Page by Page: Books to read during National Poetry Month

Natasha Thorager
Natasha Thorager


April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate by enjoying these books:

“Crossing” by Phillip Booth: The illustrations done in gouache are amazing. For all the train fanatics out there, this is a must read. Trains can be a nuisance to those who are impatient, but for those who look carefully, there is much to see as the train rolls by. Best for ages 4-10.

“Dogku” by Andrew Clements: The story in this book is told in poems. Each page contains a haiku of a dog trying to find his forever home. Haiku is a form of poetry in which the first line contains five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third and final line has five syllables again. Can your family make your own haiku poems? Best for ages 5-10.

“Touch the poem” by Arnold Adoff: These poems are accompanied with photographs of children. Adding to the charm of this book, some poems require the book to be held sideways to read the poem on the page. Can your child write a poem and then pose for a picture that goes along with the poem? Best for ages 6-12.

“Face Bug” by J. Patrick Lewis: This book contains only books on bugs. Each poem includes a close up of the face of the bug the poem is about. Illustrations fill the pages of the book with a story of talking bugs. Best for ages 7-11.

“Plum” by Tony Mitton: Illustrated by Minnesota’s own Mary Grand Pre, who was also illustrator of the Harry Potter books. Plum contains many different poems. Some poem titles include “The Snake and the Apple,” “Song of the Wizard’s Imp,” “Shore Music” and “Puzzled Pea.” “Elegant Elephant Delicatessen” pages open up to a huge illustration. The illustrations are wonderous. Best for ages 7-12.

“A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down” by Dana Jensen: Some of these poems are read from the top down and others from the bottom up. Can you figure out which way is correct? Written by Minnesota poet/author, Dana Jensen. Best for ages 7-12.

“Big Talk” by Paul Fleischman: Round up the family to read this book. Each poem features words on four different color lines. Follow the words across as different readers read their line. Sometimes it is read in chorus, sometimes as a duet, and still other times just one voice at a time. It’s a great way for readers to track as they’re reading and to practice fluency, as all will need to read at the same tempo. Best for readers ages 8-11.

“Mirror, Mirror” by Marilyn Singer: Marilyn Singer rivets the reader with these reverso poems. Read the poem down the page, and then read it up the page. The words are the same, but the order in which they are read changes the whole meaning and perspective of the story. Try writing some as a family. These all share the topic of fairy tales — what will yours be about? Best for ages 8-12.

“Fold Me a Poem” by Kristine O’Connell George: Illustrated by Minnesotan Lauren Stringer, this book showcases poems with different origami designs to accompany. This would make for a great rainy spring day activity. Best for ages 8-12.

“Diamond Willow” by Helen Frost: This is one of my favorite recommendations for readers searching for a good novel. Each page is written as a poem. On the page, certain words in the poem are highlighted to give another hint about the story. Follow along with the journey of this girl and her sled dog. Best for ages 10-13.

“Home of the Brave” by Katherine Applegate: The author used to live in Minneapolis and uses the state for the setting of this story about a young man named Kek, who has just moved from Africa. As he struggles with his new life in America, he connects with a cow. It’s a great book to see the world through another’s eyes. Best for ages 10-14.

Natasha Thorager is a media specialist and intervention teacher at Rutherford and Oak Park elementary schools in Stillwater. She loves putting the right book in the right reader’s hands. Contact her at [email protected].