Book recommendations

Poetry picks

Teacher and Curriculum Lead Matthew Courtney shares his poetry recommendations to delight younger children.   

When children listen to poetry, they are exposed to rich language, rhythm, rhyme and fun! Reading aloud poetry to children can support them to develop the essential skills they need to become effective readers, while also highlighting the joy that this genre of text can bring. Here are seven poetry collections that are perfect for sharing with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage: 

  • If you’re looking for fun, rhyming poems that children won’t be able to resist adding actions to, look no further than Big Green Crocodile by Jane Newberry (Otter-Barry Books, 2021). If the tag line ‘Rhymes to Say and Play’ entices you, you won’t be left disappointed! 

  • Caterpillar Cake by Matt Goodfellow (Otter-Barry Books, 2021) is a cheerful, engaging collection. The poems are short, designed to be read aloud and packed with lots of different settings and themes that young children will be able to relate to. 

  • Shirley Hughes’ timeless first book of poems Out and About (Walker Books, 2016) has been enjoyed in many Early Years classrooms since it was first published in 1988. The poems are divided into sections based on the seasons and are paired with Hughes’ rich and endearing illustrations.  

  • Wriggle and Roar! (Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015) is a collaboration between author of The Gruffalo Julia Donaldson and prolific children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt. Each page is filled with colourful and bold illustrations, guaranteed to engage young poetry fans. 

  • Zim Zam Zoom! (Otter-Barry Books, 2016) contains poems that burst off the page! Featuring poems with rockets, farms, dragons, animals and monsters, there is something for everyone in this read-aloud collection from James Carter. 

  • Poems Out Loud! (Ladybird, 2019), illustrated by Laurie Stansfield, brings together 29 brilliant children’s poets. It includes work from Joseph Coelho, Karl Nova and Sue Hardy-Dawson. 

  • Previous Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and illustrator Chris Riddell have teamed up to create A Great Big Cuddle (Walker Books, 2017). Specifically aimed at ‘the very young’, this collection contains short but exciting poems that children will enjoy listening to again and again. 

Author bio: Matthew Courtney is a Teacher and Curriculum Lead. You can find Matthew on Twitter here @mattheweduk