In keeping with Kwame Alexander’s recommendation that poetry can often draw young people into enjoying books, our volunteers have compiled some favorites:
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss. None other than 3-year-old Kwame Alexander recommends this book as repeat-worthy: “Fox Socks Box Knox. Knox in box. Fox in socks.” Fun before babies can even talk and well into beginning reading age.
Red are the Apples by Marc Harshman and Cheryl Ryan. Both West Virginia authors, Harshman is now the West Virginia poet laureate. With rich illustrations by Wade Zahares, these couplets take readers around a farm “in the fall of the year,” often looking up from a child’s point of view. There are colors, foods, animals, whatever you want to explore. — Fayette County Chapter, president Marion Tanner
Creatures of Earth, Sea, and Sky by Georgia Heard. Short poems for new readers feature animals such as bears, eagles, bats and frogs. Beautifully illustrated by naturalist Jennifer Dewey. — Fayette County chapter.
The New Kid on the Block by Jack Prelutsky. I’ve read this book to second, third, and fourth graders. It is one of their favorites and they ask for me to read more of the poems. One year, each child was given the book for their very own. Instead of reading to them, they wanted to read to me, so each child read a poem aloud. I also read from Jack Prelutsky’s other books, Something Big Has Been Here and A Pizza The Size of the Sun. The children love the silliness and the use of words in silly situations. You can’t go wrong with a Jack Prelutsky book. — Aletta Moffett, Marion County chapter president
Poems for Children collected by Kate James. It contains some classics, such as “The Spider and the Fly;” “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star;” and “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.” Fun reading on a rainy morning. — Casey Willson, Berkeley County reader
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Silly, but also deep, Silverstein rhymes, makes kids laugh, and understands what stresses them. Our all-time favorite, along with The Light in the Attic. — Fayette County Chapter.
John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Roads adapted and illustrated by Christopher Canyon. Try and read this picture book aloud, and the audience, of any age, will simply start singing along. The original book came with a CD, a nice addition if you can arrange to play it. Canyon’s meticulously painted scenes look as if they were quilted, and invite the class to linger and spot connections, as with old family photos. — Dawn Miller, Kanawha County reader
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes. This poem, turned into a picture book illustrated by Bryan Collier, is layered with meaning and grows with the listener. — Terri McDougal, director of children’s services at the Kanawha County Public Library.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems also by Langston Hughes. This Harlem Renaissance poet resonates for fifth graders on up. “Hold fast to dreams,” the narrator cautions, and students immediately start thinking about their own dreams, timely as ever. A good edition is illustrated by Brian Pinkney — Dawn Miller, Kanawha County reader
Hill Daughter by Louise McNeill. These poems by a former West Virginia poet laureate may resonate with older listeners, particularly those with rural roots, or any who appreciate the beauty and the stories of their home counties.
Send your short read aloud book recommendations to the Read Aloud West Virginia Newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to tell us about yourself.