10 Perfect Poetry Books February 4, 2019 – Posted in: Book News – Tags: ,

Poetry is now a major focus within the national curriculum, and we’ve helped lots of teachers and school librarians who are keen to find inspiring poetry books that will capture children’s imaginations.

It’s a form of writing that can seem like a bit of a hard sell to some young readers, especially when compared to a gripping story or a beautifully presented non-fiction book.

But poetry doesn’t have to be dry or difficult – here’s our guide to some of the most vibrant, engaging and creative verse for children out there.


This gorgeous picture-book edition of a poem by Walter de la Mare is an excellent introduction to classic poetry. The stunning illustrations by Carolina Rabei bring the verse to life, helping to enhance children’s understanding of what they might consider old-fashioned or challenging poetic language. There are three further, equally wonderful, picture book settings of de la Mare’s poems in this four seasons-themed series: Snow, Summer Evening and The Ride-by-Nights.

Best for Year 3

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming

A wildly imaginative offering from Chris Harris, I’m Just No Good at Rhyming takes the traditions of nonsense verse – with echoes of Edward Lear, Spike Milligan and Shel Silverstein – and gives them a knowing, modern twist. The book is full of ironic humour and subversive visual elements, making it a great choice for children who’ve grown up reading picture books by the likes of Jon Klassen, Jory John and Oliver Jeffers.

Best for Year 3 and above

Apes to Zebras: An A-Z of Shape Poems

Reading visually appealing shape poems is a great way to get children interested in poetry, and this collection from Liz Brownlee, Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens offers a whole alphabet’s-worth! Elegant poems about butterflies, ostriches, koalas, penguins, narwhals and a whole menagerie of other animals (plus a few imaginary creatures, too) can be found in this stylish anthology.

Best for Years 3 and 4

Journey to the Centre of My Brain

Enjoy a whistle-stop tour through a poet’s imagination! With meditations on the universe, teddy bears, and one of his four guitars named Keith, James Carter’s poems cover a variety of subjects with humour and thoughtfulness. The clear, conversational style is very accessible, while there is some beautiful use of language, such as a description of the Northern Lights ‘bursting forth/in winter skies’.

Best for Years 3 and 4

Old Toffer’s Book of Consequential Dogs

T.S. Eliot had planned to write a companion piece to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, which was to be about the felines’ arch-nemeses: dogs! Here Christopher Reid has brought Eliot’s idea to life with his own collection of poems. An homage to Eliot’s work that has its own flavour, this book introduces a host of larger than life canine characters, and also features several different poetic forms (including a brilliant and very funny take on the Shakespearian sonnet).

Best for Year 4 and above

A Kid In My Class

This impressive school-themed volume feels like a Heard it in the Playground for a new generation. Funny, perceptive, at times sad, there is so much to admire in this collection of poems, each of which is devoted to a member of an imaginary class of school children. The perfect pupil, the class clown, the tough kid – they all leap off the page, thanks to Rooney’s accomplished verse and Chris Riddell’s charismatic illustrations.

Best for Years 4 and 5

The Rainmaker Danced

‘Without questions, do I exist?’, asks one of the poems in The Rainmaker Danced, a superb poetry collection by John Agard. The contemplative verse touches on everything from war to nature, technology to History. Despite each only being a few stanzas long, these poems have great depth, and are complemented by Satoshi Kitamura’s expressionistic illustrations. A great choice to read and discuss with an Upper Key Stage 2 class.

Best for Years 5 and 6

Things You Find In a Poet’s Beard

A collection of some of A.F. Harrold’s best verse for children, Things You Find In a Poet’s Beard is full of poems that are inventive, absurdist, often poignant – and some of them made me laugh extremely loudly. Chris Riddell’s detailed illustrations are the perfect fit for this book, which should appeal to Upper Key Stage 2 readers, particularly those who enjoy the anarchic style of authors such as David Walliams, Danny Wallace or Andy Stanton.

Best for Years 5 and 6

Moon Juice

This debut poetry collection from Kate Wakeling won the CLiPPA award in 2017, and it’s easy to see why. Skilful use of poetic form and metre, and a particular love of alliteration and assonance, give the poems an almost musical quality, making them ideal to read aloud in class. Mysterious and reflective as well as mischievous, these poems have a real sense of individuality.

Best for Years 5 and 6

Funky Chickens

Benjamin Zephaniah is one of the most well-known poets in the UK today and this book, crammed with all his trademark wit and verve, is a great introduction to his work for children. Incorporating dialect and elements of spoken word/rap, and sometimes dealing with difficult subjects, these poems demonstrate just how flexible poetry can be, and how well it can resonate with young people.

Best for Year 6