2019 Notable Poetry Books for Children

By Enriquez, Grace; Dawes, Erika Thulin et al. | Language Arts, July 2020 | Go to article overview

2019 Notable Poetry Books for Children


Enriquez, Grace, Dawes, Erika Thulin, Lara, Gilberto P., Kruger, Mollie Welsh, Language Arts


In this column, we feature some of our favorite poetry titles published in 2019 for children in grades K-8.

In this column, we present some of our favorite poetry books for children in grades K-8. As we reviewed the titles available in 2019, we saw that acute attention was being paid to the child as a learner, as someone whose imagination and curiosity knows no bounds, and as someone whose place in our collective history is important to reinforce and whose future holds incredible potential. Well-known childrens poets appear throughout these reviews, as do well-known illustrators, testifying to the mastery they have attained in crafting poetry and art that appeal to children. We also include relatively new poets whose voices have a clear pulse on the cares and concerns of young readers. As such, we hope this selection of poetry will nurture the children in your classrooms and your lives.

I Remember: Poems and Pictures of Heritage Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins Illustrated by various artists Lee and Low, 2019, unpaged, ISBN 978-1-62014-311-7

In this posthumously published anthology of poems selected by the late Lee Bennett Hopkins, who holds the record for most prolific anthologist of poetry for children, the theme of heritage is illustrated through the collection of poems as memories, celebrations, travails, possibilities, and dreams. The anthology pairs well-known children's authors and illustrators-including Young People's Poet Laureates, bestselling authors, Newbery Medalists, and Pura Belpré and Coretta Scott King awardees- who share a similar race or ethnicity. Each poem and illustration set includes a short testimony where the authors explore what poetry means to them, and the artists express what art means to them. The poems' topics are as diverse as their authors and illustrators and range from Insoo Kim's recollection of being expected to speak a foreign language as a forever foreigner to Margarita Engle's recollection of creating costuras with Abuelita to Nick Bruel's exploration of the complexity of biracialism to G. Neri's nostalgic recipe for gumbo, a recipe to find your way back home. In a similar way, the authors and illustrations in countless media lay out a map to where we have been, where we are, and where we dream of being. (GPL)

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems Edited by Paul B. Janeczko Illustrated by Richard Jones Candlewick, 2019, 48 pp., ISBN 978-0-7636-8168-5

Addressing both the inquisitive and imaginative workings of a child's mind, poet and master verse anthologist Paul B. Janeczko compiled the verses in this delightful anthology, released a month before the world lost him to an illness. As strong and entertaining as his previous compendia, The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other HowTo Poems assembles an array of children's poets whose works have charmed children and adults throughout the year. Each poem offers advice, ideas, and instructions for things both common and creative. For example, Douglas Florian succinctly explains the "Rules of Speaking": "Don't bite your nails or suck your thumb. / Refrain from saying, 'Um, um, um'" (p. 17); later, in "Tired Hair," he gives playful advice about what to do when you are tired of your hair: "Comb it with a garden rake; / Mix it in a chocolate cake. / Feed it to a hungry pig; / Then go out and buy a wig" (p. 36). Nikki Grimes teaches readers how to sign "thank you" in "A Lesson from the Deaf": "First, sweep one hand / up to your mouth, / as if to blow a velvet kiss." (p. 38). Elaine Magliaro explains "How to Be a Snowflake": "Fashion yourself: / a bit of lace, / crystalline, / spun in space" (p. 32). Richard Jones's paint and digital illustrations complement each poem with rich colors. With two more posthumous anthologies forthcoming, Janeczko is as present as ever, and this collection is just right for a number of English language arts and literacy purposes. (GE)

Thanku: Poems of Gratitude Edited by Miranda Paul Illustrated by Marlena Myles Millbrook, 2019, unpaged, ISBN 978-1-5415-2363-0

Miranda Paul, a cofounding member of We Need Diverse Books (weneeddiversebooks. …

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