50+ Books to Celebrate National Poetry Month for Kids and Teens
April is National Poetry Month!
Now is typically the time of year when educators have more flexibility with their curriculum and incorporate units of study around poetry. It is also a wonderful time for caregivers to refresh their shelves and read more poetry books with children. Whatever your reason for reading this post, we hope you find a kid’s book that excites you and encourages you to read more poetry all year long.
There are so many excellent poetry books that are written in verse or compiled anthologies. This list includes more than 50 of our most recommended and most popular titles that affirm and reflect the diversity of young readers.
We've highlighted a sampling of our board book, picture book, middle grade and young adult recommendations below. For the complete list of titles, visit our Bookshop page.
Author: bell hooks | Illustrator: Shane W. Evans | Publisher: Jump at the Sun
Homemade Love is a short and sweet board book about the love between a mom, dad, and daughter. It showcases the love and adoration of a joyful Black family. This family supports each other when mistakes are made, and through all the little moments that make up time spent together. You may also enjoy reading Be Boy Buzz - another affirming bell hooks board book.
We Sang You Home & Little You
Author: Richard Van Camp | Illustrator: Julie Flett | Publisher: Orca Publishing
Both of these board books are authored and illustrated by Indigenous creators whose work feels like a hug for new parents. These heartwarming and lyrical books depict the wonder and joy of welcoming a new baby into the world and are perfect gifts for new parents. The simple and bold illustrations will appeal to even the youngest reader.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?: a Mister Rogers Poetry Book and It’s You I Like: a Mister Rogers Poetry Book
Author: Fred Rogers | Illustrator: Luke Flowers | Publisher: Quirk Books
Fans of Mister Rogers - rejoice! These board books are true gems. Both of them feature popular Mister Rogers songs, including the opening theme song, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and the gentle and affirming song, It’s You I Like.
Babies and kids will love the colorful and detailed illustrations, and caregivers will love how they expose children to new vocabulary and encourage language development. Older children will adore A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers.
African Proverbs for All Ages
Author: Johnnetta Betsch Cole | Illustrator: Nelda LaTeef | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
This is a beautiful and engaging book that will spark thoughtful conversation and wonderment. Every proverb is accompanied by a detailed illustration and together, they represent some of the wisdom of diverse cultures in Africa.
The author explains how much she believes that young children are capable of understanding metaphor and deeper meaning. We could not agree more with her. African Proverbs for All Ages is a fantastic book to add to any school or home collection.
Breathe and Be: a Book of Mindfulness Poems
Author: Kate Coombs | Illustrator: Anna Emilia Laitinen | Publisher: Sounds True
Breathe and Be is a peaceful, quiet and tender-hearted book that encourages readers to be present, to focus on the here and now. It provides detailed imagery and beautiful illustrations that showcase the interconnectedness of us and the natural world.
This would be a fantastic bedtime story, and the perfect book to incorporate into transitions and times of overstimulation and anxiety. We also suggest these books for encouraging mindfulness in kids.
Just Like Me
Author/Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton | Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Just Like Me is a collection of poems targeted towards all types of girls - its a celebration of how incredibly unique and special every single one is! Every young girl is certain to find a poem that resonates with them inside these pages.
The poems cover topics like body image, self-love, activism, inclusion, empathy, hopes and dreams and so much more. It is an essential book for any girl who is growing up in this world and growing into the person she wants to be. In the words of Brantley-Newton, "Shine, girl, shine!"
We featured another book by this creator on our post celebrating Black joy through picture books. You can find it here.
Jaguars and Butterflies
Author: Catherine Russler | Illustrator: Ely Ely | Publisher: Jaquith Creative
Jaguars and Butterflies is a “self-empowerment book for girls of Mexican heritage and an educational children’s book for all.” This gorgeous book is uplifting and self-affirming for girls, and thoughtfully connects aspects of their identities to their ancestors, reminding them that they are strong, beautiful and powerful.
Educators may want to use this resource guide from the creators. You can also learn more about how the royalties from the sale of this book are being sent back into communities to increase representation in children’s books and book ownership for indigenous girls in Mexico.
Woke: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice
Author: Mahogany L. Browne, Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood | Illustrator: Theodore Taylor III | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
This collection of poems by women of color focuses on a variety of social justice and activism issues. The poems encourage young children to speak out, and apply their own passion and joy to social movements. It is an inspiring, self-affirming compilation of work that will help nurture empathy and action.
Guess Who, Haiku
Author: Deanna Caswell | Illustrator: Bob Shea | Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
This is a unique guessing game book for young poets. Each page features a different haiku and challenges readers to guess who the poem is about - maybe a buzzing bee or hungry mouse! This is an excellent addition to any early childhood classroom library that is exploring types of poetry, imagery and writing techniques.
The Magical Imperfect
Author: Chris Baron | Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
A moving middle grade novel written in verse detailing two kids who have spent their lives on the outside and the connections that bring them together. Set in a town full of refugees during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, The Magical Imperfect touches on both physical and mental health struggles while these characters help each other to be seen and heard for their perfect imperfections that make them who they are.
Emmy in the Key of Code
Author: Aimee Lucido | Publisher: Versify
A unique middle grade novel that blurs the lines of languages as it combines poetry, music, and code. Twelve year old Emmy is struggling to feel like she fits in in her new school in a new city. Then she takes her first coding class and meets her new friend, Abigail, who she has more in common with than she ever expected - especially their love of music. But when things start to fall apart around her, Emmy is determined to continue through the beautiful song of life.
If I Tell You the Truth
Author: Jasmin Kaur | Publisher: HarperCollins
A beautiful YA novel written in a combination of prose, poetry, and illustration, If I tell You the Truth weaves together the timelines of Kiran and her daughter Sahaara, when they were both teenages. When Kiran, a young Punjabi Sikh, is sexually assaulted by her fiance’s brother and becomes pregrant, she flees her home in India for Canada because nobody believes her. She is soon faced with the challenges of being an undocumented, single mother.
Eighteen years later Kiran is facing deportation and her daughter, Sahaara will do anything to help her. When Kiran finally reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception, her daughter encourages her to speak out against the man who raped her, a now well loved political figure. Sahaara must figure out the best way to support her mom while also grappling with the news about her parents. A heart wrenching and beautiful tale about a mother-daughter pair working to understand each other and fight for themselves and what they believe.
Concrete Kids: Pocket Change Collective
Author: Amyra Leon | Illustrator: Ashley Lukashevsky | Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Pocket Change Collective is a collection of small books detailing the incredible thoughts and stories of today’s leading activists and artists. In Concrete Kids, musician, playwright, and educator Amyra León explores her childhood in Harlem and the struggles, joys, and resilience that came with it.
We featured another book from this collection on our list of Affirming and Gender-Inclusive Books for Kids and Teens.