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Back to School Poetry Books

Heading back to school can bring up a whole lot of big feelings for kids, families, caregivers, and teachers. As your school-age learners jump back into the school year, help make the transition smoother and more fun with poetry!

Why poetry? Poetry encourages young readers to play with words, sounds, and rhymes. For new readers who are developing early literacy skills, poetry can make sounding out new words feel approachable and more fun to learn!  

If you’re not sure where to start with children’s poetry, we’ve got you covered. Try one (or a few) of these poetry books to get your kid in the back-to-school mood and ready to groove. 

Write! Write! Write! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

Even the most reluctant reader will want to start putting words on paper after reading this poetry collection. In Write! Write! Write!, an NCTE Notable Poetry Book and NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts, twenty-two poems capture the amazing power of writing by exploring every stage and aspect of the writing process, from learning the alphabet to the thrilling moment of writing a thought for the first time and even dealing with writer’s block. Writing is hard yet fulfilling, and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater embraces every part of the process in this poetry collection that brims with imagination and wonder.

Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

Read! Read! Read! by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke

Before Write! Write! Write! came Read! Read! Read!, a collection of poetry that focuses on, you guessed it, the joy of reading! Through Ryan O’Rourke’s rich artwork that beautifully captures the imagination and playfulness in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s writing, your child can celebrate reading—from that thrilling moment when they first learn to decipher words, to the excitement that follows in reading everything from road signs to field guides to internet articles to stories. 

A Bunch of Punctuation by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Serge Bloch

This collection of poems selected by noted anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins is a fun, insightful introduction to punctuation. It includes all major punctuation marks: the comma, period, question mark, exclamation mark, apostrophe, semicolon, colon, quotation marks, ellipsis, dash, hyphen, and parentheses, and features poems by well-known poets and newer voices such as Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Betsy Franco, Charles Ghigna, Joan Bransfield Graham, and more. 

School People by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Ellen Shi

School People, another collection of poems selected by noted anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins is kid-focused and thoughtful as it introduces the people who work in or around schools and their relationships with students. From nurses to custodians, there’s even a poem about the school building! 

Jumping Off Library Shelves by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Jane Manning

Where would we be without the library? The poems in this collection, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, pay homage to the marvels of books and reading! From the thrill of your first library card to the excitement of story hour Jumping Off Library Shelves celebrates the love of libraries. 

Crawly School for Bugs by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Julie Bayless

Crawly School for Bugs by David L. Harrison, illustrated by Julie Bayless

For reluctant readers and those new to poetry, Crawly School for Bugs is the perfect selection. The humor and the topic of bugs will have young readers rolling in the aisles during this laugh-out-loud collection that explores the daily life of insect students and staff at Crawly School for Bugs.

Boom! Bellow! Bleat! by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt

This collection calls for two or more voices, making it a terrific choice for schools because it’s great fun for classes to read aloud. Children will enjoy chorusing the playful poems that explore the myriad sounds animals make—from a frog’s jug-o-rum to a fish’s boom! to an elephant’s bark, and information in the poems and back matter will fit units on science, nature, and more.

Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes

Named a 2014 ALSC Notable Children’s Book in the middle readers’ category, this novel in verse follows Gabby, whose world is filled with daydreams. But those dreams begin taking over her life as the arguments of her parents escalate. Luckily, Gabby has a new teacher who can help turn those dreams into words and stories. 

A Writing Kind of Day by Ralph Fletcher

A baby sister, a Venus’s-flytrap, a failing grandmother—you can write a poem about almost anything! In this collection of poems, Ralph Fletcher takes young readers inside the creative process of poetry writing and reveals both its playfulness and power. 

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