Monday, April 9, 2012

Please Pass the Poetry: 6 New Poetry Books for Middle Graders

silly poetry...

April is National Poetry Month, but, unfortunately, tell that to a bunch of middle graders, and you just might get a groan or two (or is this only the students at the school where I work as a school librarian?). Anyway, I've found the key to poetry and middle graders is to jump right in. Don't talk about it--start reading! After all, poetry is meant to be heard, not just seen.

Here are some new poetry collections that I am looking forward to ambushing my middle graders with this month.

by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Will Terry (Illustrations). Dial, 2012.
ISBN 0803737165 (ISBN13: 9780803737167)

Bugs and poems! From ticks to bed bugs to lice, the creepy and the crawly are sure to drawn in the middle graders who love the yuck factor. By a slew of illustrious poets such as Marilyn Singer and Lee Bennett Hopkins.

by Douglas Florian, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
ISBN 0547688385 (ISBN13: 9780547688381)

Baseball--the other big April event, right? This book of baseball-themed poems, complete with Douglas Florian's great illustrations will appeal to anyone who's ever spent any time at all at the ball field.

by Susan Katz, Robert Neubecker (Illustrator),  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
ISBN 054718221X (ISBN13: 9780547182216)

Who doesn't love quirky facts about famous people? Especially people as important (and, let's face it . . . stuffy) as the presidents. 43 poems highlight little known facts about all those leaders of the free world. With historical notes, too.

by J. Patrick Lewis, Michael Slack, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.
ISBN 0547513380 (ISBN13: 9780547513386)

This is the perfect example of "read it, don't talk about it!" Because these are math riddles wrapped in parodies of classic poems. Yeah, don't say "huh?," just go read them. And you might want to have the originals on hand when you share them with kids because they'll be asking for them for sure. By Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis.

by Rick Lieder, Helen Frost, Candlewick Press, 2012.
ISBN 0763656011 (ISBN13: 9780763656010)

This one slows it down a little--instead of rowdy, funny poems, it's one poem, about stopping to really see what's around you in nature. Paired with stunning photographs that get even the most antsy middle grader looking closer.

by Ntozake Shange, Rod Brown, Amistad Press, 2012.
ISBN 0061337412 (ISBN13: 9780061337413)

An example of a picture book made for older kids. This one's free verse poems about the Underground Railroad. Their emotion puts readers (and listeners) right there in that world. Perfect for an immediate taste of history.

And finally,

by Laura Purdie Salas, Capstone Press, 2012.
ISBN 1429672099 (ISBN13: 9781429672092)

Okay, so this isn't a book of poems. But who doesn't share poems with kids without wanting to try some of their own? Laura Purdy Salas covers the basics while using pictures as inspiration.

Happy poetry reading! Do you have more ideas? Be sure to add your favorite middle grade poetry books in the comments.


  1. I love kids' poetry and (thankfully) so do my kids!
    This is a great resource--thank you! the president in the bathtub and Poe's pie have tickled my interest already...

  2. Oh man. Step Gently Out, with the ant on the leaf? That looks gorgeous. And it's all one single poem? Interesting.

  3. Hi Project Mayhem! I tried to access your email address, but for some reason I am unable to get into Microsoft Outlook. I was hoping to contact you about a possible book review. If you have a moment, could you email me? Thanks so much. Oh, by the way, you have been added to Middle Grade Mania -

  4. Love this post! It makes me happy to see all these great new books and to hear poetry is alive and well at your school. I'm filing all these titles away.

  5. I love that poetry is getting so much play lately! I think it really helps open up kids minds to different ways to write and put what they're feeling on paper! :)

  6. Yes! Totally all for spreading a little poetry around. One book I know and love is Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston -- it's a novel entirely in verse. Seriously. And it's the wackiest adventure ever, like Dr. Seuss crossed with Lemony Snicket. :D Thanks for putting these books on my radar!

  7. I have the same tastes as Kristen Wixted it seems!

    My attempts at getting 5th graders to write poetry weren't as impressive as when they wrote prose. Next time, I'll use one of these books to soften them up before hand...

  8. Nasty Bugs looks interesting to me. Having worked as a Naturalist and seen all kinds of reactions to insects I'm betting there's some fun stuff in that book!!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!