Children's Poems

by sheilamarie

Poetry written for kids has a lot of rhythm and rhyme. Children's poems delight children and adults alike!

Every child should have some poetry in his or her repertoire.

Here are some poetry collections for children that you and your children can learn together. So much of literature -- whether in the written form or on film and stage -- is built on classic works of literature from the past. When a poem is referenced in another piece of writing, do you recognize it? You can give your children the gift of literature to resonate within them so that they can make sense of their own life experiences.

No one can have too much poetry to inspire them and carry them through life.

Children's Poems Really Move!

Light in Subject and Light on Your Feet?

Poetry written for children is all about sound and rhythm. Children's poems are usually bright and fun and appeal to the child in all of us. When I think of children's poems, I usually think of authors such as Shel Silverstein and Dennis Lee, but Emily Dickinson and John Masefield have poems that are often in children's poetry anthologies, too.

Children's poems are not always written just for children, in other words. Some poems, because of their language and the rhythm they convey, are more easily enjoyed by the younger ones around us. And their subject matter may not always be just the fluffy type, either. There are poems about death and struggle that are not too dark to find their way into children's hands. After all, these are poems of the human condition, and children are not immune from suffering, sad to say. 

Children's Poems

Collections of Poetry for Children
A Child's Book of Poems
$9.95  $6.36
Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young
Knopf Books for Young Readers
$19.95  $7.50
poetry book: Einstein's Cat: short bo...
Pink Hippo Press

Poems for Children are Real Poems

And These Poems Include the Silly and Nonsense Poems, Too

What kind of poems do children like?

Most children respond to poems that have a musical quality to them. That means lots of rhythm and rhyme.

Children tend to feel rhythm with their whole bodies. Watch a young child listening to music and you'll get what I mean. His whole body moves and sways and sometimes leaps. It's harder for him to sit still than it is for us "mature" types. A young child can be less afraid of looking foolish.

I've used the word "can" on purpose because unfortunately many children learn too quickly they'll be laughed at for looking "like a child." How sad for all of us when this happens. A child being a child makes something come alive even in grownups. 

Playing with language and poems in particular is one way we can allow our children to remain children.

Poems are also helpful for children learning to read. Think about the rhymes of Dr. Seuss, for instance. Though not poetry per se, Dr. Seuss' books play with rhymes and nonsense and so teach phonics to young ones.

Poetry can do the same thing. A child who memorizes poems growing up has an advantage linguistically. Memorized poems also sit within the heart and can rise at moments when all other speech fails. Poems can help us think and feel more deeply than other kinds of writing.

For this reason having a treasury of good poems in the house can be priceless for a family. When that treasury is put together with children in mind, then the poems will be chosen based on their ease of entry. This doesn't mean they'll be trivial. A good poem is never trivial. But they will probably roll easily off the tongue and may include different types of poems -- both humorous and serious.

Two Girls Reading Poster

Sharing Poems and Stories
Two Girls Reading
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Did You Grow Up Reading Poems?

If So, What Kind of Poems Did You Like Best?

No, I Didn't.
ohcaroline on 07/14/2011

Unfortunately the only poems I was exposed to in childhood were in school. I don't remember much about them. The only poem I remember was "Snowbound". I still think about it when I get to experience a fresh snow...not much in Florida though.

Yes I did!
Jewelsofawe on 07/14/2011

Yes, Shel Silverstein was my poet!

Guest on 07/14/2011

Seems I was born with a book in the mouth vs a silver spoon, have always loved reading :)

Granny Squirrel Reading Bushy Tales

Reading Poster
Squirrel Granny Reading Bushy Tales

"Sea Fever"

by John Masefield

I spent my summers by the sea, so when I first read the poem "Sea Fever," by John Masefield, it stirred some of my feelings for the sea's power and mystery. I remember trying to memorize it and still I can feel the words as if they are waves flowing through me. The rhythm moves the reader forward and back, as if mimicking the pattern of the waves crashing to the shore.

For copyright reasons, I can't quote the poem here, but I've added a link to a page with the poem on it. In case you want a copy of the whole poem, I've included a link below to a book of John Masefield's poems and a vinyl recording of John Masefield reciting "Sea Fever" and some of his other poems.

It's funny how in my memory, and how I've heard others reciting this poem from memory, I have added the word "go" so that the first line becomes "I must go down to the seas again . . . . " There's some evidence that Masefield revised his poem to include the word "go" in a later edition of his poems, but why was it omitted in the first place? It must have a purpose -- maybe for the poem's rhythm, or maybe it reflected the local dialect. Maybe it wasn't the poet's doing at all but that of the original printer! 

Food for thought.

You can hear how the music in these lines can work on you even if you have never sailed a ship. They carry within them the movement of the sea -- something so elemental that even a young child can feel it and be moved by it.

Please share some of your own thoughts about children's poetry in the guestbook below. What was one of the poems that moved you when you were young?

Sea Fever: Poem Recited and Sung

These Videos Show How a Poem Learned Young Can Resonate Throughout One's Life

Captain Kirk Quotes "Sea Fever" in Star Trek

When a Child Learns Poems, Moments Such as This One Will Mean So Much More

Sea Fever: Selected Poems

by John Masefield
Sea Fever: Selected Poems of John Masefield

Tales of tall ships in exotic seas and of Arthurian England compete for attention with rural English ballads and mythological narratives in this collection of poetry from one ...

Carcanet Press Ltd.  / $24.95  $11.72
John Masefield Reads His Poetry

John Masefield Reads His Poetry from Folkways RecordsOriginal Publication Date: 1977Genre: Poetry

Folkways Records  / $19.98  $12.28

Mother and Child Reading

Sharing a Book with Your Child Is One of Life's Great Pleasures
Mom and Daughter Reading
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Reading Poems with Children


When you read poetry with children, you give a gift to them and to yourself. You don't even need to make the reading of poems a chore where the child has to be forced to memorize and repeat back. The nature of poetry, with its rhymes and rhythms, makes it easy to commit to memory just by repeated readings. Children are great at wanting to hear the same books over and over again. If you introduce poetry with rich language, maybe some of these favorite books may be ones that contain a poem or two.

But reading together is not just something to do while your kids are small. Many families continue to read together before bed even when their kids are teenagers and young adults (if still at home). Poems are fairly short and can be slipped in and shared in the busiest of schedules. Reading enriches all of our lives, and good literature stays with us and helps us grow no matter what our age.

These Shel Silverstein MP3's Let You Listen to These Funny Poems

Or You Can Get the Books, If You Prefer
A Light In The Attic
Only $5.99
Where The Sidewalk Ends
Only $8.99
Falling Up
$19.99  $7.19
Where the Sidewalk Ends 30th Annivers...
$18.99  $5.70
Every Thing On It
$19.99  $8.00
A Giraffe and a Half
$16.99  $7.30

A Couple of Shel Silverstein's Kids' Poems

You Can See How Easily They Lend Themselves to Be Sung

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Updated: 02/06/2013, sheilamarie
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Thanks for Reading About Children's Poems. Please Leave a Message!

ohcaroline on 07/14/2011

Poetry for children is such an enriching experience. I think it would become indelibly written on their hearts.

Jewelsofawe on 07/14/2011

Lovely page! I read poetry as a child. I have written poetry since 12. I have a few books published and on Amazon. I should write a Wizzley page about a book of mine. I do have a few poems on my page: Who is Jewelsofawe

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