Here is a list of poetry books I would recommend for use in classrooms.
- Benson, G (ed) (1990), This poem doesn’t rhyme. London: Penguin. A great way of showing children that poems do, indeed, not have to rhyme. I like Desk by Dave Calder and the powerful The Shoes by John Mole, very suitable for PSHE lessons. The Alphabet Speaks Up by David Horner is a great example of language play.
- Benson, G, Chernaik, J, Herbert, C, (2009), Best Poems on the Underground. London: Orion. A super collection of more than 300 poems used on the London Underground billboards and in trains. Some are familiar, but others are less well-known and will surprise you. Most, though, are accessible. Give it a try.
- Cookson, P (ed), (2004), Disgusting Poems. St Helen’s: Scholastic. Poems that live up to their ‘disgusting’ description, Blowing Your Own Trumpet is probably the funniest.
- Cookson, P (ed), (2010), The Works (10th anniversary edition). London: Macmillan. Organised into types of poem to fit in with the curriculum, and including lesson plans. Some content is a little predictable and over-used, but try At the end of a school day by Wes Magee, Me and my brother by Michael Rosen, or Stopping by woods on a snowy evening by Robert Frost. The extracts from Shakespeare plays are well chosen and a really good way to introduce children to the Bard.
- Duffy, C (2009), New and Collected Poems for Children. London: Faber and Faber. A marvellous and fun collection. Try Night Writing, Know All, Your Schools and F for Fox – a fabulous poem encouraging children to use alliteration and explore language.
- Harrison, M, and Stuart-Clark, C (eds) (1997), The New Dragon Book of Verse. Oxford: Oxford University Press. The Night Mail by W H Auden is a classic, while there is a super collection of sea poems including The Sea by James Reeves which will really help with teaching personification.
- McGough, Roger (ed) Sensational: Poems Inspired by the Five Senses. MacMillan. One of my favourite poetry collections. This is a brilliant selection of poems categorised into the five senses. You will find Carol Ann Duffy, John Hegley and an inspired selection from TS Eliot’s Preludes. I’d say this is a must for every classroom.
- Nichols, G (ed), (1988) Poetry Jump-Up: A Collection of Black Poetry. London: Penguin. Poems like Harriet Tubman by Eloise Crosby Culver are powerful and interesting, while An umbrella and a watch by A.K.Ramanujan are fun.
- Pyott, L (ed), (1985), The Possum Tree: 161 poems for children. London: A&C Black. My favourite is Alone in the Grange by Gregory Harrison (mentioned in the dissertation). Death of a snowman by Vernon Scannell would be excellent to use when the heavens open, and The Wind by Anne Dreyer is good fun.
- Thorton, R (ed) (1997), John Clare. London: Everyman. An introduction to John Clare’s poetry, not all suited to children, but The Ants and I Am would certainly get upper Key Stage Two children thinking.
- Waters, F (ed), (2009), Poems Then and Now, Classic and Contemporary Poems. London: Evans Brothers. Parallel poems, one from the past, one by a contemporary writers, but both on the same theme, good for comparisons.
- Waters, F (ed), (1996), The Poetry Book: Poems for children. London: Orion. Try Uncle Edward’s Affliction by Vernon Scannell, Holidays at home by Elizabeth Jennings, April Rain Song by Langston Hughes, Old People by Elizabeth Jennings, The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Airmail to a Dictionary by Lemn Sissay.