Poetry – it proves that words have power. They can move you to tears or inspire you to act. How each of us discovers a poet whose works speak to us or a poem that really resonates is always different. There’s no reason or pre-requisit to like poetry or a poem. Seriously.
In this Shelf Sightings post, I will share some interesting poetry books for middle grade readers that I spotted on a shelf at the library. I hope they will inspire young readers to write their own poems and engage with this form of writing in a way that’s meaningful for them.
Title: My Thoughts Are Clouds: Poems for Mindfulness
Written by: Georgia Heard
Illustrated by: Isabel Roxas
What It’s About: Poets have long observed the world in a mindful way. They point out beauty we might have missed, draw our attention to our inner thoughts, and call us to see our society in new ways.
But as daily life become more and more chaotic, children grow distracted. According to the CDC, 9.4% of children have ADHD and 7% have anxiety/depression. And these numbers continue to climb. As treatment doctors recommend healthy eating, physical activity, plenty of sleep, and mindfulness techniques.
Georgia Heard is a poet and educator—and she has long had her own meditation practice. In My Thoughts Are Clouds, she uses poetry to demonstrate what mindfulness is and gives kids—and their parents and teachers—accessible ways to learn mindfulness tools.
Title: Beautiful Day!: Petite Poems for All Seasons
Written by: Rodoula Pappa
Illustrated by: Seng Soun Ratanavanh
What It’s About: A picture book of haiku-inspired poems celebrating the four seasons
Teach me, too, how to fly,
In simple, poetic verse, a child observes their world from spring to summer, and autumn through winter, in this gentle ode to the seasons, accompanied by exquisite illustrations
Title: Night Wishes
Edited by: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Illustrated by: Jen Corace
What It’s About: How would a clock, nightlight, or teddy bear say good night? In this enchanting poetry collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and thirteen other poets imagine the wishes whispering through a young girl’s bedroom as she falls asleep. The bookshelf’s stories curl through her head; the pillow transforms into a hot air balloon; the rocking horse waits expectantly for tomorrow’s adventures. Stunning gouache illustrations by Jen Corace offer new details to discover with every reading.
Perfect for bedtime reading and re-reading, Night Wishes will transport young readers into a wonderful, whimsical world of dreams.
Includes poems by…
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Matt Forrest Esenwine
– plus many more!
Title: A World Full of Poems
Collected by: D.K. Publishing
What It’s About: A gorgeously illustrated introduction to poetry for children, featuring poems about everything from science, sports, and space, to friendship, family, and feelings.
This thoughtfully crafted anthology is perfect for children new to verse and for young poetry fans seeking out new favorites. Explore poetry from a diverse selection of contemporary and historical poets, covering a broad range of topics–from personal subjects like emotions and family, to the wonders of the natural environment. Carefully selected works encourage children to see the poetry in everything and to embrace the beauty of their everyday lives.
Poems are complemented by detailed illustrations, timelines, and interesting facts about the topics covered, ensuring that the poems are not just entertaining, but relevant, topical, and informative.
Prompts and activities inspire children to create their own poetry, and devices like rhyme, repetition, and alliteration are introduced and explained in a fun and accessible manner.
Title: Carry On: Poetry by Young Immigrants
Edited by: Simon Boulerice
Illustrated by: Rogé Girard
What It’s About: Carry On began in a high school in Outremont, Quebec, where author and poet Simon Boulerice conducted creative-writing workshops for young newcomers to Canada. As the students began writing, their poems gave voice to their reflections on leaving family, friends, and countries of origin to make new homes and connections in their new home, Canada.
Paired with expressive portraits by award-winning artist Rogé, each young writer reflects on the experience of leaving one home for another. The collection of poems express feelings of anxiety, sorrow, anticipation, gratitude, and hope for the future. With thoughtful verse and evocative illustrations, Carry On is a tribute to human resilience, the voices of newcomers, and creating empathy for all those who wonder about their place in the world.
Title: The One Thing You’d Save
Written by: Linda Sue Park
Illustrated by: Robert Sae-Heng
What It’s About: When a teacher asks her class what one thing they would save in an emergency, some students know the answer right away. Others come to their decisions more slowly. And some change their minds when they hear their classmates’ responses. A lively dialog ignites as the students discover unexpected facets of one another—and themselves. With her ear for authentic dialog and knowledge of tweens’ priorities and emotions, Linda Sue Park brings the varied voices of an inclusive classroom to life through carefully honed, engaging, and instantly accessible verse.
Title: A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Written by: Zetta Elliott
Illustrated by: Noa Denmon
What It’s About: In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.
There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.
Summertime is filled with joy-skateboarding and playing basketball-until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.
In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child”s experiences following a police shooting-through grief and protests, healing and community-with washes of color as vibrant as his words.
Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers-children and adults alike-talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.
Title: I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage
Edited by: Lee Bennett Hopkins
What It’s About: I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage brings together the work of fourteen award-winning poets and sixteen illustrators of diverse backgrounds who share aspects of their childhood experiences in honest portraits of what it was like for them growing up in the United States.
Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander takes us on a riotous ride through good times and sad spent with his extended family, which is perfectly captured by Coretta Scott King Award winner Michele Wood’s vibrant overflowing and overlapping images. Pura Belpré Award winner Margarita Engle shares happy memories of learning embroidery from her grandmother, accompanied by Ecuadorean fine artist and printmaker Paula Barragán’s colorful graphic representation of a granddaughter and grandmother at work. Bestselling author Nick Bruel talks about his confusion over having to define himself by a single racial label, which is brought to life by newcomer Janine Macbeth’s reflective image of herself trying to figure out her own mixed ancestry.
Together these heartfelt poems and captivating illustrations shine a light on the rich diversity of people in our nation as well as the timeless human connections and universal experiences we all share. Readers of any age and background are sure to find much that spark their memories and open their eyes.
Featuring poems by Douglas Florian, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jorge Tetl Argueta, Marilyn Nelson, Nick Bruel, G. Neri, Jane Yolen, Joseph Bruchac, and Carole Boston Weatherford, and illustrations by Sean Qualls, Simone Shin, Insoo Kim, Michele Wood, Paula Barragán, Neil Waldman, Jeanne Rorex Bridges, Sawsan Chalabi, Rafael López, R. Gregory Christie, Janine Macbeth, Charlotte Riley-Webb, Julie Downing, David Fadden, Daniel Minter, and Juliet Menéndez.