Saturday, 15 December 2018

The Best Children's Poetry Books To Buy This Christmas

Hi everyone.

It’s official. After wandering around in the wilderness for a few years (not helped by National Curriculum!) poetry for children is cool again. This is great news if you have presents to buy for children at Christmas. It’s also great news for me as it has spurred me on to finally start the process of getting my first collection of poetry for children out under my new children’s books imprint Black Bunny Books. If all goes according to plan, I hope that this time next year I’ll be recommending that you put There’s A Gorilla In My Pyjamas by Melissa Lawrence on your Christmas list!

According to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CPLE) there has been an almost 70% increase in submissions for their prestigious poetry award (CLiPPA) with 32 books from 19 different publishers submitted in 2018. So, in no particular order as they say on Strictly Come Dancing, here is my personal selection of five of the many good poetry books for children that are currently out there and which might even get your kids off their various devices for five minutes on Christmas Day.

1) Rhythm and Poetry by Karl Nova (Poetry Caboodle)

This was the 2018 winner of the CLiPPA award. The collection reflects on the poet's journey from childhood to adulthood through the medium of Hip Hop Culture. (That's RAP for those of us who think decent music ended with the death of Elvis.) Here is what one parent had to say about the book in a review on Amazon.

"Absolutely brilliant. I bought this for my 11 year old and he loves it. Highly recommended!"

2) Where Zebras Go by Sue Hardy-Dawson (Otter-Barry Books)

On the shortlist for the same award in 2018, Where Zebras Go is a “diverse and exciting” debut collection from up and coming poet Sue Hardy-Dawson who performs regularly in schools across the country. I love the first lines of her poem The Weaver of Words.

Wind, rattles clouds
carrying the song
of the weaver of words.
nails, polished
to the points of needles.

Michael Rosen is one of the most tried and trusted poets writing for children today so any collection put together by him will be sure to delight and amuse even the most poetry detesting child. Here is a sample review from Amazon which says it all:

“My children love this book. They didn't look at much poetry so I thought I'd try them with it and they actually fight to read it out!”


4) The Humpback’s Wail by Chrissie Gittins (Rabbit Hole Publications)

I have this on my own bookshelf and I can definitely recommend it. There is humour, history, word play and wonderfully quirky subject matter such as in the poem Making Cream Cakes For Tina Turner. The delightful line drawings by Paul Bommer really add to the overall attraction of the book.

“Chrissie Gittins knows just what words can do. She makes them dance, sing, sit still for am moment and then leap across the page with joy!” Ian Macmillan


5) New And Collected Poems For Children by Carol Ann Duffy (Faber & Faber)

I’ve always really, really admired and enjoyed our current poet laureate’s poems for children and you may find yourself wanting to hang onto this anthology of Duffy’s poems for yourself. This book brings together some of the best poems from her four award-winning collections for children and there are new ones too. Here are the first lines from the poem The Words of Poems.

The words of poems are nails
which tack the wind to a page,
so that the gone hour
when your kite pulled you over the field
blows in your hair.


So here’s hoping that my small, personal selection of the many great poetry books for children that are out there might help you with your Christmas shopping and keep poetry for children “cool” into 2019 and beyond. All of the books I have mentioned were available on Amazon at the time of writing this blog (just click on the links above) and you could also check out the Waterstones list of children’s poetry books, many of which are under £5.00 and would make perfect stocking-fillers.

Have a very happy Christmas!