National Poetry Month 2021: 50 Poems for Children


Happy National Poetry Month! According to the Academy of American Poets, this April marks the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month. What better way to celebrate than with 50 well-known children’s poems—25 for elementary-aged children and 25 for middle and high school-aged children?

If you want ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month this spring, these 50 poems are great for sharing with children. Whether you’re looking for a long or short poem, or a funny or inspirational poem, you’re sure to find one here that touches your heart like a good poem should. Here we’ve mostly added short excerpts; click the title to read the whole poem.

25 Poems for Elementary School Children

1. “Ode to My Shoes” by Francisco X. Alarcón

“my shoes
rest all night
under my bed

they stretch
and loosen their laces”

2. “Sarah Cynthia Sylvester Stout” by Shel Silverstein

3. “My Life has Been the Poem I Would Have Writ” by Henry David Thoreau

“My life has been the poem I would have writ,
But I could not both live and utter it.”

4. “Hope is the thing with feathers — 314” by Emily Dickinson

“ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all -”

5. “The Storm” by Mary Oliver

“Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.
Oh, I could not have said it better.”

6. “The Land of Nod” by Robert Louis Stevenson

“From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.”

7. “Dream Variations” by Langston Hughes

“To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening…
A tall, slim tree…
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.”

8. “On a branch…” by Kobayashi Issa

On a branch
floating downriver
a cricket, singing.

9. “Halfway Down” by A.A. Milne

“Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
other stair
quite like
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
i always

10. “The Tyger” by William Blake

“Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

11. “The Pool” by H.D.

“Are you alive?
I touch you.
You quiver like a sea-fish.
I cover you with my net.
What are you—banded one?”

12. “Eletelephony” by Laura Richards

13. “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams

“so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

14. “Since Hanna Moved Away” by Judith Viorst

“The tires on my bike are flat.
The sky is grouchy gray.
At least it sure feels like that
Since Hanna moved away.

Chocolate ice cream tastes like prunes.
December’s come to stay.
They’ve taken back the Mays and Junes
Since Hanna moved away.”

15. “Clouds” by Santhini Govindan

“Whenever I get time to stretch out on the grass,
And look up at the clouds drifting by,
I wonder, what must it be like for them
To live miles above in the great blue sky?”

16. “A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns

“O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.”

17. “Fog” by Carl Sandburg

“The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.”

18. “Color” by Christina Rosetti

“What is pink? A rose is pink
By a fountain’s brink.
What is red? A poppy’s red
In its barley bed.”

19. “You Took the Last Bus Home” by Brian Bilston

“you took the last bus home

i still don’t know
how you got it through the door

you’re always doing amazing stuff
like that time you caught a train”

20. “My Doggy Ate My Essay” by Darren Sardelli

“My doggy ate my essay.
He picked up all my mail.
He cleaned my dirty closet
and dusted with his tail.”

21. “The Eagle” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

“He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.”

22. “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carrol

23. “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”

24. “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘ ’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door— Only this and nothing more.’”

25. “The Walk” by Mary Effie Lee Newsome

“A ladybird went for a walk
Up in a great French horn
And wandered round and round and round
Until her feet were worn.”

25 Poems for Middle and High School Students

26. “The Miracle of Morning” by Amanda Gorman

27. “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”

28. “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee

“There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.”

29. “I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When the Power’s Out” by Andrea Gibson

“This is my heartbeat
Like yours, it is a hatchet.
It can build a house
or tear one down.”

30. “Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare

“Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

31. “To This Day” by Shane Koyczan

32. “Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

33. “Hurry” by Marie Howe

“We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.”

34. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot

“Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.”

35. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

“Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

36. “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” by e.e. cummings

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)”

37. “won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton

“won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.”

38. “Blackberry-Picking” by Seamus Heaney

“We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.”

39. “Remember” by Joy Harjo

“Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.”

40. “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

“He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.”

41. “Happenstance” by Rita Dove

“When you appeared it was as if
magnets cleared the air.
I had never seen that smile before
or your hair, flying silver. Someone
waving goodbye, she was silver, too.
Of course you didn’t see me.
I called softly so you could choose
not to answer—then called again.
You turned in the light, your eyes
seeking your name.”

42. “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden

“Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.”

43. “Music from Childhood” by John Yau

“You grow up hearing two languages. Neither fits your fits
Your mother informs you ‘moon’ means ‘window to another world.’
You begin to hear words mourn the sounds buried inside their mouths
A row of yellow windows and a painting of them
Your mother informs you ‘moon’ means ‘window to another world.’
You decide it is better to step back and sit in the shadows”

44. “The Guest House” by Rumi

“A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.”

45. “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

46. “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry

“When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

47. “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysse Shelley

“I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

48. “How to Triumph Like a Girl” by Ada Limón

“I like the lady horses best,
how they make it all look easy,
like running 40 miles per hour
is as fun as taking a nap, or grass.
I like their lady horse swagger,
after winning. Ears up, girls, ears up!
But mainly, let’s be honest, I like
that they’re ladies. As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.
Don’t you want to believe it?
Don’t you want to lift my shirt and see
the huge beating genius machine
that thinks, no, it knows,
it’s going to come in first.”

49. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“It is an ancient Mariner,
And he stoppeth one of three.
‘By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp’st thou me?

The Bridegroom’s doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May’st hear the merry din.'”

50. “Dear One Absent This Long While” by Lisa Olstein

“It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.

I expect you. I thought one night it was you
at the base of the drive, you at the foot of the stairs,

you in a shiver of light, but each time
leaves in wind revealed themselves,

the retreating shadow of a fox, daybreak.
We expect you, cat and I, bluebirds and I, the stove.”


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