Growing Reader


Poetry Is Actually Kinda Cool:
Great Poetry Books for Reluctant Poetry Readers

by Tom Burns

True confession: I paid an obscene amount of money for a bachelor’s degree in English and yet I never truly appreciated poetry until I had a kid.

Maybe it was caused by tedious weeks spent analyzing T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” in high school Lit classes, or by awkward nights in coffee houses watching college students use free verse as a cringe-worthy alternative to therapy, but in my youth, poetry always felt impenetrable to me. And that can be a pretty common reaction to poetry for parents and children alike.

But once you actually start reading poetry with your kids, you quickly discover how poetry can be an amazing tool for getting your children excited about reading. Poets like Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein teach kids that, when assembled correctly, even in ways that don’t seem to make sense, words can make a person feel a ridiculously deep range of emotions, and kids LOVE THAT.

If your kid isn’t sure poetry is for them, here are some collections that do a fantastic job of making poetry stop looking academic and start looking very, very cool.


  • dadofdivas

    Where the Sidewalk Ends was always a favorite of mine, but I would also add in Jack Prelusky too!

  • Christine McNamara

    and let’s not forget Frederick, Mouse Poet! (sweet video here:

    • Tom B.

      OMG, I can’t believe I forgot about Frederick. I have never, ever encountered a book (kid, adult, or otherwise) that does a better job of explaining the value of artists in society. Leo Lionni is amazing.

  • Phebe

    I feel compelled to add the classic “Polkabats and Octopus Slacks”, or any of the works of Calef Brown, (full disclosure: he’s my brother) which are full of addictive, catchy, silly poems. He (and his poems and illustrations) are thoughtful and intricate and quirky and beautiful. is a classic, and his most recent title “Hypnotize a Tiger” is for middle grades.