Poetry books!

LOVE using poetry with children and have found that I can really get them to play with language  and take risks with ideas. The secret is to find really good poems to use as a model and then use these to help children scaffold their own ideas. I have lots of poetry books that I regularly dip into and try to use a wide range of poets to inspire children. They range from John Agard to Benjamin Zephania and from the nonsense poems of Spike Milligan to the thought provoking images within Wilfred Owen’s moving war poetry. I believe that children should experience poetry regularly and enjoy the wealth of amazing poetry that is out there! Here are a few of the books on my bookshelf.

I was fortunate to meet MICHAEL ROSEN last year at a conference and have a brief chat with him before hearing him speak passionately about his love of language.  It was dreadful to hear that he was so ill having contracted Covid. How could the Nation’s wordsmith be silent? He’s recovering and I’m sure that soon he will be regaling us with his word wisdom:

Many of his books sit on my bookshelf and will be used over and over again. His rhyming stories are loved by everyone:

I love it when he plays with language:

His writing is also sitting on my bookshelf for me to dip into and learn from:

Another poet that I love to use is the Manchester based writer Carol Ann Duffy

One of my favourite texts is The Christmas Truce. Duffy creates such poignant images through her language and these, encapsulated through the illustrations of David Roberts, capture the brutality of World War I. The glimpse of hope that we witness on that Christmas Day, when fighting stopped and friendship formed for moments, makes this beautifully crafted text a powerful tool for teaching:

This is another Duffy text that is full of wonderful poems that you might share with your upper KS 2 pupils:

If you want a poem that will ask pupils to think about what poetry means to them poem entitled The Words of Poems will do just that:

Or maybe teachers could use this clever personification poem, called Meeting Midnight, to help their pupils create their own poems exploring how other times of the day might come to life:

I think PAUL COOKSON, who is a very good poet and a great performer (if you ever get to see him, you will have an aching face after smiling too much), should be on your poetry bookshelf!

Paul is also brilliant at finding really good poems. He has chosen lots of the poems in THE WORKS poetry books and created brilliant anthologies about everything from space to teachers! I trust his poetic taste and know I’ll love what I read:

BRIAN MOSES should also been prominent on your book shelf. Like Rosen and Cookson he writes brilliantly but is also a dab hand at picking clever poetry for anthologies. Here are just a few of the books that I have of his: 

This is a beautifully written book all about what the creatures of the world would dream of. Very pertinent! 

I love this series of books as the poems are so well selected and can be used for reading or to stimulate writing:

There’s also Poems about Emotions, Poems about animals, Poems about families and Poems about Seasons. I have them all and recently used a poem from Poems about animals along with the song from The Sound of Music to create our own version of Animal Farewell: 

The Sound of music – So Long farewell https://youtu.be/-nRU5RIDWXU

We collected all the different ways to say goodbye and used a page from You Choose by Goodhart & Sharratt to help us create the internal lines:

The children loved thinking about rhyming and then had to try to make their last line a twist:

Poetry to read aloud:

The Literacy Curriculum has a number of references to the teaching of poetry and there is a real emphasis on the performance of learnt poetry. It is vital then, that we find really good poetry to teach our pupils and it would be foolish not to then use these models to scaffold their writing. Our book shelves need to be full of wonderful verses that children will want to learn:





Children need to hear wonderful poets too reading their poems. I believe that all children should hear Michael Rosen reading ‘We are going on a bear hunt‘ http://youtu.be/ytc0U2WAz4s or the delicious and mouth watering  ‘Chocolate Cake’   http://youtu.be/7BxQLITdOOc or Murray Lachlan Young’s peforming a very silly poem called  ‘Don’t’ or tp://youtu.be/6qoMjYmw-Gw or his modern cautionary tale about ‘Annie McClue’  http://youtu.be/uQerZSWZ4hw

If you struggle to find poems to inspire your lessons or can’t think of an innovative way to teach the sessions, have a look at Pie Corbett‘s book Jumpstart Poetry or a very old book that I have been using for over 25 years called ‘To Rhyme or not to rhyme’ by Sandy Brownjohn. Both are great for ideas.



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