Funny, hilarious, wild, upbeat, zany, bizarre, weird, peculiar poems for kids and tweens to read and share aloud, perform, revisit, memorize, move to, and, best of all, ENJOY!
Why is Poetry Essential for Skill Building
Listen up! Kids and tweens listen to poems read aloud and foster their listening skills by becoming alert to words they hear and their meaning.
Words, words, words! When they read and listen to rhyming words, they learn to attend to the sounds of letters by discovering how words rhyme. Poetry supports their understanding of the sounds of words and the pronunciation of words.
Language Works! Poems introduce kids and tweens—and anyone else—to parts of speech and language conventions such as spacing, margins, and punctuation. ELL kids can build awareness of these conventions.
New words, words, words! Poems introduce new words or demonstrate the use of familiar words in new ways—in new contexts. In particular, ELL learners can add to their emerging vocabulary treasury. Synonyms, antonyms, word play, invented words—these, too, can be introduced by exploring the language of poems.
Let’s write! Different poems=different structures, forms, and formats. When young readers explore simple poetry forms, pointing out and discussing the components of these forms, they can begin experimenting with writing their own poems. Helpful books for introducing writer-friendly poetry forms and techniques: Leap Into Poetry: More ABCs of Poetry (); Fly With Poetry: An ABCs of Poetry (), by Avis Harley; A Kick in the Head: AnEveryday Guide to Poetic Forms, edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka (), and Poetry From A to Z: A Guide for Young Writers, by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Cathy Bobak ().
Imagine this! Poets express themselves with unique images that stimulate young readers’ and writers’ imagination. Imagination awakens interest, fascination, attention, passion, and curiosity—mental states that empower young readers to lead rich lives.
Social Emotional Learning! Poetry invites kids and tweens—and all other readers—to experience deep feelings and deeply felt moments. Poets explore both supportive and harmful relationships, empathy for others, and responsible and caring decisions as well as actions that cause personal pain such as bullying. A poem may put feelings and thoughts into words that children may not know how to express otherwise.
Human diversity! Many poets write about issues and concerns related to social justice through their descriptions of people deeply affected by bias, discrimination, and other forms of destructive social habits. They make young readers aware of racism and other forms of bigotry and illustrate solutions that can transform hatred to kindness and acceptance.
Poetry for content learning. Poems can help to foster content learning throughout the curriculum. Math and science concepts, historical topics and themes, national and international settings and cultural habits and values are found in many good poems for young readers and writers.
Refreshing Poetry Books
And now, let’s cheer for amusing, wacky, entertaining poems that are both appealing and fun to read! Encourage kids and tweens to move with the rhythms—and stories—they hear. Motivate them to add actions and other dramatic elements.
(By the way, for two great books with inspiring plans for acting out poems and many more suggestions for making poems come alive, try The Poetry Friday Anthology: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core (Pomelo Books, 2012) and The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core(Pomelo Books, 2013)— both compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.)
A Hatful of Dragons and More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems, by Vikram Madan. ISBN 978-1-68437-150-1. “In this funny book, Vikram Madan’s ingenious poems take many forms, from limerick to rebus to a fill-in-the-blank poem that offers more than 13.8 billion funny combinations. All feature clever wordplay, impeccable rhythm and rhyme, and riotous punchlines. This is a quirky collection of poems that readers will laugh their way through again and again.”
The Bubble Collector: Poems and Drawings by Vikram Madan. ISBN 9781482397611. “By combining playful, rhyming language with exuberant, cartoon-like drawings, tongue-in-cheek humor, and surprise twist-endings, Vikram Madan has created a fun and funny collection that is as clever as it is varied, and certain to delight readers of all ages over and over again.”
Lord of the Bubbles: And Other Funny Poems, by Vikram Madan. ISBN 978-1986885355. “Whether you’re making monsters in your backyard, shopping for doomsday machines, struggling with your boring homework, or just trying to go to sleep, the outlandish and everyday situations in this romp of a collection will have you in splits.”
No More Poems!: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse, by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat. ISBN 978-0316416528. “In the tradition of Shel Silverstein, these poems bring a fresh new twist to the classic dilemmas of childhood as well as a perceptive eye to the foibles of modern family life. Full of clever wordplay and bright visual gags–and toilet humor to spare–these twenty-three rhyming poems make for an ideal read-aloud experience.”
I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith. ISBN 978-0316427104. “Harris’s hilarious debut molds wit and wordplay, nonsense and oxymoron, and visual and verbal sleight-of-hand in masterful ways that make you look at the world in a whole new wonderfully upside-down way.”
It’s Raining Pigs & Noodles, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by James Stevenson. ISBN 978-0060291945. “The master of mischievous rhyme, Jack Prelutsky, and his partner in crime, James Stevenson, have whipped up a storm of more than one hundred hilarious poems and zany drawings. Grab your umbrella—and make sure it’s a big one!”
A Pizza the Size of the Sun, by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by James Stevenson. ISBN 978-0688132354. “Discover and enjoy a dozen duhduhs, a puzzled python, and the coolest teenage hippopotamus you’ll ever meet. Meet Miss Misinformation, Swami Gourami, and Gladiola Gloppe (and her Soup Shoppe), and delight in a backwards poem, a poem that ever ends, and scores of others.”
Boom! Bellow! Bleat!: Animal Poems for Two or More Voices, by Georgia Heard, illustrated by Aaron DeWitt. ISBN 978-1620915202. “These poems for two or more voices explore the myriad sounds animals make–from a frog’s jug-o-rum to a fish’s boom! to an elephant’s bark. Laced with humor, the poems are a delight to read aloud and cover all major classes of animals: mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects, even a crustacean!”
Messing Around on the Monkey Bars: and Other School Poems for Two Voices, by Betsy Franco, illustrated by Jessie Hartland. ISBN 978-0763631741. “Throughout this collection of nineteen poems — ideal for reading aloud in pairs, but just as much fun with one or many — words, pictures, and voices erupt in an irresistible invitation to join an exhilarating ride around school. So hop on the bus! The pencils are tapping, the clock is ticking, and reports are due…tomorrow?”
HOP TO IT: Poems to Get You Moving, compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong. ISBN 978-1937057299. “This is an anthology of 100 new poems by 90 poets—with STEM and social studies connections, thematic mini-lessons, read aloud tips, and extensive back matter featuring useful activities to help maximize student learning and social-emotional development. You can share a new poem or two each week of the school year and get kids thinking and moving as they read aloud their favorite poems using pantomime, sign language, and whole body movements—including deskercise! You’ll also find poems on current topics, such as life during a pandemic, wearing masks, virtual learning, staying connected with friends, and standing up for what you believe in.”