The best poems for kids
Poetry for children can make kids laugh, think about the world around them and inspire their own creativity. Here’s our selection of some of the best poems for children.
Poetry is a wonderful gift to share with the children in your life. The best poems for kids can make them laugh, cry, consider the world in a different way and even inspire them to try penning a few lines of their own. Here, Gaby Morgan, Publisher of the Macmillan Children’s Poetry list, explains why she believes poetry for children is so important, and we share our edit of the best poems for kids.
Poetry is powerful stuff - from nursery rhymes, to song lyrics, to poetry shared on social media to verse novels. We turn to poems to soothe or rally, to praise, to celebrate, to comprehend, to grieve, to shout “I love you” or to pick ourselves up when it seems impossible.
Poems can take us on a journey through history and the seasons, festivals and traditions from many different countries, cultures and religions. They teach us about empathy and tolerance: they are words for life.
'We Believe in Football' by Paul Cookson
From Football 4 Every 1
'Turvy-Topsy' by Paul Stewart
‘Gentlemen and Ladies, all and one,
Let’s have a little games and fun.
I’ve noticed that the things we say,
Sound wrong if said a different way.
I’ve never wandered forth and back,
Never been beaten blue and black.
And through my life, large and by,
I’ve yet to be left dry and high.
Error and trial, punishment and crime,
It’s go and touch, again and time.
My fortunes are not down and up.
I never drink from a saucer and cup.
No pepper and salt upon my dish
Of bacon and liver or chips and fish . . .
Under key and lock . . . Order and law . . .
All bothered and hot . . . Peace and war . . .
Simple and pure, though it may sound dull,
It’s how it sounds makes it void and null
You shouldn’t mix pleasure with business:
The bees and the birds with the m & s.
Mind your qs and ps come shine or rain,
And try not to get it wrong again.
Cos, wrong or right, to return to food;
‘Where’s the fork ’n knife?’ just sounds kind of rude.’
‘A small dragon’ by Brian Patten
This speaks to me of belief and trust and wonder.
A small dragon
I’ve found a small dragon in the woodshed.
Think it must have come from deep inside a forest
because it’s damp and green and leaves
are still reflecting in its eyes.
‘Puzzle’ by Matt Goodfellow
A small but important poem.
From The Same Inside: Poems about empathy and friendship by Liz Brownlee, Roger Stevens and Matt Goodfellow.
‘The Laughter Forecast’ by Sue Cowling
Sue Cowling’s poem looks at all the ways of expressing happiness in this alternative weather forecast.
The Laughter Forecast
Today will be humorous
With some giggly patches,
Scattered outbreaks of chuckling in the south
And smiles spreading from the east later,
Increasing to gale-force guffaws towards evening.
The outlook for tomorrow
From Happy Poems chosen by Roger McGough.
‘Give Yourself A Hug’ by Grace Nichols
A gorgeous hug of a poem which implores you to believe in yourself.
An extract from ‘Give Yourself A Hug’
Give yourself a hug
when you feel unloved
Give yourself a hug
when people put on airs
to make you feel a bug
From The Works: Every Poem You Will Ever Need at School chosen by Paul Cookson.
‘Uses’ by Rachel Rooney
This is a wonderful collection of poems inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Rachel’s beautiful poem answers this question – ‘What is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversation?’
An extract from ‘Uses’
They prop open windows; let butterflies in
and stop doors from slamming in sudden, cold wind.
They help with your balance and make you walk tall,
they’ll increase your height on a chair, if you’re small.
From Wonderland - Alice in Poetry edited by Michaela Morgan.
‘My Mum’ by Evie Weston
This is a lovely example of a kenning in this book of poems chosen specially for Key Stage 1. Evie is my daughter and this one is about me!
Wants it neater,
But so sweet-er,
From A First Poetry Book.
‘I Opened A Book’ by Julia Donaldson
The joy of reading, perfectly contained in a poem.
I Opened A Book
I opened a book and in I strode.
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
From her collection Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum.
‘Aliens Stole My Underpants’ by Brian Moses
I love this poem. It is very funny and is a good example of where your imagination can take you.
An extract from ‘Aliens Stole My Underpants’
To understand the ways
of alien beings is hard,
and I’ve never worked it out
why they landed in my backyard.
And I’ve always wondered why
on their journey from the stars,
these aliens stole my underpants
and took them back to Mars.
‘Photograph’ by Roger Stevens
This poignant poem describes a child’s experience of World War II.
An extract from ‘Photograph’
Now Dad’s in France
And our beach is covered in concrete
And tangled barbed wire
In case the Germans invade
But on that day
We’d just made
The world’s grandest sandcastle
And watched the tide
Filling the moat
It all away
‘Let No One Steal Your Dreams’ by Paul Cookson
This is an inspiring poem about believing in yourself.
An extract from ‘Let No One Steal Your Dreams’
Let no one steal your dreams
Follow your heart
Follow your soul
For only when you follow them
Will you feel truly whole
Set your sights and keep them fixed
Set your sights on high
Let no one steal your dreams
Your only limit is the sky