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. 

10/09/2020
10 minutes to read

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 

Poem and illustration of Turvy-Topsy from Poems to Save the World With

Poem by Paul Stewart, illustration by Chris Riddell, taken from Chris Riddell's Poems to Save the World With.


Turvy-Topsy

‘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.’


From Poems to Save the World With


‘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.

 

From Read Me: A Poem for Every Day of the Year


‘Puzzle’ by Matt Goodfellow

A small but important poem.

 

Puzzle

we are

 

all

jigsaw pieces

 

before

we

are gone

 

we

must

find

a

 

way

to

fit

together

as

 

one

 

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,

Widespread chortling

Increasing to gale-force guffaws towards evening.

The outlook for tomorrow

Is hysterical.

 

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!

 

 

My Mum

Glasses wearer,

Great carer,

Wants it neater,

But so sweet-er,

Promise keeper,

Car-horn beeper,

Book maker,

Child creator.

 

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.

 

 From Lost Magic: The Very Best of Brian Moses.

 

‘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

And landmines

In case the Germans invade

 

But on that day

We’d just made

The world’s grandest sandcastle

And watched the tide

Rush in

Filling the moat

Gradually washing

It all away

 

From What Are We Fighting For? by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens.

 

‘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

 

From The Very Best of  Paul Cookson: Let No One Steal Your Dreams and Other Poems.