Rhymes to Read Aloud: Poetry Collections
Here are five poetry collections whose rhythm and rhymes are perfect for reading aloud with elementary and middle schoolers.
“Fresh-Picked Poetry” - Michelle Schaub/Amy Huntington
The poems in this book provide a tour of the local market day from dawn to dusk, accompanied by whimsical illustrations. There is plenty here that celebrates farmers and the food they grow (including a delightful ode to summer produce), but other aspects of “market day” are also celebrated, including the work of musicians and local artisans. Pair this one with a trip to your local farmer’s market!
“Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons” - Joseph Bruchac/Jonathan London/Thomas Locker
There’s a lot of nature poetry out there, so make sure you don’t miss this beautiful collection by Abenaki poet Joseph Bruchac and his collaborators. Many Native tribal nations mark the year with thirteen moons, each of which has different names and associated stories. Drawing on the traditions of thirteen of these nations, the authors craft evocative verses for each moon, accompanied by oil painting illustrations that make every icicle and leaf feel important.
“Woke: a Young Poet’s call to Justice” – Mahogany L. Browne/Elizabeth Acevedo/Olivia Gatwood/Theodore Taylor III
Imagination is an indispensable tool for building a more just society, and there is no shortage of it in this magnificent collection. With bold, vibrant illustrations that match its bold, vibrant verse, Woke emphasizes the importance of building community, speaking up, and talking back. The poems, which include candid discussions of the challenges and joys of activism, encourage young people to claim their space and their dreams and provide a good starting point for further discussions of what justice can look like.
“A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers” - Nancy Willard/Alice and Martin Provensen
What if nineteenth-century poet William Blake ran a hotel staffed by all the most memorable creatures from his poems? This collection answers that question with topsy-turvy poetry and fantastical illustrations of dragons and flying machines. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go for a walk in the Milky Way, or what kind of bedtime story tigers like best—or even if you’ve never wondered that but now you’re intrigued—this is the book for you! Pair this book with Blake’s poems from Songs of Innocence if you feel like exploring the references.
“Good Masters, Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village” – Laura Amy Schlitz/Robert Byrd
The year: 1255. The place: an English manor. The villagers: extremely talkative. This collection of interconnected monologues in verse was written by a school librarian so that all her middle school students could have a speaking part in their class play about the Middle Ages. With historical notes and illustrations reminiscent of medieval manuscripts, this book encourages young people to look at history from the perspective of the young people who lived it. These poems were written to be performed, so feel free to get some friends together and make a day out of reading them!