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Poets: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about poets?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to poets. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about poets.

Our list includes picture books and chapter books. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about poets, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Emily and Carlo to popular sellers like One Crazy Summer to some of our favorite hidden gems like 16 Words: William Carlos Williams and “The Red Wheelbarrow”.

We hope this list of kids books about poets can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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16 Words: William Carlos Williams and "The Red Wheelbarrow"
Written by Lisa Rogers & illustrated by Chuck Groenink
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This simple nonfiction picture book about the beloved American poet William Carlos Williams is also about how being mindful can result in the creation of a great poem like “The Red Wheelbarrow”–which is only sixteen words long.

“Look out the window. What do you see? If you are Dr. William Carlos Williams, you see a wheelbarrow. A drizzle of rain. Chickens scratching in the damp earth.” The wheelbarrow belongs to Thaddeus Marshall, a street vendor, who every day goes to work selling vegetables on the streets of Rutherford, New Jersey. That simple action inspires poet and doctor Williams to pick up some of his own tools–a pen and paper–and write his most famous poem.

In this lovely picture book, young listeners will see how paying attention to the simplest everyday things can inspire the greatest art, as they learn about a great American poet.

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Emily Writes
Written by Jane Yolen & illustrated by Christine Davenier
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

An imagined and evocative picture book account of Emily Dickinson’s childhood poetic beginnings. As a young girl, Emily Dickinson loved to scribble curlicues and circles, imagine new rhymes, and connect with the natural world around her. The sounds, sights, and smells of home swirled through her mind, and Emily began to explore writing and rhyming her thoughts and impressions. She things about the real and the unreal. Perhaps poems are the in-between. This thoughtful spotlight on Emily’s early experimentations with poetry offers a unique window into one of the world’s most famous and influential poets. Christy Ottaviano Books

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Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks
Written by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

A picture-book biography of celebrated poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) is known for her poems about “real life.” She wrote about love, loneliness, family, and poverty—showing readers how just about anything could become a beautiful poem. Exquisite follows Gwendolyn from early girlhood into her adult life, showcasing her desire to write poetry from a very young age. This picture-book biography explores the intersections of race, gender, and the ubiquitous poverty of the Great Depression—all with a lyrical touch worthy of the subject. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize, receiving the award for poetry in 1950. And in 1958, she was named the poet laureate of Illinois. A bold artist who from a very young age dared to dream, Brooks will inspire young readers to create poetry from their own lives.

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Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
Written by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth & illustrated by Ekua Holmes
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree’s New York Times best-selling ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award–winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.

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Enormous Smallness: A Story of e. e. cummings
Written by Matthew Burgess & illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Enormous Smallness is a nonfiction picture book about the poet E.E. cummings. Here E.E.'s life is presented in a way that will make children curious about him and will lead them to play with words and ask plenty of questions as well. Lively and informative, the book also presents some of Cummings's most wonderful poems, integrating them seamlessly into the story to give the reader the music of his voice and a spirited, sensitive introduction to his poetry.

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  • Emily and Carlo - When Emily Dickinson was given a puppy by her father, the two were instant best friends. She named him Carlo, after a dog in one of her favorite books, and she delighted in the growing dog’s antics. Carlo, a Newfoundland (and possibly part Saint Bernard), grew to a rather large size and was full of energy. He loved his adventures with Emily. They were an odd pair–a tiny woman and a large, galumphing dog. But they were devoted to one another. Carlo gave Emily confidence to wander and explore the woods and hills near her home, and he listened to her stories and poems. This touching story–delightfully illustrated by Catherine Stock–gives a new insight into the life of the famed reclusive poet of Amherst, Massachusetts. Learning of her close friendship and love for Carlo sheds a new light on the thoughts and feelings of a woman believed to be lonely. Carlo is present in much of her poetry, and readers learn of a woman of charm and wit who loved her constant companion.

  • On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson - An inspiring and kid-accessible biography of one of the world's most famous poets.

  • Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty - A celebration of our nation's melting pot, this beautifully illustrated origin story of the Statue of Liberty honors a poet who has advocated for the voiceless.

  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave - A Caldecott Honor

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Emily
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

What if your neighbor were the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson? And what if one day she sent a letter inviting your mother to pay her a visit? A little girl who lives across the street from the mysterious Emily gets a chance to meet the poet when her mother goes to play the piano for her. There, the girl sneaks a gift up to Emily, who listens from the landing, and in return, Emily gives the girl a precious gift of her own—the gift of poetry.

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A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
Written by Jen Bryant & illustrated by Melissa Sweet
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-18

2009 Caldecott Honor Book An ALA Notable Book A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book A Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book NCTE Notable Children’s Book

When he wrote poems, he felt as free as the Passaic River as it rushed to the falls. Willie’s notebooks filled up, one after another. Willie’s words gave him freedom and peace, but he also knew he needed to earn a living. So he went off to medical school and became a doctor – one of the busiest men in town! Yet he never stopped writing poetry. In this picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, Jen Bryant’s engaging prose and Melissa Sweet’s stunning mixed-media illustrations celebrate the amazing man who found a way to earn a living and to honor his calling to be a poet.

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Walt Whitman: Words for America
Written by Barbara Kerley & illustrated by Brian Selznick
picture book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Did you know that poet Walt Whitman was also a Civil War nurse? Devastated by his country dividing and compelled to service by his brother’s war injury, Walt nursed all soldiers–Union and Confederate, black and white. By getting to know them through many intense and affecting experiences, he began to see a greater life purpose: His writing could give these men a voice, and in turn, achieve his highest aspiration–to capture the true spirit of America. Dramatic, powerful, and deeply moving, this consummate portrait of Whitman will inspire readers to pick up their pens and open their hearts to humanity.

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One Crazy Summer
Written & illustrated by Rita Williams-Garcia
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this Newbery Honor novel, New York Times bestselling author Rita Williams-Garcia tells the story of three sisters who travel to Oakland, California, in 1968 to meet the mother who abandoned them. “This vibrant and moving award-winning novel has heart to spare.” Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She’s had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. But when the sisters arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer. This moving, funny novel won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist. Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern’s story continues in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama. Readers who enjoy Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming will find much to love in One Crazy Summer. This novel was the first featured title for Marley D’s Reading Party, launched after the success of #1000BlackGirlBooks. Maria Russo, in a New York Times list of “great kids’ books with diverse characters,” called it “witty and original.” Brightly, in Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich’s article “Knowing Our History to Build a Brighter Future: Books to Help Kids Understand the Fight for Racial Equality”

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The Extraordinary Suzy Wright
Written & illustrated by Teri Kanefield
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Children are taught much about the men who shaped early America, but history-shaping colonial women remain largely unknown and undiscussed. The Extraordinary Suzy Wright sets about to change that, telling the little-known story of Quaker Susanna (Suzy) Wright (1697-1784), a renowned poet and political activist. Suzy helped settle the Pennsylvania frontier, where she acted as legal counselor to her less literate neighbors, preparing wills, deeds, indentures, and other contracts. Surviving documents and correspondence between Suzy and a host of her contemporaries–including Benjamin Franklin; James Logan, Pennsylvania’s governor and chief justice; and a few signers of the Declaration of Independence–reveal that Suzy, from her home on the frontier, exerted considerable influence in the highest circles of Pennsylvania government. This fascinating and inspiring story includes an author’s note, bibliography, and index.

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