April Is For Poetry Lovers
National Poetry Month in April is special to me. It is an entire month dedicated to celebrating the importance of poetry. Poets can offer joy and wisdom through their poems, as well as bringing awareness to worldly issues. I enjoy reading (and writing) poetry and I want to share with you some of my favorite poetry books. I have selected books that will help inspire writers and aspiring poets and offer uplifting ideas to readers.
Shayna’s Top 12 Poetry Picks
Sing a Song of Seasons
My first recommendation is a book that is great for kids and adults. Sing a Song of Seasons is a lovely book that has a poem for each day of the year. Each page contains a poem that is relevant to the season it is written in, and the illustrations are simply beautiful. You’ll come across familiar poets such as Emily Dickinson and William Shakespeare. This book is perfect for those who want to expose their child to poetry because you can read them a new poem every day for an entire year. It is also perfect for adults who use imagery and nature to inspire their poems or their writing. It is one of my favorite poetry books, I check it out every year!
For Every One
If you’re looking for raw, real and uplifting poems then my next pick is a great choice. My next recommendation is For Every One by Jason Reynolds. This poetry book is a powerful letter to readers, encouraging them to keep chasing their dreams and never give up. The author uses uplifting words in the form of poetry, creating a lyrical masterpiece. One of my favorite take-away’s from this book is the author reiterates that dreams take time but, you have to get back up every time you fall. This book is great for someone who feels lost or down in their life as it is a reminder to get back up and dream!
Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems About White House Pets
When you think of poetry, you might think of rhymes. A lot of poems do have rhymes sprinkled throughout, and that can make reading and writing poetry a lot more fun. It allows a writer to let loose when they’re writing their next poem.
My next book recommendation is full of rhymes and creative humor—Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems About White House Pets by Marilyn Singer. This book is so much fun and informative. The author writes fun, bouncy poems about past presidents and their pets, sprinkled with a dose of humor. The artwork is also fun, and it exposes the creative nature of the poems. What I enjoyed most about this book was at the end the author writes more details about the presidents mentioned, and their unique pets. You learn that president Abraham Lincoln actually had a pet turkey who was pardoned at Thanksgiving, and many other fun stories about presidential history.
America the Beautiful
Another great educational poetry book with gorgeous illustrations is America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates. Most associate this poem with the famous song but, it was actually a poem that inspired the song! This book is breathtakingly beautiful as it takes us through America using watercolor paintings by the famous Wendell Minor. Similar to my previous recommendation, this book offers educational insight at the end of the book to the locations mentioned and shown across the USA.
Girls Write Now: Two Decades of True Stories from Young Female Voices
What does it mean to be a young woman in America? My next recommendation answers that question through the voices of young female writers who want their voices heard.
Girls Write Now: Two Decades of True Stories from Young Female Voices is an inspirational collection of stories about sex, religion, race, gender, poverty, education, politics, family, and friendship. This book is directed towards young adults but, adults would enjoy it too. Interwoven throughout the books is excellent advice given directly from great women writers such as Roxanne Gray, Zadie Smith, and Lena Dunham. I enjoyed this book because it shines a light on the many issues that women of all ages are faced with, in this country. These writers wrote their stories exposing their bare hopes, their dreams, and their insecurities.
It is a powerful thing to be so open in your writing, and in your poetry, and it can be a difficult task for some aspiring writers and poets. This book is great to read if you’re needing motivation and guidance from real people who experienced similar struggles.
Another one of my favorite feminism poetry books is Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson. The author wrote this poetic memoir because she was inspired by her fans. She is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault and her writing is powerful, loud and impossible to ignore. This poetry memoir is important and it is a love letter to all the people with the courage to speak up. I really enjoyed reading this soul-searching memoir because you get a glimpse into the authors personal stories from her life that she has never written about before, in poetic form.
The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems
Have you ever thought about how to scare monsters away? Or how to be a mole? Yes, these are unusual things to think about and you might have to stretch your imagination a little bit to find the answers.
My next pick is another one of my favorite poetry books: The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems by Paul B. Janeczko. There are 33 wonderful poems written by a variety of poets in this book, and the poems cover a lot of different subjects from animals to food. The poems are unique and they are paired with soft, full-page illustrations that complement each poem perfectly. What I love most about this book is that it encourages its readers to think critically about everyday life or objects, and to pay attention to the world and its countless possibilities. If you’re wondering how to scare monsters away, or how to be a mole, the answers are in this book!
Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems
Written by the same author, Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems, is another favorite of mine. This book contains 36 very short poems that are relevant to the season they’re written in. It begins with the season spring, and it ends with winter. Each page is beautifully and imaginatively illustrated, reminding readers young and old that a few perfect words and pictures can make the world glow. I really like how this book showcases pieces of the four seasons in different ways, such as explaining a foggy screen door in fall or an orange tabby cat prowling through a field of daisies during the summer. I like that it is an inviting poetry book, and even though each poem contains few words they create strong images nonetheless. Children and adults will enjoy the whimsical imagery and short poems in this book.
Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance
One of my favorite poetry forms to use is the Golden Shovel. To put it simply, in Golden Shovel poetry you take a short poem in its entirety or a line from the poem, and you create a new poem using the words from the original. It is a difficult form of poetry because the poet is forced to use the words from the original poem but, that is what makes it so exciting.
In my next recommendation, every poem is written using the Golden Shovel method. In Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes, the author has taken original poems written by some of the most gifted female poets during the Harlem Renaissance and has written her own Golden Shovel poems that were inspired by these groundbreaking women. I adore this collection of poetry because it is educational, inspiring and each poem is paired with a one-of-a-kind art illustration from today’s most exciting female African American illustrators. I encourage aspiring poets and writers to read this book and to try this form of poetry. Who knows what amazing pieces you’ll create!
In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House
If you were to write a poem, what would it be about? Usually before a writer sits down to work on their next poem, or their next story, they are inspired first. Inspiration is key when you are an aspiring writer or poet.
This next book is one of my favorites because it is all about inspiration, and imagination. My next pick is titled In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House by Laura Purdie Salas. I’m sure we can all remember being children who imagined (and maybe believed) that our toys, and the objects in our room, came to life when we fell asleep at night.
This book showcases the adventures that the everyday household objects in our homes do at night while we are sound asleep. Everything from stuffed animals to paper clips to snacks to an overdue library book. The first time I read this book, the author’s creativity and imagination astounded me and I love the illustrations depicting the wild adventures of the objects. There are 26 imaginative poems in this book, and it is sure to spark the imagination in readers of all ages.
Sometimes poetry is searing and raw but, sometimes it is written with a feather-light touch and charm. That is what my next recommendation is all about—Hi, Koo! by Jon J. Muth is a great poetry book that will challenge its readers to stretch their minds and imaginations. We follow the adorable panda bear cub, Koo, and two human siblings through 26 haiku’s about the four seasons. The lively trio explore fall, winter, spring, and summer with haiku and humor. I loved that this book captivated my imagination and it reminded me to slow down and pay attention to the small, beautiful details that we tend to miss in life and in nature. It is perfect for children, especially if they are experimenting with writing their own haiku’s.
Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems
My final recommendation is by the beloved and acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye. It is titled Everything Comes Next: Collected and New Poems and it features new, never-before-published poems. The author collected her most popular and accessible poems from the past 40 years and put them into this book. It is a treasure chest of her most beloved poems, such as “Famous” and “A Valentine for Ernest Mann”. I enjoy reading this author’s poetry because she has a way of focusing on the small and minuscule things in life and bringing out the wonder in those things. For readers of all ages, I recommend checking out this collection of amazing poetry.
Celebrate National Poetry Month
Each year the entire month of April is dedicated to celebrating poetry and poets. Here are some ways you can celebrate National Poetry Month:
- Check out my recommendations, of course! You can also find a variety of other titles in our collection, and online. By doing this, you can challenge yourself to read one poem a day.
- Join us for the Poetry Reading with the Library via Zoom, April 6 at 6:30 PM. Register here.
- Grab a journal and pen, or fire up your laptop and start writing your own poetry. There are different forms, such as haiku, free verse, ballads and acrostic.
- Join us for The Write Group via Zoom. We meet the last Monday of every month to discuss writing, share stories, and take part in fun interactive activities. For April’s meeting, we are focusing on, you guessed it, poetry! Register here.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article, and I hope you have added some great poetry books to your to-be-read pile. Happy reading, and happy writing!