When I taught primary students, I used poems to explain so much! Good poetry teaches children about inflection and structure of literature; grammar and punctuation importance with a dash of creative licensing. My son's room is full of books of poetry, and we love reading poems that tickle our funny bones!
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Here are some of our favorites!
1. Jack Prelutsky
Jack Prelutsky is one of my favorite authors and one I turned to often in the classroom. As a young student, he said that he hated poetry, and hated school in general, but when teachers realized he had musical talent, he learned that there was a connection between music and prose. As a young adult, he had odd jobs and loved to draw imaginary animals, so when a friend encouraged him to submit them to a publisher, he wrote a few silly poems to go along with them.
His first book was A Gopher in the Garden and Other Animal Poems and he's written more than 50 poetry collections that include Something BIG Has Been Here - which is my favorite!
An icon in children's literature and poetry, Shel Silverstein is best known for Where The Sidewalk Ends and The Giving Tree (don't read without tissues!), and his poetry spans all ages. A Light in the Attic stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for two years, and his whimsical words and illustrations are like no other. He was also a musician and a songwriter, and his work lives on in his books and even in songs written for Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Mel Tillis.
Yolande Cornelia 'Nikki' Giovanni is a talented author and poet and was the first recipient of the Rosa Parks Woman of Courage Award. Highly-acclaimed as an activist, an educator and an advocate, she has written volumes of poetry and won countless awards. She was a Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech and wrote a touching memorial poem after the tragic Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.
Her children's poetry books are full of diversity and truth and written in an authentic voice that children love to hear.
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I love the gorgeous imagery Joyce Sidman creates with her words particularly because she uses them to color nature at its finest. Her poems are perfect for little minds that are curious about the world around them, and the artwork that goes along is just beautiful and captivating for kids of all ages, even though the wording may be more for 3rd-4th graders and up.
You may know her best for her story about Alexander and His Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Awful Day, but Viorst is also a talented poet! Her latest, What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? takes children on a tour of their feelings with wit and gentle compassion that even adults will find very relatable.