• THE
    Writing Prompt
    Boot Camp

    Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and get the Writing Prompt Boot Camp download.

The 20 Best Poems for Kids

Categories: Poetry Craft Tips, Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides Blog, What's New.

As a father of five children who loves to read to them at night, I’ve learned a thing or two about which poems play best for kids. In fact, I’d say there are three key types that appeal to kids the most:

  • Short Poems
  • Funny Poems
  • Rhyming Poems

This post links to several kids poems of each type (in fact, the best!) and includes some commentary for why I think each poem type succeeds with children. [Note: While I tried to provide a link for each poem mentioned below, I could not find one for four of the poems. However, I do mention an anthology below that lists these 20 and many more.]

Short Poems for Kids

Why do short poems work so well? They get in and out rather quick. We’re talking about kids here, and they often have little patience for poems that overstay their welcome.

Here are the best short poems for kids:

Funny Poems for Kids

Kids love to laugh and clown around. Naturally, funny poems play right into this natural instinct for children. What’s funny? Often, the absurd and slightly inappropriate (ahem, read “Gas” below).

Here are the best funny poems for kids:

Rhyming Poems for Kids

If your poems for kids aren’t short or completely funny, you still have an “in” with children if you can rhyme. Don’t get me wrong; the poem still has to be engaging, but rhymes can help the musicality of the poem to help kids avoid getting lost in the plot.

Here the best rhyming poems for kids:

You Can Write Poems for Kids

Start by reading these poems that appeal to kids. They’ll give you an idea of the type of content and forms that appeal to children. Then, you can think of stories or subjects that could be covered. Think of what delighted and/or terrified you as a child–that’s the best place to start. Then, write and share with kids, who can’t get enough of good poems and stories.

Quick Nod: I think every poem on my top 20 list originated is included in Poetry Speaks to Children, edited by Elise Paschen. While many of these were favorites before this collection was published, this anthology of poems for kids really knocks the ball out of the park for children’s poetry awesomeness!

*****

Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

*****

Build an Audience for Your Poetry!

While writing poems is reward enough for most poets (including me), it’s common for many poets to want to share that writing with the world (ahem, including me again). The really ambitious poet strives to build an audience around his or her poetry, and there are ways to go about doing that. In fact, there’s a tutorial on how to do this titled How to Build an Audience for Your Poetry, led by Robert Lee Brewer (yes, me). In the tutorial, I cover what a platform is, why it matters to poets in search of an audience, what tools and strategies poets can put into place immediately, and more.

Click to continue.

 

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts
  • Print Circulation Form

    Did you love this article? Subscribe Today & Save 58%

About Robert Lee Brewer

Senior Content Editor, Writer's Digest Community.

20 Responses to The 20 Best Poems for Kids

  1. Karyn says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful list. As the author of a children’s poetry blog, I really appreciate the inspiration.

  2. Nancy Posey says:

    I can’t wait to explore then share this list, Robert. When my children were small, they loved for me to read to them from the Random House Book of Poetry for Children. Now I always give it as a baby shower gift. (Everyone knows to expect books from me.) When I was young, I adored Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. The first poem I memorized was “The Swing” from that collection. I can still say it “by heart.” Another worth checking out–because it’s so fun out loud is “Skipper Ireson’s Ride” by John Greenleaf Whittier. In 5th and 6th grade, we would beg Mrs. Hopper to read that one to us. With the internet, I was finally able to find it for myself.

  3. Great post! My eleven year old daughter just loves poetry and you managed to hit on some of her favorites. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is the first poem she ever memorized, and “The Raven” is her absolute favorite. I would add “I’m Nobody, Who Are You” by Emily Dickinson, “Eletelephony” by Laura Richards, and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to your list. :D

  4. I’m glad you posted this. I’ve been writing children’s poems lately.

  5. De Jackson says:

    Ooops. I see others have already grilled you about your Shel-lessness. ;) Sorry.

  6. De Jackson says:

    This is an excellent list, Robert, thank you. But no Shel Silverstein?? No list of kid poems is complete without at least one Shel! ;)

  7. Marie Elena says:

    Karma Wilson and Jack Prelutsky are both terrific as well!

    • Miss R. says:

      THANK YOU for mentioning Jack Prelutsky! He’s the best!! I was shocked to see that none of his poems are included in this list, but of course it’s hard to be all-inclusive when there’s so much great poetry out there.

  8. Domino says:

    My kids loved Sendak, and one of their favorites was Chicken Soup with Rice. ^_^ They just giggled and giggled when I read it to them, for some reason. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/590552.Chicken_Soup_with_Rice

  9. This is a really nice post to put up, Robert. It’s good to introduce kids to a variety of poetry when they are young…there’s a reason why Dr. Seuss has remained so popular among children’s books for decades, with its lyrical qualities.
    I just wanted to add a couple of my fav childhood poems/poetry books: “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, the book “Hippopotamusn’t” by J. Patrick Lewis, and “A Paper Zoo: A Collection of Animal Poems by Modern American Poets” by Renee Karol Weiss (can you tell I loved animals as a kid?). And, of course, the poetry books by Shel Silverstein.

  10. mrs.mjbauer says:

    As a parent and elementary school teacher, I agree completely with this post. I love reading poetry to my students and teaching them to write it. This year I had students who would try to find the poems they thought I would be embarrassed to read aloud. I didn’t let on that I was secretly pleased they were getting into poetry. I am working on a website called Poems of Silliness that I am developing as a teaching tool. I find this blog and MNINB an inspiration. Thank you, Robert.
    Sasha, if you only knew how much students love being scared. “The Raven” is pretty tame for the crowd I teach of fourth, fifth and sixth graders.

    • I thought we were talking about younger kids judging by the rest of the titles. I agree that a good scare is usually expected and enjoyed, but young kids must know all the way that everything is going to be all right in the end, they expect that as well. Of course the older kids get, the more they can handle. And of course every kid is different and matures at a different pace. I know my daughter, now a fifth-grader, would be bothered by “The Raven” still, even more so, because she’s mature enough to understand it deeper. A year could make a huge difference, she might find it fascinating and enjoy discussing it when she’s in sixth grade. My son’s in first grade, and he’s definitely not ready for Edgar Allan Poe :-)

      I was happy to see a post about rhymed poetry for kids: I really don’t understand the current trend of rejecting rhymed children’s books. I know from my own experience as a child, and my experience as a parent how much kids enjoy them. They have to be well written of course. Just like any book, be it prose or poetry.

      • Marie Elena says:

        ROBERT:

        Thank you so much for this post! Writing for children is where my heart is. You have helpful information here.

        I know I need to catch up on building a platform. Right now, I’m a bit intimidated at the thought, but I’ll get to it.

        SASHA:

        I agree with you about The Raven. I would not include it either … not even for middle grade children, with few exceptions. The rest of the list is stellar.

        As for the “current trend of rejecting rhymed children’s books,” it is my understanding that the editors see so many poorly done, that they suggest you not bother to submit. HOWEVER, if you have a well written (read, “FLAWLESS”) cadence, imaginative rhyme, no forced rhyme, engaging characters that stay in voice, a main character that faces and solves his/her own problem, fun action, and an interesting plot … they’ll hop on it. This is all in few words, of course, and is very hard to pull off. ;)

  11. Hi Robert,
    I haven’t read the poems yet, just looked through the titles..”The Raven”? I know this one: long, definitely not funny, scary as can get, ends badly, the language and the theme quite difficult for a child to grasp..I’m a bit bewildered here :-( Why “The Raven”?..
    Sasha

Leave a Reply