Recommended children's booklists sorted by age or topic

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Primary Poetry


Primary Poetry Booklist

On this booklist, we have picked a selection of poetry suitable for primary school classrooms. Scroll down to find the best children’s poetry collections recommended for EYFS, KS1 and KS2.

Poetry for Early Years/Reception (Ages 3-5)

Shirley Hughes
A collection of poems about weather and seasons by much-loved children's author Shirley Hughes. A brother and sister enjoy exploring together throughout the seasons and experience the simple pleasures of the various weather conditions. With gentle rhymes and timeless illustrations, this poetry book is a real classic.
Matt Goodfellow
 & Krina Patel-Sage
"Caterpillar caterpillar caterpillar cake - it's the only thing that my mum can make!"Would you like to eat a caterpillar cake? Join a rocket race into space? See crazy crocodiles at the zany zoo or play with a furry, purry cat? Wherever these 16 fun-filled poems lead you, they will brighten your day.Splashing at the seaside, storytime at school, playing in the bath or riding home on Daddy's shoulders - this brilliant, read-aloud collection for young children has lots to join in with and lots to explore in the brightly coloured illustrations.
Michael Rosen & Polly Dunbar

Michael Rosen is a master of the word. He is a master of rhythm and rhyme and a master of the engagement of young children. This book is full of poems specifically aimed at the youngest children. It recognises that enabling children to hear and feel words in an enjoyable and engaging way, is not just a foundational skill for learning to read and write, but a fundamental entitlement for all children to be able to be introduced to the joy of playing with words.

The poems and rhymes follow the loose structure of a child’s day from the rhyme “Up” at the start to “Goodnight” at the end. In between comes rhymes that can accompany all sort of activities such as “On the swings” and feelings, like the rhyme “Happy”. The rhymes are simple and easily recalled but the joy for the child will also be in the illustrations by Polly Dunbar. Pictures of children illustrate each rhyme – my particular favourite is the illustration of the child ‘putting on’ her pyjamas to accompany the rhyme, “Jimmy Jams”.

This is a great book for a parent to share with a very young child and for teachers in the early years to read to their class. Children will quickly know their favourites and in no time will be reading along with the adult.

Reviewer: Jane Carter

Various Poets
 & Laurie Stansfield

A new collection of illustrated verses from a range of contemporary children’s poets, performers and hip-hop artists. This is the poetry collection that EYFS and KS1 classrooms have been waiting for! The poems have been selected for their suitability to read aloud and cover topics like minibeasts, pirates, animals and night time. Highly recommended.

James Carter
 & Nicola Colton
A collection of sixteen energetic poems and rhymes to ignite the senses, with topics including fireworks, food, dragons and splashy puddles. Colourful illustrations make the book a delight to look at as well as to listen to being read aloud.

Giles Andreae
 & David Wojtowycz
A brightly-illustrated collection of catchy poems about the different sorts of dinosaurs, from the author of the popular Commotion in the Ocean. These rhymes are ideal for reading aloud and learning by heart.

Poetry for Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

Elli Woollard
 & Anja Boretzki
We love this whacky A-Z of weird and wonderful pets. With a different pet poem for each letter of the alphabet (from armadillos to zebras via kookaburras to umbrella birds!), the poems are quirky and energetic, making them perfect to read aloud. Children will enjoy finding the poem that matches their name's initial or just dipping in and out of the rhythmical menagerie of verses.
Michael Rosen
 & David Tazzyman
A riotous celebration of words - silly words, funny words, words you only use in your own family, new words, old words, and the very best words in the right order. Melon Melon squashy, melon sloshy. My friend Helen's eating melon. So far, so good with Helen and her melon. But here's what I'm tellin' Helen: 'Don't SIT on your melon, Helen!' Filled with colour illustrations and packed with silly rhymes, witty wordplay and thought-provoking story poems, this collection will delight children of all ages. Michael Rosen is the bestselling author of We're Going on a Bear Hunt, along with many other picture books and collections of poetry.
James Carter
 & Neal Layton

As the title of this poetry collection says, these are ‘zippy poems to read out loud’! Each poem will excite and engage young listeners and these are the sort of poems that children will quickly join in with and learn by heart.

All of the poems are written by James Carter, who has a unique talent for poetry for the young. Each poem is illustrated by Neal Layton and this will provide additional interest when read aloud or when children are browsing the book independently. The poems have clear and wonderful rhyming patterns and this helps to create their ‘read aloud -ability’. Some poems feature repeated patterns such as the title poem, ‘A Ticket to Kalamazoo’ which has a delightful chorus to join in with and ‘Elephant beat’ has an unforgettable repeated question, ‘Fancy a ride on an elephant?’.

The subjects of the poem range from animals to adventures to new versions of traditional stories: ‘Fuss! Fuss! Fuss! or The Goldilocks Rap’ is a favourite! Minibeasts have a high profile in a few of the poems and despite their critical place in our eco-system are rarely celebrated in poetry and these poems make a useful contribution. This is a joyous collection of poetry that would be perfect to read aloud in those spare moments across the school day or in a poetry feast at the end of the day!

Fiona Waters
 & Frann Preston-Gannon

This beautiful poetry anthology that includes a new nature poem for every day of the year is likely to become a primary classroom essential. The collection of 366 poems (to make sure leap years are covered too!) contains a really interesting mix of poems from well-known favourites from Christina Rossetti and Walter de la Mare to more modern offerings by Benjamin Zephaniah and Carol Ann Duffy, with each poem reflecting the seasonal changes associated with that day’s position in the year. The book is structured into monthly sections and the poems accompanied by beautiful illustrations that celebrate the beauty of the natural world and changing seasons.

Julia Donaldson
 & Nick Sharratt
A collection of Julia Donaldson's amusing poems and rhymes that are perfect for reading aloud and sharing. The laugh-out-loud poems about everyday topics are brimming with word-play and rhyme, making this collection an excellent choice for helping children to engage with poetry in an entertaining way.

Poetry for Lower Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-9)

Roger Stevens
A collection of poems for children who love solving brainteasers and cracking codes. The illustrated anthology includes riddles, acrostics, kennings and paradiddles (you'll have to read the book if - like me- you didn't already know what a paradiddle poem is...). There is also a section of the book designated to how to write different types of puzzle poems. A brilliantly fun introduction to poetry designed to get puzzle-loving children engaged with a variety of poetic forms.
Brian Moses
 & Ed Boxall

This is a quirky, fun collection of poems from the brilliant Brian Moses. Covering topics as diverse as the eponymous komodo dragons to earwigs, vampires and librarians, there is a poem here to suit everyone. Some are crying out to be read aloud – such as Bang a Drum- while others, like The Moment, are worth reading quietly and savouring. Some will make you think (Custodian), and others will make you giggle (Labrador). Some rhyme, some don’t. My personal favourites have to be Lost in a Book and Librarians – celebrating the power of stories and the value of having someone to guide you through them. With a poem for every occasion, this book of poems is sure to be a hit in any classroom from Key Stage 1 upwards, whether it is used for reading for pleasure or as a basis for writing poetry.

Joshua Seigal
This collection of poems was shortlisted for the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Book Awards and it is not hard to see why, as each poem is designed to raise a chuckle. From the clever and witty to the downright silly, this imaginative collection of verses is likely to win over reluctant readers and be passed from pupil to pupil in KS2 classrooms.
The School of Life
Emotions are like animals: No two are quite the same. Some are quiet; some are fierce; And all are hard to tame. An Emotional Menagerie is an emotional glossary for children. A book of 26 rhyming poems, arranged alphabetically, that bring our feelings to life - Anger, Boredom, Curiosity, Dreaminess, Embarrassment, Fear, Guilt, and more. The poems transform each emotion into a different animal to provide a clear and engaging illustration of its character: how it arises; how it makes us behave and how we can learn to manage its effects. Boasting a rich vocabulary, the poems also give children a wide variety of options for describing their feelings to others. Children experience all sorts of emotions: sometimes going through several very different ones before breakfast. Yet they can struggle to put these feelings into words. An inability to understand and communicate their moods can lead to bad behaviour, deep frustration and a whole host of difficulties further down the line. Like adults, they need help to recognise and verbalise their inner state. The greater their emotional vocabulary, the more likely they are to grow into happy, healthy and fulfilled adults. Filled with wise, therapeutic advice, brought to life through musical language and beautiful illustrations, An Emotional Menagerie is an imaginative and universally appealing way of increasing emotional literacy.
Robert Macfarlane
 & Jackie Morris

The Lost Words is a collaboration between Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, seeking to ‘summon what has vanished’ and celebrate a host of disappearing words relating to the natural world. This is a poetry book about preservation – of nature, of language and of childhood – and the beautifully illustrated over-sized hardback volume is in itself a book to preserve and treasure. Inside the book, readers will find acrostic ‘poem-spells’, with each one intending to preserve a nature word that has disappeared from the dictionary as well as to evoke the unique sounds, sensations and moods associated with the experiences of encountering wildlife firsthand.

Inspired by the removal of a number of nature words from children’s dictionaries while the same plants and animals are in very real decline, this magnificent book will please children and adults alike. Each word is accompanied by a breathtaking illustration and poem (or ‘spell’ – the authors encourage you to sing them). Children with an interest in the natural world will discover new words along the way.

Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee & Sue Hardy-Dawson
This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.

Poetry for Upper Key Stage 2 (Ages 9-11)

Joseph Coelho
 & Kate Milner
Award-winning poet Joseph Coelho depicts one boy's experiences of growing up in a tower block, told through a series of poems that explore different aspects of growing up, including parental separation, school bullies, exam results and adolescence. The poems are powerful, thought-provoking and vivid, with themes that will feel relatable to many young people. This is an excellent collection to dip and out of, suitable for the crossover between Upper KS2 and Lower KS3.
Benjamin Zephaniah
Enter the crazy world of rap poet Benjamin Zephaniah! A reissue of the wonderfully irreverent collection of poetry for young people, touching on anything from vegetables to the Queen and from sewage to the sun. There's plenty of humour as well as poems on racism, pollution and the murder of a cat.
Various authors
 & Various illustrators

Many classrooms have poetry book with the classics – which are fabulous – but this collection really celebrates modern, diverse poets and their poetry.

The poems in this book will directly relate to children’s experiences of life and the emotions they will have felt. Some poems tackle more challenging emotions that arise from bullying or sadness and one poem tackles an often unspoken emotion – embarrassment. Some of these poems may need to be introduced sensitively, but the language and range of poetry styles make them accessible to explore as well as providing useful springboards for the discussion of feelings.

Some of the poems lend themselves to being spoken out loud and poems such as ‘Stomp’ and ‘It’s like this’ in the collection almost demand performance. Others are well suited to quiet reflection. The poems are written by a wide and diverse range of poets and this collection makes it a good introduction to some of the great children’s poets of today.

At the back of the book, there are photographs and short biographies of each of the poets. What this makes explicit for children is the diversity of poets as well as their achievements. Many of the poems would work well as models for children’s own poetry writing, with clear patterns that could be followed. For example, the first poem ‘If you could see laughter’ asks us to see laughter as a colour and something we can visualise. Each poem is illustrated in a different style and children could easily identify their favourite illustration. This is a great collection for any classroom.

Zaro Weil
 & Junli Song
Nominated for the 2023 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing and the Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration.Original, inspiring and intimate, When Poems Fall From the Sky marries science and poetry to create a tender and thoughtful love-letter to Earth promising children a riot of imagination, humour and joy – the perfect book to celebrate National Poetry Day on 6th October.The collection of poems, raps, rhymes, haiku and little plays is written by Zaro Weil, winner of the 2020 CLiPPA children's poetry prize and is illustrated in full colour throughout by artist Junli Song.When Poems Fall From the Sky is the first title to publish since the pair won the coveted CLiPPA prize with their stunning poetry anthology, Cherry Moon.In exquisitely illustrated full-colour pages, trees, birds, animals, rivers, flowers, mountains and insects each share their own magical stories. And the stories they tell, the 'poems' that fall from the sky, subtly and powerfully illuminate our hope and collective role as guardians of our earth.
Matt Goodfellow
 & Aleksei Bitskoff
A brilliant, prize-winning collection of poems by Matt Goodfellow which is funny, engaging and touching in turns.What if cats had flavoured fur or if you swallowed the sun? What if you were a special kind of badger or if you found a map to the stars? And what if your home was split during the week: one half at Mum's, the other half at Dad's?Packed with brilliant poems that explore a whole range of themes from the downright silly to the sensitive, this collection will delight, enthuse and resonate with children and adults alike. Winner of the 2020 North Somerset Teachers' Book Award for best children's poetry book.

Mandy Coe
The life-affirming ‘You are Here,' on the first page is a wonderful introduction and sets the positive and optimistic tone for the poems to come with the final line; ‘You are Here! You are Here!' The book is jam-packed with original verse; all of them perfectly written for reading aloud - well suited for both pure enjoyment and also as a base for children's own poetry within their English lesson. Each poem explores different aspects of a child's life; from rainy days in ‘Puddle Ocean' to wandering around a house at night in ‘Tiptoe'. ‘Helping Hands' touches on the complexity and diversity within each and every family; it really is beautiful to read and savour, while ‘Save You' would be a really powerful poem to use as part of topic work around conservation. There's a tone of warmth and wonder in the collection's everyday observations that encourages the reader to find so many things to enjoy in the mundane moments that they share with those around them. Themes of inclusion, positivity and seeing the world through the eyes of others weave through the collection as well as a sense of humour and playfulness that sees puzzles and riddles mixed in with the poems. Belonging Street would be a great investment for every Key Stage Two classroom reading area.

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