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Our top 10 poetry books

Here are some of our favourite poetry books for you to enjoy.

See here for more about poetry and ideas for things to do.

brian_wildsmithBrian Wildsmith’s Favourite Nursery Rhymes Brian Wildsmith
Age 0-5

A wonderful treasury of over eighty traditional nursery rhymes to share and enjoy. Beautifully illustrated by the brilliant Brian Wildsmith to delight the eyes and the imagination.

ted hughesCollected Poems for Children Ted Hughes
Faber and Faber   
Age 5-7+

This is a fantastic collection of poems by one of the best poets for children. The book begins with poems to read aloud to the youngest and finishes with poems to interest older children. It’s a book to enjoy now, and grow into later. Raymond Briggs illustrates the poems with his usual wit and perception. Hear him read ‘The Thought Fox’.

everybody was a babyEverybody was a baby once Allan Ahlberg, Brian Ingman
Age 3-7

One day a boy went walking, and walked into a store. He bought a pound of sausages, and put them on the floor. The boy began to whistle, he whistled up a tune. And all the little sausages danced around the room…’ This is a rumbustious collection of irresistible characters including babies, robbers, lizards and sausages. All are combined with nursery rhymes in unexpected ways, with much imagination and humour. Hear Allan Ahlberg  read ‘The Sausage Whistler’ and ‘Dirty Bill’ from the book.

heres a little poemHere’s a Little Poem Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Age 0-5

Here’s a sumptuous compendium of over fifty poems and catchy rhymes for the very young and parents to enjoy together. With poems by contemporary and classic poets, including John Agard, AA Milne and Langston Hughes, and gentle, joyful illustrations by Polly Dunbar this is a perfect introduction to poetry for young children.

luckyLucky Roger McGough
Frances Lincoln
Age 5-7+

This is a wonderfully witty collection of wordplay, poetry and riddles by a favourite writer. Children can find out how to please a weasel, what happened to Lucky and have a giggle together. See and hear him read, ‘No Peas for the Wicked’.

great big cuddleA Great Big Cuddle Michael Rosen, Chris Riddell (illus)
Age 0-5 years

What a delight this book is! Full of fun and language play, it’s a perfect entry to the world of poetry and rhyme. Very young children will want to hear, read and repeat these contemporary rhymes again and again, just as they do traditional nursery rhymes. They can dance to The Button Bop: Bottom button/Top Button/Bottom button/Bop and be reassured by Mum’s great big cuddle in Mo’s in a muddle/She slipped in a puddle. The playful Reading Lesson finishes with Now you can read you can all go and play, yet the chances are children will want you to read it at least one more time.

An inspired bringing together of a great poet, Michael Rosen, and a great illustrator, Chris Riddell, with joyous results. Look here for some readings of the poems.

over the hillsOver the Hills and Far Away Nursery Rhymes from around the World Eiizabeth Hammill Frances Lincoln
Age 5-7

A star-studded collection of over 150 poems, nursery rhymes and lullabies illustrated by 76 award-winning, international artists. Produced by Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, this is a book to treasure for children and one they will want to return to time and again. Each double page is illustrated by a different artist, providing an amazing visual journey through the poems.

utterly brilliantThe Puffin Book of Utterly Briiliant Poetry Brian Patten
Age 5-7+

An utterly brilliant book of brilliant poetry collected by Brian Pattern. There are clusters of poems by Roger McGough, Jackie Kay, Benjamin Zephania, Charles Causley, Allan Ahlberg and Kit Wright, and more, and each poet is illustrated by a different, brilliant artist. Hear and see Benjamin Zephaniah reading,
‘I love My Mother’.

rumble in the jungleRumble in the Jungle Giles Andreae
Tiger Tales
Age 3-7

Come along to join the rumble in the jungle and hear the whispers in the trees. Marching ants set off early in the morning, encountering a range of African animals on their dawn ‘til dusk journey. There’s a verse for each animal and a strong rhythm pulses though the book accompanied by humour and dazzling illustrations. A book to read at bedtime, too, with all the characters asleep by the end of their long day’s journey into night. Watch a version of the book here.

wriggle and roarWriggle and Roar Julia Donaldson
Age 0-5

Wriggle and giggle, snap like a crocodile, slither like a snake and ROAR! These original rhymes are guaranteed to engage children’s minds, mouths, bodies and imaginations. Nick Sharratt’s illustrations add to the fun and humour.

There is a lot to talk about here, in particular about endangered animals and the world’s rainforests. When children know the book well they might enjoy imagining they are one of the animals and telling the story of their escape from the zoo and what might happen after the story ends.