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The focus of this subject guide is children’s poetry for teachers. Particularly, how do you teach children to first enjoy, and then write, poems? The focus audience is the elementary, middle or high school teacher who is new to the profession, new to the content area of poetry, or simply wanting additional resources.

Most American school libraries are organized using the Dewey Decimal System. You’ll find poetry in section 811, American poetry in English. Teachers need to feel comfortable reading and writing poetry themselves, so they can then read and write poetry with students. This subject guide will first help you understand the poetic treasures which await your discovery in section 811, and then help you teach kids to understand and write some treasures of their own.

It’s organized into three levels. First Stepper is designed as the starting point and will help launch your classroom poetry instruction. Passionate Poet is for continued study. This is for the teacher who wants to devote additional time to the genre of poetry in their classroom. Poet Royale is for the true connoisseur, i.e the teacher who will strive to not only teach, but write and pursue poetry as an adult writer and lover of poems. I’ll get us started with a poem of my own, dedicated to my teaching colleagues everywhere!

By Irene Kistler

My teacher learned a lot from me
Like how to make pens leak
Grab the tool in both your hands
Then snap to smear a streak!

I taught her how to travel halls
To run and jump and skid
Out, around and through the school
She chased me, yes she did!

I also taught her how to burp
And how to fake a sneeze
Pretend you feel one coming on
Then scream, “I want some cheese!”

With all this stuff I’ve taught to her
I thinks she’s got some nerve
Telling me right after school
“Detention, you will serve!”


Are you ready to launch poetry in your classroom?
A bit nervous?
Not sure where to turn or how to start?
You’ve come to the right place. Start here!


Fitch, Sheree, and Larry Swartz. The Poetry Experience: Choosing and Using Poetry in the Classroom. Markham, Ont.: Pembroke, 2008. Print.

This print handbook is a great point for beginners to understand children’s poetry. Written for use in the classroom, it’s valuable for the novice poet. To find specific ideas, there is a clear table of contents. The table of contents begins on page three. There are seven chapters, plus reproducibles at the end of the book. The chapters scaffold from Why Poetry? to Writing Poetry and Responding to Poetry as the final chapters. Included in this handbook are guided activities for teachers to implement with students, like Poem of the Day and Choral Dramatizations. There is even a section which steps the teacher through the creation and compilation of a poetry anthology written by and for students. At only 32-pages, it’s a perfect beginners handbook. There is even an idex on page 29 and a bibliography for professional reading on page 30. It’s a great launching point for a classroom teacher!

Fletcher, Ralph J. Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the inside out. New York: HarperTrophy, 2002. Print.

POETRY MATTERS is a print resource written for both students and teachers. It provides concrete opportunities for a student to practice writing poetry, or a teacher to incorporate poetry lessons into their writer’s workshop. The book has two parts. Part One is titled Lighting the Spark. There are five chapters within this section. Part Two is titled Nurturing the Flame and contains seven chapters. Each chapter is designed to include a narrative story from Ralph Fletcher’s own poetry writing life. This narrative launches into a practical exercise for the poet, which forms a “write alongside the author” experience for the student. The poem Ralph Fletcher constructed from the experience can be read before or after the student-created poems. It’s an excellent guide for any First Stepper and a magnificent way to begin planning poetry lessons for students. The book wraps up with a five-page annotated bibliography of further poetry resources.

Sloan, Glenna Davis. Give Them Poetry!: A Guide for Sharing Poetry with Children K-8. New York: Teachers College, 2003. Print.

This is a five-chapter print guide to assist teachers with poetry lesson planning. The first two chapters delve into teaching students to read and understand poetry as a genre. It covers topics such as the sound of poetry and how to conduct an author study within the genre. Chapters Three and Four support the writing of poetry. Chapter Three offers lessons on the various forms, like riddles, for students to attempt, while Chapter Four is a practical glimpse into classrooms studying poetry. It includes first-person perspectives of teachers from every grade, kinder through eighth. The final chapter is one of reflection and includes conceptual understandings shared by both teachers and students. In addition to searching the table of contents, a reference section and index are available and both are arranged alphabetically. In the index, you can search for titles of poems, as well as authors and key terms. This is a great resource for a First Stepper.


Vardell, Sylvia M. Poetry Aloud Here!: Sharing Poetry With Children in the Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006. Print.

This is a must-have reference for every teacher and librarian who wants to instruct children in the art of poetry. It is a print resource. The chapters are titled as questions. The questions themselves are scaffolded, which eases a novice poet instructor into the field of poetry. The first chapter, Why Make Poetry a Priority? is perfect for any first stepper. You can easily navigate to the topic of your choice by following the table of contents. There is also an index, arranged alphabetically, to enhance your search for a specific poetic device or idea. Vardell also includes an appendix and bibliography.
The bibliography is perhaps the most exhaustive list of poetry resources available today. Consuming pages 181 to 206, you simply find the last name of the author and are then presented with the bibliographic annotation for finding the resource. There is also a professional reference section for the instructional practitioner. If you browse no other book, browse this one - it holds the keys to the children’s poetry kingdom!


Young, Sue. The Scholastic Rhyming Dictionary. New York: Scholastic Reference, 1994. Print.

This rhyming dictionary is a print resource and valuable to any age student. It is organized by rhyming sound, as opposed to the alphabetical listing of key words. There are illustrations to support concepts and a clear phonetic guide to help with the pronunciation. Students can search two different ways. First, they can search the sounds using the guide words at the top of the page, similar to a standard dictionary, except instead of complete words, the guide words are rhyming sounds, like -ake and -ight. The sounds are sorted alphabetically using the guide words. There is also an index of the rhyming words and the sound they are filed under, so students can cross-reference a specific word to its sound, then find the sound and more rhyming words. This rhyming dictionary also includes an explanations of rhyming, including the stressors and variant spellings. Rhyming words are up-to-date and even include modern colloquialisms. Written for children, but beneficial to all ages!


Lansky, Bruce. "Funny Poetry for Children." Funny Poetry for Children. Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

This web site brings joy to any classroom. It advertises itself as the #1 Fun Poetry Site for Kids on the Web, and it just might be right! Giggle Poetry is run by well-known children’s poet, Bruce Lansky. He has written over twenty poetry books for children, including A BAD CASE OF THE GIGGLES and WHEN THE TEACHER ISN’T LOOKING.
This website invites poetry and poets right into the classroom. On the left sidebar, there is a Read and Rate button. Navigate to this button and you are met with sixteen categories. Choose a category, read the poem, and then vote on the Giggle Meter. The Giggle Meter is a five-level, kid-friendly voting system, so kids will not only read the poetry, but evaluate it, too.
The left sidebar also has a Poetry Class page. It’s filled with tips for engaging and instructing kids in the genre of poetry. It’s subdivided into three sections: How to Teach Poetry, Poetry Theater and Poetry Activities. As a classroom teacher, you can find detailed lessons, such as Newfangled Tongue Twister and Exaggeration. Bruce Lansky writes in a narrative form directly to the teacher, so it’s like having him right beside you as you instruct.

"Welcome to Rainy Day Poems." Rainy Day Poems. House of Lore, 2011. Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

Rainy day poems is particularly valuable for the early elementary teachers. The illustrations are eye-catching, especially when viewed upon the large projector screens available in many classes today. This site offers free poems with remarkable illustrations. Teachers could scaffold student understanding, especially for younger kids, by offering the illustrations to enhance the meaning.
To navigate the site, use the tabs at the top of the web page. There are seven tabs. The HOME tab launches a screen with a poem and welcome message. Moving to the right along the tabs, the next link navigates to the free POEMS section of the website. Here, you can find a plethora of free poems devoted to kids. There are nine sections of poems classified by themes, like Mother’s Day, and then more sections below which offer access to some classic poets, like Emily Dickinson. My recommendation for First Steppers is to browse the top nine sections to share with kids, and then move on to the classics. The remainder of the web site can be explored by continuing to follow the tabs at the top, but they are not as essential to the poetry pathfinder as the POEMS section.


Are you hooked?
Ready to take it up a notch?
These treasures will take your instruction to the next level!


"Children's Poetry : The Poetry Foundation." Children's Poetry : The Poetry Foundation. Web. 12 Apr. 2013. <>.

The Poetry Foundation is an organization which is devoted to assuring the genre of poetry thrives in our culture. The association’s web site boasts an impressive depository of resources. It contains a section dedicated to children’s poetry. The navigation menu at the top has four sections: Children’s Poetry, Children’s Poet Laureate, Children’s Video and Articles about Children’s Poetry. There is also a browse feature on the right sidebar. They have a poem a day featured on the sidebar, but you can also scroll to age-related poems. The poems have links to the author and a short biography. Across the top of the page, there are three additional hyperlinks: Children’s Poet Laureate, Children’s Video and Articles about Children’s Poetry. Each page is filled with additional resources. Be sure to scroll all the way down each page. This web site hides some treasure out of view. To simplify your search, scroll to the bottom of any page for the site index. This association exists to celebrate poetry and serves as an incredible instructional resource!


Dewey Decimal Classification. OCLC, Web. <>.

Poetry in the Dewey Decimal System is classified within section 81, American literature in English. From here, readers can explore poetry by navigating to the 811’s, which is American poetry in English. The subclassifications are worthwhile to explore for anyone who’s interested in writing poetry. But to continue a focus on teaching children about poetry, including how to write poetry, the complete subclassification is 811.00809282. Many schools in America continue to use the Dewey system. For educators who want to master the craft of poetry and its instruction, the 811 call number is essential.


Foster, John, Melanie Williamson, Wyk Rupert Van, and John Foster. Barron's Junior Rhyming Dictionary. Hauppauge, NY: Barrons Educational Series, 2006. Print.

This is a rhyming dictionary for young poets. It is a print resource and is best for elementary age, although older students would benefit from the endpapers, which include explanations for how to write various forms of poetry, such as limericks and rapping rhymes.
To search this resource, students have two easy options. First, since the book is arranged alphabetically, students can use their alphabetization skills when browsing the key words on each page. There are only two-four key words per page, highlighted in green, and accompanied by humorous illustrations. The second way to is use the index. The index includes all the words and their rhymes, with corresponding page numbers. This is a friendly resource which draws students in and inspires creativity.


"ipl2 Children and Poetry" The iSchool at Drexel! Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

This is an annotated, online directory compiled by ipl2, which is a consortium of professionals in the field of library science. Included in their Children and Poetry directory are links to authors, organizations and audio archives for children’s poetry. There are even links to additional poetry directories. It is a clean web site, i.e. No left or right sidebars with additional information, which simplifies the search process. There is the main page, which links to the subsequent pages using the Next>> hyperlink at the top and bottom righthand side of the page. The recommended links are ranked relative to the search terms. The first several pages relate well to the topic of writing and instructing poetry, but the further you venture into the directory, the less relevant the pages become. There are 500 links available to view divided into groups of ten. The groupings are labeled above the Next>> hyperlink. This is a great directory for the Passionate Poet because there are many pertinent resources to explore!


Prelutsky, Jack, Karla Kuskin, and Jean Marzollo. "Writing with Writers: Poetry Writing |" Writing with Writers: Poetry Writing | Scholastic, n.d. Web. 02 May 2013. <>.

This online handbook is perfect for the Passionate Poet! When your instructional practice is ready for more, then it’s time for a genre study. Scholastic has published three genre studies with free resources included. When you navigate to the link, there are three poets listed on the right side of the main page: Jack Prelutsky, Karla Kuskin and Jean Marzollo. They are all accomplished and published children’s poets. Their handbooks are written as step-by-step guides to intruct student’s on the topic of poetry with ready-to-go classroom resources. The handbooks are written in first person narrative form with the student as the audience, so they are engaging to share with a class. Students will feel as if the poet is speaking directly to them! At the end of each poetry study is an opportunity for students to publish their original poem online, with their parent’s permission. It’s the perfect complement to the Passionate Poet’s instructional toolbag!


Greetings, fellow **philomuse**!
You have zoomed through First Stepper
And Passionate Poet
And are a true lover of poetry.
In this section are some of my favorite poetry resources.
They have enriched me as both a teacher
And writer of poetry.
I hope they enrich you, as well.


"Poetry at Play." Poetry at Play. Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults, Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

Poetry Advocates for Children & Young Adults (PACYA) was founded by Steven Winthrow in 2011. There is an advisory board in place which includes J. Patrick Lewis, the current U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, and Sylvia Vardell, author of CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A Librarian’s Guide. PACYA engages in efforts to keep the love of poetry alive in children and classrooms, particularly in this era of standardized testing.
The PACYA website is extensive. There are seven navigational options, including books, essays and featured poets. The Books tab includes a section specific to teachers. There are sixteen titles listed alphabetically by author. Each listing includes a link to the author’s book on the Amazon website and the year published. Amazon offers a look inside for many of the titles, so you can evaluate snippets of the resource, including the table of contents.

" - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More." - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

The Academy of American Poets was established in 1934 by Marie Bullock and exists to support American poets across all stages of their career, from novice to expert, as well as to create an appreciation for contemporary poetry in the citizenry of the United States. Marie Bullock founded the academy out of a personal reverance for poetry and her fear that poetry was a neglected and dying form in the United States. Today, the academy continues her mission to promote and support the American poet.
The association’s web site is divided into three columns. The lefthand sidebar has important links for the Poet Royale: National Poetry Calendar, Poetry Lesson Plans, Great Poems to Teach, Poems for Teens and Listen Up. Listen Up is particularly valuable as it contains archived recordings of poems, plus videos of poets explaining their craft. It will be a delight to any Poet Royale!


Anniversary Booklet. New York City: Academy of American Poets, 2009. PDF. <>

This is a biographical PDF provided freely by The Academy of American Poets. It is an online resource, but can be printed by the reader. Contained within are photographs of American poets and a timeline of important events in the history of American poetry. To find the biographies of contemporary poets, navigate to the 11th screen, which is a checkered collage of purple squares and the poet’s photo. Click on their name or photo and your browser will launch to the poet’s biographical page on the academy’s website. Each poet’s biographical page includes photos, a narrative of their life and audio recordings of the poet reading their poems. This is an excellent way to present contemporary poetry to students. Be sure to listen to the poems in their entirety before sharing them with a class, since some of the poems are designed for the older reader and contain mature themes.


Prelutsky, Jack, and Arnold Lobel. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children. New York, NY: Random House, 1983. Print.

This is a 500-poem, print anthology selected by Jack Prelutsky, the Poetry Foundation’s Children’s Poet Laureate from 2006-2008. It is organized into common educational themes, like nature, home and seasons. There are classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, and contemporary authors, like Shel Silverstein. It was illustrated by Caldecott medalist Arnold Lobel. His illustrations serve as a constant to the changing themes and writing voice across the anthology.
Searching is simple, but varied. The poems are indexed by title, author, first line and subject. You can scan the subjects to find a poem, or browse the titles. A reader gets drawn in by one poem, but then encouraged to continue reading the surrounding poems. It’s enticing to both child and adult, although written specifically for ages 5 to 11.


"Best Poems." Best Poems. Web. 01 May 2013. <>.

The Best Poems Encyclopedia is definitely for the Poet Royale. It is an online resource which features both adult and children’s poems and poets. Across the navigation bar at the top of the web site are the subtitled sections, including 100 Best Poems, Free Poetry, Best Love Poems, Poets Directory and Quotes. There is also information about submitting poetry to their site for publication. Their poets directory is organized by country, so you can easily explore the poets of specific cultures. The free poetry is organized in a similar fashion. On the right sidebar, the encyclopedia features Most Popular Poets, Poets by Nationality, Poetry Publishers and a Poems About section, which is a topical index. In Poems About, topics are listed alphabetically, so it is easy to find poems about common topics, like nature or family. The Best Poems Encyclopedia includes the social networking interfaces of Facebook and Twitter. They encourage interaction with their readers and will answer questions from Facebook or Twitter followers. They also publish an online poetry newsletter, which readers can subscribe to from the right sidebar.

Cushman, Stephen, ed. The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2012. Print.

This fourth edition of the Princeton encyclopedia is a detailed accounting of every idea related to poetry. This print encyclopedia is organized alphabetically and contains five types of entries, including terms, genres, movements, nations and sociology. There are guide words listed on the top left and top right of each double-layout page. Poets and specific works do not exist as separate entries, but are included within the context of scholarly entries. To facilitate user searching, it is fully indexed with more than 1500 terms. Of special note is this edition’s explicit attempt to service the whole of the field of poetry. Previous editions were Anglo-American centric. This edition acknowledges the variances of poetry, as influenced by locality and language; as such, it includes entries authored by scholars from languages other than English. This encyclopedia is for the serious student of poetry.


Poets & Writers Magazine. Poet & Writers, Inc., May/June 2013

Poets & Writers Magazine is a print resource. It is an introspective publication which will further the professional journey of any teacher embracing the writer’s life on a personal level. It is for the practitioner who is moving beyond the professional necessity to provide quality instruction. It is published bi-monthly. There are regular features, including two informational articles which relate directly to a writer’s life. There is also a listing of writing contests within each issue. The informational articles, including their summary blurbs are located on the first page of the table of contents. This page also includes updated information about writing contests. The second page of the table of contents breaks down into three sections: News and Trends, The Literary Life and The Practical Writer. Each section is filled with articles and tidbits to nurture a writer’s growth. If you are a Poet Royale, this is a worthwhile publication to own.