Top 5: Poetry for the Very Young

Poetry is a perfect way to introduce your child to the sheer pleasure of words, playing with rhythm, rhyme, humour and imagination. Even a baby will enjoy the musical qualities of poems read aloud, even if they don’t quite understand their meaning.

Of course a great many picture books are written in rhyme – Each Peach Pear Plum, the Madeline books, Drummer Hoff, Mister Magnolia, and the entire works of Dr. Seuss for example! Here are some poetry collections and classics to begin with, suitable for infants on up. (Click on links for full reviews.)   Coming soon: poems for preschoolers (3 to 6).

1. The Mother Goose Treasury, ill. by Raymond Briggs (Hamish Hamilton, 1966) – Ages: infant +

There are many, many collections out there to choose from. This one is particularly comprehensive (and a Greenaway Medal Winner). A nice big book of nursery rhymes is also a perfect baby shower gift!  (Available at amazon.com)

2. The Rooster Crows: A Book of American Rhymes and Jingles, Maude and Miska Petersham (Simon & Schuster, 1945) – Ages: infant +

Another collection of old folk rhymes, including such classics as “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a Bear”. The kind of rhymes you don’t remember anyone teaching you… you just feel like you’ve always known them. (Available at amazon.com)

3. All Join In, Quentin Blake (Jonathon Cape, 1990) – Ages: 2 +

Rollicking rhymes that invite everyone to “all join in!” Poetry at its most accessible: loud, raucous and fun!

4. The Owl and the Pussycat / The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, Edward Lear – Ages: 2 +

Lear’s classics of nonsense and word-invention (runcible spoon?) successfully stand the test of time. The Owl and the Pussycat is especially lovely and romantic. (NB. Lear’s limericks are rather more problemmatic, fairly violent and dark, but these two poems are blissfully serene.)  (Owl on amazon; Quangle on amazon.)

5. A Visit from St. Nicholas, aka ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Clement Clarke Moore (1823) – Ages: 2+

Don’t forget this seasonal classic, available in many, many editions. (Here’s one on amazon.com)

Check out my follow-up list – Top 5: Poetry for Preschoolers (3-6).

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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