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April is National Poetry Month

April 1, 2013

Let the celebration begin! April is the month when we shine the spotlight on POETRY! You may not realize it, and you may think that you “don’t like” poetry, but you know, poetry comes in so many different forms that you may not even be aware of how it influences us. Think of those catchy jingles on commercials, those nursery rhymes we still hold so dear, so many love songs, and really how many of us learned to read with the help of Dr. Seuss? Face it, you really do like poetry and you didn’t even know!

“Rhymes make me feel better when I’m down. the midwife, Gertrude, told me that rhymes were a waste of brain space, but I like the way they sound. When you say the words and the sounds match, it feels like everything in the world is in it’s place and whatever you say is powerful and true.” – Liesl Shurtliff, RUMP: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin

Today we are sharing a few of our favorite books of poetry:

Once Upon a Twice by Denise Doyen, illustrated by Barry Moser

Once Upon a Twice

I must admit, I was first attracted to this picture book on the basis of Barry Moser’s amazing artwork. Once I read the first few pages, however, I was immediately captivated by Denise Doyen’s clever rhymes and inventive wordplay reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. This is a wonderful read-aloud, but not for the faint-hearted, as it deals with the fears we all have about the night and dangers lurking. –Tim

Railway Rhymes  by R. Schuyler Hooke, illustrated by Richard Courtney

Railway Rhymes

With two boys who have been obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine at different times, I’ve spent the better part of 10 years familiarizing myself with the oeuvre. Lucky (?) for me, Random House publishes all Thomas books in the USA! I can honestly say I have a favorite, a book of poetry called Railway Rhymes. Most of the poems are short, they are all different formats (even Haiku!) and I can plow through most of the book in one sitting. Plus I don’t have to sit through wordy stories with suspect lessons, which most of the original stories are! –Deanna 

I Like Old Clothes by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Patrice Barton

I Like Old Clothes

Sarah W. shared her favorite lines from Mary Ann Hoberman’s recently re-released I Like Old Clothes:

I like old clothes,


Worn outgrown clothes,

Not-my own clothes.

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Al Perkins, illustrated by Eric Gurney

Hand Hand Fingers Thumb

I sold this book for years but had no idea how wonderful it was until I read it aloud to Emerson as a baby. It immediately became a family favorite. It is true poetry the way the rhyming words blend with the rhythm. Dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum…-Dandy

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

A Light in the Attic

When I was a child, my very favorite poet was Shel Silverstein, so when I had kids of my own, his classic books of poetry, like A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends were among the first books I bought for their libraries. Many nights we end our bedtime story routine with a few of his short, hilarious poems. Favorites include “Boa Constrictor” (Oh heck, it’s up to my neck!) and “Crowded Tub” (I just washed a behind that I’m sure wasn’t mine/there are too many kids in this tub.) Few other children’s poets manage to capture the zany, clever feel of his poems in words that appeal to kids and their parents. –Erin

The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss

The Butter Battle Book

When I think of poetry in kids books I automatically think of Dr. Seuss! Any Seuss title can be used to celebrate poetry, not just because his stories rhyme, but because they are a perfect combination of the rhythmic, the metaphorical…His stories are allegorical and far from ostensible—in other words they are beautiful and make you think! For me, The Butter Battle Book is a Dr. Seuss book that never gets mentioned enough so I will do so here. I LOVE THIS BOOK! An anti-war story, and a parable about arms races, there are many reasons why The Butter Battle book is an important book that can bridge discussion about war and possible consequences that they create.  It’s also quite amusing since the war between the two cultures in this book is born out of the senseless conflict  over toast: The “Yooks” eat their toast with the butter-side up, while the “Zooks” eat their toast with the butter-side down. If you’re looking for a Seuss title that will expand your knowledge of repertoire of his work (while also celebrating poetry month!) then this is the book for you! Though grown-ups and older kids may enjoy it the most. –Bobbie

Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Eric Beddows

Joyful Noise

Spring and Poetry Month collide in the best way in this collection of “poems for two voices”, that’s all about insects. Yes, insects. You can hear the sound of their lives as these poems chart the changing of the seasons. Perfect for reading aloud in the classroom or maybe around a campfire, this book celebrates life and words. –Kate

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marc Brown

Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young

The gold standard for poetry books, this collection is the book that I would recommend be on every nursery bookshelf. It’s never too early to share poetry and words with children, and these delightful short poems are fun for the reader and the listener. –Kate


Little seeds we sow in spring,

growing while the robins sing,

give us carrots, peas and beans,

tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and greens.

And we pick them,

one and all,

through the summer,

through the fall.

Winter comes, then spring, and then

little seeds we sow again.

-Else Holmelund Minarik


Thanks for joining us at RAoReading today, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Please share your thoughts in our comments section – bonus points for rhyming comments!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 1, 2013 11:07 am

    I love children’s poetry – I think it’s because it’s on my level.

  2. April 1, 2013 5:28 pm

    Yay for Rump and rhymes! I love children’s poetry. Shel Silverstein was always a favorite.

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