Poetry Books to Boost Literacy

Poetry is literacy’s superfood. Just as certain fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants, poetry is loaded with rich content, brain-stimulating vocabulary, and nourishing literary devices. Poetry invites close reading and careful analysis in a concise format. It’s a great choice to boost students’ literacy. Poetry picture books are particularly powerful because they provide an added layer of visual support. There are many wonderful poetry picture books available. When choosing ones to boost your students’ literacy, use the following criteria:

1.) ENGAGING ILLUSTRATIONS

  • Are the pictures inviting? Do they support the poems? Will they help readers make predictions about the poems before reading and support comprehension/discussion after reading?

2.) RICH VOCABULARY

  • Do the poems contain some words that will be unfamiliar to readers? Or familiar words that are used in new ways? Will readers be able to use context clues/illustrations to guess at the words’ meanings?

3.) COMMON LITERARY ELEMENTS

  • Do the poems model a variety of common literary elements such as imagery, metaphor, simile, personification, onomatopoeia, and hyperbole?

4.) PURPOSEFUL LINE BREAKS

  • Do the line breaks allow readers to read information in “digestible chunks” that support fluency and aid comprehension? Do the line breaks provide an opportunity for teachers to show how ideas can be strung together into meaningful phrases and clauses?

Here are some poetry picture books that meet these criteria. Click on each image for a Goodreads review of the book.