8 poetry anthologies to soothe a troubled heart or to rest an aching body

ages birth to 12 years (and beyond) / collections, language

Poetry is the language of romance—but at our house it has always been the language of recovery. When I had a child who was just sick enough to languish in our bed, perhaps with a temperature that needed monitoring, I would read poetry to them. Max was especially enamoured of these days and once asked if he was ‘sick enough for a poem’.

So, here's a collection of 8 poetry picture books for children; to read on sick days or on days when they are just sick enough. And that’s any day, isn’t it?

 A Child’s Garden of Verses – my copy was printed the year I was born and is an aged and yellowed treasure. My favourite poem from this book (as a child and still as an adult) is My Shadow.

Knock at a Star – a witty look at poetry and how it works with a nice range of styles from classics to just plain fun like The Pickety Fence by David McCord. You can hear the fun in this one....

Classic Poetry – the very lengthy Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow was a regular favourite but I was never sure if it was the poem they loved or the fact that it was long that it pinned me down for a longer time.

Poems to Learn by Heart – a great collection with a sweeping range of poetry. I especially appreciate that the famous Martin Neimoller quote  “First they came for the socialists” is included. It may not have started as poetry in Neimoller’s mind but it is certainly poetic. 

100 Best Poems for Children - chosen by children, edited by Roger McCough and illustrated by Sheila Moxley. Those were pretty highbrow children: they included The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson. But they also picked Fox in Sox by Dr Seuss.

Haven’t you Grown – all about families, with poems ranging from tender The Grandmother by Ray Young Bear to ditty like School Concert by Marchette Chute - which will ring true to many a parent and child....  

A World of Poetry - a wonderful collection of modern and classic poems ranging from a heartbreaking selection from The Cry of the Children by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to a funny recounting of a boy watching his dad shaving in Whiskers by Barrie Whittle.

8. Great Poems – 500 plus pages of charmingly illustrated poetry, some confronting, some amusing, some soothing, some reassuring.

In each of those anthologies there are poems that will appeal to the youngest child and poems that I would save for teens. Sir Walter Scott (who wrote Waverly  and Ivanhoe among others) said:

"Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary."

I’m fairly certain that adults get the benefit of all those things too – there are few deeper and sweeter pleasures than reading poetry to child, sick or well.

Also - this book which has beautiful words and pictures and is a favourite of Joan's

We've linked most of the titles to Book Depository because they do free worldwide shipping, but here are our other affiliate links if you'd prefer to search via them: Amazon - Booktopia

Just mentioning, the last three anthologies are out of print – but shouldn’t be! Maybe you'll come across them in book piles or find them in a library.