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Parents & Teachers

Ted’s Poetry Bibliography for Teachers

Here are a few books that I recommend and use frequently when teaching poetry to kids. I hope you’ll find one or two that are helpful for your teaching style and grade range. Some are older, some are out of print, but if you can get your hands on them, they are still rich and helpful.

Also, please, please don’t hesitate to write me and ask additional questions about using poetry in your classroom. It is fun to see how effective poetry can be in helping young writers find their voices and get excited about writing—some for the very first time.

Mostly these texts are listed in alphabetical order, except for Georgia Heard–she’s tops.

Heard, Georgia. Awakening the Heart.  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998.  Wow, what an amazing resource! Still the best around. It inspires me each time I pick it up. Filled with ideas & tips, but also provides depth for understanding the tools and power of poetry for kids. Mostly elementary in focus.

Heard, Georgia and Lester Laminack. Reading and Writing Across the Year. Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann, 2008. Part of a marvelous three-book package (see below). This one is the central book, with ways to create a poetry-rich classroom, and lots of fine mini-lessons for using poetry year round in little daily or weekly bites. K-2 mostly but can be extended to 3-4.

Heard, Georgia and Lester Laminack. Climb Inside a Poem & Lessons for Climb Inside a Poem (two books).  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann, 2008.  29 original poems in a big book, and the lessons to use with the poems in the other—just 5-10 minutes a day for a week, with each poem.  Marvelous and easy. K-2 mostly but can be extended to 3-4.

Vardell, Sylvia and Janet Wong, The Poetry Friday Anthology. Pomelo Books, NJ, 2012. This is a remarkable collection of poems to share, accompanied by wonderful ways to use them in your class, quickly or not. A must for your shelf. Tied to the Common Core. Grouped by grade. K-5.

Vardell, Sylvia, The Poetry Teacher’s Book of Lists. CreateSpace, 2012. Available through Amazon or Sylvia’s blog (see below). Amazing bibliographic book with lists of poetry books and resources for every occasion and curricular topic. Wow! K-8.

Fletcher, Ralph, Poetry Matters – Writing a Poem From The Inside Out.  New York: Harper Trophy, 2002. This little gem is mostly a guide for young writers, but teachers can learn a lot about the craft of poetry writing too. Includes some fine interviews with poets. Grades 4-8.

Calkins, Lucy, Units of Study for Primary Writing: A Yearlong Curriculum (K-2), and Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5, Portsmouth, NH, Heinemann, 2003/2006. These units of study cover all writing, but the poetry units are quite marvelous, like the rest of it. Easy to implement, and very effective.

Harrison, David L. Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight. New York: Scholastic, 1999.  Like Paul Janeczko’s two great Scholastic texts below, this is a marvelously teacher-friendly resource. 50 reproducible poems and activities with loads of great tips and lessons. Grades 3-6.

Harrison, David L. and Kathy Holderith,  Using the Power of Poetry to Teach Language Arts, Social Studies, Math and More. New York: Scholastic, 2003. When you need tons of great poetry ideas to connect across the curriculum, this workbook has many marvelous lessons and writing activities you can plug right in and use. Grades 2-6.

Hewitt, Geof.  Today You Are My Favorite Poet: Writing poems with teenagers Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998. This is an excellent book for working with teenagers. The tone and the exercises have just the right inspiration and irreverence to get teen emotions rolling into poems. High and middle school.

Holbrook, Sara, Practical Poetry A Non-Standard Approach to Meeting Content Area Standards, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2005. Sara Holbrook’s poetry is always “non-standard” and fun, and this book has lots of great examples and kid-friendly lessons for major content areas. Definitely 5th – 8th grade.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett.  Pass The Poetry, Please!,  New York: HarperCollins, 1998. (3rd Edition)  This scholarly book is filled with some good references for teachers, but is thin on actual examples. Good short bios of the most famous children’s poets of the last century.

Janeczko, Paul B. Favorite Poetry Lessons. New York:  Scholastic, 1998. What a teacher-friendly reference. Clear explanations, lots of great examples, and he lays the lessons out in wonderfully logical progressions. Grades 4-8.

Janeczko, Paul B.  Teaching Ten Fabulous Forms of Poetry. New York: Scholastic, 2000. This teacher-friendly resource has great lessons very carefully planned for instant use with great directions. Grades 4-8.

Lewis, J. Patrick, Poems for Teaching in the Content Areas, New York: Scholastic, 2007. Pat Lewis (my favorite poet for kids) has written 75 very diverse poems to fit with easy-to-use lessons from Laura Robb. Grades 5-6 and above.

The Best Books for Reading Poems Aloud  (Daily if you can)

The first three treasures below are anthologies–spectacular collections of poems on just about every subject, and in just about every style. Most of the poems are rhymed, and delightfully fun to share. Every elementary library (and classroom!) should have these books on the shelf.

1. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, Random House, New York, 1983.  A classic.  Edited by Jack Prelutsky.  “A Treasury of 572 Poems for Today’s Child.”

2.  The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1999. Edited by Jack Prelutsky. 211 poems from 137 great poets.

3.  The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2008.

4.  Worth, Valerie, All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, Farrar, Straus…NY, 1996.   Delightful, small poems, rich with figurative language and imagery. Great for K-6.

The Best Poetry Websites for teachers that I have found:

Poetry Advocates for children and Young Adults (PACYA) – This website is amazing and has some fabulous links/resources for teachers and poetry lovers.

Sylvia Vardell’s marvelous blog “Poetry for Children” is all about “finding and sharing poetry with children.” She is really tuned into writing curricula and common core standards, and has super links, thoughts and books. Find it at

Also see the Great Links page on this website.

Good Luck!

© 2012 Ted Scheu

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