child holding wooden animal toys enjoying poetry for young children.
Books,  Motherhood

Poems to Read to Kids That Young Children Will Love

“Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”

Rita Dove

Most parents have heard that reading poetry to young children is important but many parents struggle with incorporating poetry into daily life. Choosing which poems to read is another challenge.

What Is Black?

Black is the night
When there isn’t a star
And you can’t tell by looking
Where you are. Black is a pail of paving tar. 
Black is jet
And things you’d like to forget. 
Black is a smokestack 
Black is a cat, 
A leopard, a raven, 
A high silk hat. 
The sound of black is
“Boom! Boom! Boom!” 
Echoing in an empty room. 

Black is kind–
It covers up
The run-down street,
The broken cup.
Black is charcoal
And patio grill, 
The soot spots on
The window sill. 
Black is a feeling 
Hard to explain
Like suffering but 
Without the pain. 
Black is licorice 
And patent leather shoes 
Black is the print 
In the news. 
Black is beauty 
In its deepest form, 
The darkest cloud 
In a thunderstorm. 
Think of what starlight 
And lamplight would lack 
Diamonds and fireflies 
If they couldn’t lean against 

-Mary O’Neill – 

The Noise of Nothing

The noise of nothing 
is less than a pin 
petering down
a deep apple bin,
less than a bubble, 
blown round and ripe, 
sliding up 
off the brim of a pipe, 

less than the ring 
of a rain-drop gone 
from the pool it tingled 
and circled on, 

less than a penny 
put down in plush, 
less than a web 
where moth-wings hush, 

less than a dew 
the size of a drop, 
Drying by noon 
On a petal’s lip, 

Less than the hiss 
If starlight fell 
Down the abyss 
Of a bottomless well,
Less than something, 
Least of the small: 
The noise of nothing’s 
No sound at all. 

Has anyone heard it
Breathe or blow? 
Ripple or stir? 
No one I know.

-Norma Farber-

Animal Crackers

Animal crackers and cocoa to drink,
That is the finest of suppers I think;
When I’m grown up and can have what I please
I think I shall always insist upon these.
What do YOU choose when you’re offered a treat?
When Mother says, “What would you like best to eat?”
Is it waffles and syrup, or cinnamon toast?
It’s cocoa and animals that I love most!
The kitchen’s the cosiest place that I know;
The kettle is singing, the stove is aglow,
And there in the twilight, how jolly to see
The cocoa and animals waiting for me.

-Christopher Morley-

You Never Hear the Garden Grow

Row on row,
you never hear the garden

Seeds split.
Roots shove and reach.
Earth heaves.

Leaves unfurl.
Stems pierce the

Pea pods fatten.
stretch and curl.

Such growing
going on
without a sound!

Lillian Moore-

The Black Pebble

There went three children down to the shore
Down to the shore and back;
There was skipping Susan and bright-eyed Sam
And little scowling Jack.

Susan found a white cockle-shell,
The prettiest ever seen,
And Sam picked up a piece of glass
Rounded and smooth and green.

But Jack found only a plain black pebble
That lay by the rolling sea,
And that was all that ever he found;
So back they went all three.

The cockle-shell they put on the table,
The green glass on the shelf,
But the little black pebble that Jack had found
He kept it for himself.

-James Reeves-

A Good Play

We built a ship upon the stairs
All made of the back-bedroom chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.

We took a saw and and several nails,
And water in the nursery pails;
And Tom said, ‘Let us also take
An apple and a slice of cake’;
Which was enough for Tom and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.

We sailed along for days and days,
And had the very best of plays;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Block City

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.
Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.
Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.
This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors on board!
And see on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things!

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Rain Sizes

Rain comes in various sizes.
Some rain is as small as a mist.
It tickles your face with surprises,
And tingles as if you’d been kissed.

Some rain is the size of a sprinkle
And doesn’t put out all the sun.
You can see the drops sparkle and twinkle,
And a rainbow comes out when it’s done.

Some rain is as big as a nickel
And comes with a crush and a hiss.
It come down too heavy to tickle.
It’s more like a splash than a kiss.

When it rains that right size and you’re wrapped in
Your rainclothes, it’s fun out of doors.
But run home before you get trapped in
The big rain that rattles and roars.

-John Ciardi-

My oldest son loves this poem so much he giggles the whole time! It’s definitely one of the funniest poems we’ve added to our collection.

My Tooth Ith Loothe

My tooth ith loothe! My tooth ith loothe!
I can’t go to thcool, that’th my excuthe.
I wath fine tatht night when I went to bed, |
But today it’th hanging by a thread!

My tooth ith looth! My tooth ith loothe!
I’m telling you the honetht truth.
It maketh me want to jump and thout!
My tooth ith loothe…..Oopth! Now it’th out!

-George Ulrich-

Please share in the comments what your favourite poem is to read with your children or which poem from the list is your favourite.

Poems to Read to Young Children they'll Love and You will Enjoy Reading!
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Poems to Read to Young Children they'll Love and You will Enjoy Reading!
Most parents have heard that reading poetry to children is important but many parents struggle with incorporating poetry into daily life. To make your life a bit easier, I have curated a few of our favourite poems that I read regularly to my young children!
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Life Around The Table
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Hi! I’m Christy, a happy wife and mother to three boys, a nutritionist, a food lover and a Canadian. Creating and experimenting in the kitchen is my idea of an afternoon well spent. To me, a clean kitchen is an empty canvas of possibility and that means my kitchen never stays clean for long. My dream is that one or more of the recipes I share here will inspire you, perhaps even becoming a cherished family favourite.

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