, their neighbors, their ancestors, and cultural icons. They discover that their hair holds roots of the past and threads of the future.

With rhythmic, rhyming verse and vibrant collage art, author NoNieqa Ramos and illustrator Keisha Morris follow two girls as they discover the stories hair can tell.

Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 3 

you gasp as I roar,
my mane exploding, sizzling—
lion of the sky!

Haiku meet riddles in this wonderful collection from Laura Purdie Salas. The poems celebrate the seasons and describe everything from an earthworm to a baseball to an apple to snow angels, alongside full-color illustrations.

♦️ “[T]he wonderfully evocative, vivid imagery in text and art also make this a welcome addition for poetry classroom units.” —starred, Booklist

♦️ “Richly rewarding and clever: a visually arresting, inventive treatment of a popular subject.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

A Girl Like Me

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4 

♦️ “[A] rallying cry for girls to reject limitations others might place on them and their dreams.” —starred, The Horn Book Magazine

“Once I dreamed I swam / the ocean / and saw everything deep, cool / and was part of the waves. / I swam on by the people / onshore / hollering, / ‘A girl like you needs to / stay out of the water / and be dry / like everyone else.’”

Empower young readers to embrace their individuality, reject societal limitations, and follow their dreams. This inspiring picture book brings together a poem by acclaimed author Angela Johnson and Nina Crews’s distinctive photocollage illustrations to celebrate girls of color.

Seeing into Tomorrow: Haiku by Richard Wright

Interest Level: Kindergarten – Grade 4

A remarkable celebration of Richard Wright, poetry, and contemporary black boys at play.

Wright’s haiku puts everyday moments into focus. Now, more than fifty years after they were written, these poems continue to reflect our everyday experiences. Paired with the photo-collage artwork of Nina Crews, Seeing into Tomorrow celebrates the lives of contemporary African American boys and offers an accessible introduction to one of the most important African American writers of the twentieth century.

♦️ “A must for all children’s collections. These verses are an introduction to haiku as well as an entry point into Wright’s work; they can be read aloud to younger children or enjoyed independently by older readers.” —starred, School Library Journal

♦️ “This loving, welcoming introduction to one of the most important American writers of the 20th century centers young black boys as supreme observers and interrogators of the natural wonders that surround them.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude

Interest Level: Grade 1 – Grade 4

How do you give thanks?

Gratitude isn’t something we need to save up for a special holiday. What are you grateful for right now, today?

This anthology brings together a diverse group of poets who express gratitude for everything from a puppy to hot cocoa to the sky itself. Each writer uses a different poetic form, and readers will encounter a concrete poem, a sonnet, a pantoum, a sijo, and much more.

Contributors include Kimberly Blaeser, Sun Yung Shin, Naomi Shihab Nye, Charles Waters, Janice Scully, Jane Yolen, Traci Sorell, JaNay Brown-Wood, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margarita Engle, and more. Stunning illustrations from Marlena Myles invite close examination, making this a collection to return to and savor again and again.

A portion of the proceeds from this anthology will be donated to We Need Diverse Books.

Eek, You Reek!: Poems about Animals That Stink, Stank, Stunk

Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 5

Eek, you reek,
You make a funk.
Where you have been
Things stink, stank, stunk.

You’ve left a path,
A swath of smell,
You did it very well.

Readers will be delighted by the malodorous melodies of poems calling out the different pungent attributes of a full cast of foul-smelling creatures.

♦️ “[T]he foolish foulness may just hook those who think poetry stinks. Rancid rhymes and syncopated stank and plenty of eeeew just for you.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don’t know each other . . . and they’re not sure they want to.

Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is Black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

♦️ “[D]elicately demonstrate[s] the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.”—starred, Publishers Weekly

♦️ “A fresh approach to exploring interracial communication. . . . A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews

Check out this blog post on how to read poems aloud effectively with author Charles Waters!

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z

Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

How can we make the world a better place?

This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a “try it” prompt for an activity.

This second poetic collaboration from Irene Latham and Charles Waters builds upon themes of diversity and inclusiveness from their previous book Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship. Illustrations from Iranian-British artist Mehrdokht Amini offer readers a rich visual experience.

♦️ “Latham and Waters’s personal stories are plainspoken and relatable . . . and the suggested actions, accessible . . . The approach creates multiple pathways for engagement. Extensive supplementary materials include an index of poetic forms.” —starred, Publishers Weekly

The Alligator’s Smile: And Other Poems

Interest Level: Grade 3 – Grade 6

Get up close and personal with alligators in all their tooth-filled glory in this collection of poems by New York Times bestselling author Jane Yolen. Rhymes and rhythms reflect on how alligators hunt, keep warm, and care for young.

Stunning, large-scale photographs zoom in on these mighty hunters, while fun fact boxes accompany the poetry, providing details that are sure to pique young readers’ curiosity.

Amanda Gorman: Inspiring Hope with Poetry

Interest Level: Grade 4 – Grade 8

Poet Amanda Gorman delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 presidential inauguration, winning wide acclaim. Read about Gorman’s early life, her children’s and poetry books, and what she plans to do next.

Quiet Fire: Emily Dickinson’s Life and Poetry

Interest Level: Grade 6 – Grade 12

When Emily Dickinson died at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1886, she left a locked chest with hand-sewn notebooks and papers filled with nearly 1,800 unpublished poems. Four years later, her first collection was published and became a singular success. Today Dickinson is revered as one of America’s greatest and most original poets. Using primary source materials, including the poet’s own letters and poems, Quiet Fire presents the life and art of Emily Dickinson to a new generation.

Coyote’s Soundbite: A Poem for Our Planet

Interest Level: Grade 2 – Grade 4

A rip-roaring poem about protecting our planet, told through the eyes of Coyote the trickster.

Excitement spreads like wildfire through the jungle. Earth-goddesses are planning a conference! From Australia to Antarctica, Amazon to Africa, goddesses will debate the burning environmental issues of our times . . . and bushy-tailed, smooth-talking Coyote wants in on the action. Can this infamous trickster come up with a plan to infiltrate the conference and leave a lasting legacy for our planet?

“Grobler’s whimsical illustrations, with captivatingly vibrant colors and movement, are the star of this book, truly bringing to life the nature goddesses and their animal compatriots, from the cunning Coyote to numerous other members of the flora and fauna kingdoms. . . An aesthetically pleasing and stimulating work of art.”—Booklist

“Agard’s rhythmic verse reads like a classic fable, with intriguing characters and an interesting premise.”—Kirkus

This title is complete with a free downloadable teaching guide!

Find out more about this title and its additional resource here.

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