Our Favorite Poetry Books

I had a guest post today over at I Can Teach My Child about memorizing poetry with young children, and Lori asked a great question:

Besides the poems you listed above, do you recommend a certain book of poems or resource to find good ones for kids to read?

Lori, my first recommendation would be to go to that shelf of children’s poetry at your library (ask the librarian where it is, or look up Shel Silverstein, that should be the right section). Just browse around and check out the ones that look best to you. After trying 5-10 books, you and your children might have a favorite you want to buy.

Here are the favorites at our house:

1. Treasury of Poetry and Rhymes, Paragon Publishing. I love this one because it works from babies up to, I don’t know, age ten? A long time. It has everything from “Hey Diddle, Diddle” and “Pop Goes the Weasel”  to “The Owl and The Pussycat” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” It’s also cheap.  ($3 at Amazon, probably under $5 at a local bookstore if they have it.)

2. A Child’s First Book of Poems, pictures by Cyndy Szekeres.  This has beautiful illustrations and classic children’s poems like “The Puffin” and “Who Has Seen the Wind?” Amazon has inexpensive used copies, but it’s probably not more than $10 at a bookstore.

3. A Child’s Garden of Verses, compiled by Cooper Edens – This edition has gorgeous vintage illustrations that I LOVE. My kids like it okay, but only sit well for a couple of poems at a time. They tend to like the short humorous poems of the above book better. (They are ages 6 and 8. Maybe they’ll like it better as they get older?) I have used a few of his shorter poems for memorizing, like “The Swing,” “Rain,” and “The Cow.” This is a lovely book, but if money is tight, probably not the one to start with. (Hardcover on Amazon was about $15.)

4. One Hundred Best Poems, compiled by Marjorie Barrows. This  has wonderful, fanciful poems, but is an antique book, so it’s expensive. (Right now, there’s one copy on Amazon for $10, which is a steal, but if that one disappears, the next is over $30.)  Or keep your eyes out at used book stores. Our favorites are “A Fairy Went a-Marketing” and “Norse Lullaby.”  It makes you think of how childhood used to be. Lovely.

I like sometimes to read a poem at a meal so we can talk about it, especially a poem that fits the day, like one about Jack Frost on a frosty day, or one about mist on a foggy afternoon. So cozy!

Enjoy exploring these delightful poems with your children!

P.S. There is one other resource I want to mention–Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization by The Institute For Excellence in Writing. (Yes, what a mouthful!) The book is expensive ($65) and I haven’t personally used it, but I LOVE Andrew Pudewa’s talk on this topic. I’m mentioning it because if you have a chance to enter a giveaway for this book, DO IT. Andrew Pudewa often speaks at homeschool conventions, so if you have the chance to hear him speak on this topic or buy a CD of his talk (probably about $6), it will get you excited about why and how to memorize poetry with young children.

Character Books for Young Children

Rod and Staff Little Jewel Books

I absolutely love Rod and Staff Little Jewel Books. They are sweet, teach good character, and are about $3 each. My favorites are Molly Helps Mother (not pictured), Just Four, Helping Mother, and A Boy to Help.




Little Lights Missionary Biographies

I had been looking for something like this for a long time. These are missionary/Christian hero biographies, at a very young level. I love them. I got them from Grace and Truth books.



I saw these on a “19 Kids and Counting” episode and spent hours online trying to find them! They do a good job with character. No Bible verses are included, so I want to write one for each book on the first page just to remember to tell my
kids.  I find the writing a bit
long-winded, so I tend to edit a bit. My two-year old LOVES these for some reason! (When he saw me working on this he started shouting, “King of the POND!!!” And then clambered up on my lap so he could see. He loves his King of the Pond.) I ordered online: http://www.advancepublishing.com/ASTS_Series.html .


I got these at a used book sale. Sadly, they’re no longer in print, but you can be on the lookout for similar ones at used book sales or the library. Church libraries might have something like this as well.



You certainly don’t need to buy these, but as you evaluate books think: What character lesson is this teaching? What example are the children giving? Are they complaining and whining, or cheerfully obeying?

I was so happy to find Grace and Truth’s booth that I loaded up on LOTS of books for our shelf at home and for gifts. That’s how I met Dennis and Naomi, got to talking with them, and asked them to consider being a vendor for my book at the OCHEC conventions. They said “YES!” Hooray! Come visit us at OCHEC.

I’ll also be at the Books Bloom booth at the convention, and I’m sure they’ll have awesome books too. I’ll probably end up buying some if I’m there very long, so I’ll have to do a post about what other treasures I find after the convention!

If you are not a homeschooler, you might check into a convention anyway. I know the OCHEC convention is offering FREE entry to anyone who’s never attended before. (For the rest of us it’s $30 or so.)  You can go, check out the books, listen to some speakers, and learn more about homeschooling or how you can incorporate some ideas, even if you aren’t homeschooling.

What about you? What are your favorite character books for young kids?

Chapter Book Reviews: Little Town on the Prairie & Surprise Island

Here’s the order of the Little House on the Prairie Series, and my rating (and some of that is influenced by what my children thought of them). I listen to the CDs with my two older children, ages 8 (boy) and 6 (girl).  They also listen to a CD most
nights in bed as they fall asleep.


  1. Little House in the Big Woods (5 stars)
  2. Little House on the Prairie (5 stars)
  3. Farmer Boy (about Almanzo’s childhood in New York) (5 stars)
  4. On the Banks of Plum Creek (5 stars)
  5. By the Shores of Silver Lake (4.5 stars)
  6. The Long Winter (5 stars)
  7. Little Town on the Prairie (listening to now)
  8. These Happy Golden Years
    (The First Four Years would come next but was published after her death; it’s not technically part of the series.)

We are starting Little Town on the Prairie. I had forgotten about it and thought we were on the last one already, and I just wasn’t ready for Laura to be all grown up! So, I’m very glad to have this one come next.  So far, my kids have really enjoyed it, especially the story about the mouse eating some of Pa’s hair, and the fight between the little kitten and the big mouse.  I think Laura Ingalls Wilder does such an excellent job of weaving the history and mood of the time together in a more mature narrative now that Laura is older, but still keeping these stories that delight young listeners.

My final review of By the Shores of Silver Creek is four-and-a-half out of five stars, not because it’s not as well- written, but I just had an unsettled feeling for most of the book. That’s exactly what the time was with the work on the railroad, wondering if they’d get their claim, moving, moving again, so I’m sure this was intentional. I mean, I liked it, and my kids did  too, I just didn’t love it quite as much as the others. They still enjoyed the stories of Laura traveling west and having candy in a railway car, sleeping in a tent with cousin Lena, winter in the surveyor’s house by the creek, and Laura and Carrie meeting up with a huge wolf one moonlit night.

Boxcar Children: Surprise Island
during Tea Time reading (afternoon, for 15-30 minutes, during my toddler’s nap time)

We just started this one.  It is the second in the series. My review of the first one, The Boxcar Children, is probably four-and-a-half stars.  I think
it’s a great one for my son to read himself.  I read most of it to get him into it, but he’s capable of sitting down and reading a chapter, or the whole thing if he wanted.





What I liked:

  • Simple vocabulary, so my son can read it on his own.
  • The children are nice to each other and look out for each other. Good examples.
  • Children are resourceful, thinking of ways to do things.
  • Simpler, more creative world – I like that these were written in the forties, because it shows how fun and exciting and adventurous the world can be even with no computers in sight. In a world where every show they watch, like WildKratts or Superwhy! even, seems to have kids using a handheld computer to get things done, it’s so nice to see that kids can do all kinds of things just by using their own brains and what’s around them.

What isn’t my favorite:

  • Simple vocabulary, so I want to make sure they are listening to literature above their reading level as well, like the Little House on the Prairie series. They
    learn new words all the time from that.
  • Sometimes bizarre that no adults are around.

Anyway, both my kids like the Boxcar Children series so far, and Tea Time is going well, even though we have only done it a few times!  It’s a good snuggle time with my older two while my toddler is napping.  I really want to keep doing it.