Poetry for rugrats


My somewhat precocious 8yo son is in need of some poetry for his reading edification. He’ll be reading The Hobbit soon, but I want to give him a chance to read outside the so-called invisible style many kids books are written in today before I set it in his lap.

Anyone have any recommendations?

Funny poetry would be best. Spooky or weird would be good, too. Also, as a kid, if he doesn’t like the first taste it’ll be hard to get him to try again, so nothing too mature.

Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Poetry for rugrats

  1. Eletelephony, by Laura E. Richards (if memory serves, it’s been… let’s just say it’s been a long time)

    “Once there was an elephant
    who tried to use the telephant
    No no, I mean an elephone
    who tried to use the telephone

    Dear me, I am not certain quite that even now I’ve got it right

    However it was, he got his trunk
    entangled in the telefunk
    The more he tried to get it free
    The louder buzzed the telephee

    I fear I’d better drop the song
    of elephop and telefong.”

    I read it when I was just about your son’s age. Pulling it out of the swiss-cheesed recesses of my brain at 7:00AM on a Saturday comes with no guarantees, implied or stated, that all spellings are correct.

    Jabberwocky is always good, too, though perhaps a tad graphic. I can recite that one for sure.

  2. You may like Jack Prelutsky’s books. It’s silly, rhyming poetry for kids. My brother and I were pretty precocious too, but the list of flavors in “Ebenezer Bleezer’s Ice Cream Store” made us laugh until we cried.

  3. Stephen Plotkin

    I’m not a big fan of Prelutsky or Silverstein, whom people also frequently mention. Here are some things I came up with.

    _Swinger of Birches: Poems of Robert Frost for Young People_

    Sort of old-fashioned stuff, but good:
    _One at a Time: His Collected Poems for the Young_, David McCord

    Two from one of our best light verse poets:
    _Under Water With Ogden Nash_

    _Ogden Nash’s Zoo_

    A good anthology:
    _Talking to the Sun: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems for Young People_, Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell, eds.

    Another good anthology, but probably for older kids:
    _Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle_
    Stephen Dunning (Author), Edward Lueders and Hugh Smith (Illustrators)

    _The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book_, Iona and Peter Opie.
    He may scorn this because they are “nursery” rhymes. If so, it will be a great reference book for you. The book that the Opies did with Sendak, _I Saw Esau_, is also quite splendid.

    Here are two picture books that are wonderful:

    _Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening_ by Robert Frost and Susan Jeffers. Jeffers’ Illustrations are perfect aids for opening up this dark-edged poem to children without compromising its bite.

    _Ox-Cart Man_, by Donald Hall (Author), Barbara Cooney (Illustrator)

    He may turn his nose up at them because they are picture books, but trust me, you at least will thank me.

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