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Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate 2007 - 09, a poet and huge supporter of children's poetry has given us his views on poetry - written especially for Lovereading4kids.

FROM MICHAEL ROSEN:

"Poetry is a special way of talking and writing. Poems are often musical, playing with the sounds of language while they tell stories, reveal feelings, make pictures and give us ideas. We all find this pleasurable, but children especially so. I guess that's because for very young children, language often comes at them as something they hear without necessarily understanding it. Then poems come along and hit the same channel, sound, rhythm, rhyme, repetition and all the other tricks in the poet's bag.

Poems can be snapshots: small pictures of a moment, an object, a scene, a feeling. They can be like photos in the family album: a moment frozen which we can look at over and over again and wonder why it matters to us.

Poems are also places where you don't have to say it all, they don't have to tie it up in a neat knot in the way that stories usually do. Poems can end with questions. Poems can end with no answers. Poems can pose problems. And that's fine, because life doesn't usually finish with neat little endings. Life itself is full of questions and problems. Particularly for children.

Poems are great for exploring those fascinating questions once posed by the painter Paul Gauguin: where do we come from? Where are we know? Where are we going? These are questions about what kind of background we have, what kinds of things we believe in and care about, what do we want our lives to look like in the future. Poems often explore these themes. And they do it in personal, direct ways, saying, in a thousand different ways: this is me, this is us, I wonder what kind of person I am, I wonder what's going to happen, and so on. And aren't these questions that children ask over and over again?

Poetry is great for what is almost the opposite of this: pretending we aren't who we say we are. Poets write poems where they pretend to be goddesses, houses, worms, graves, long dead ancestors, aliens. This allows poets to explore feelings they didn't know they had, and in so doing, they invite children to wonder about other lives, other states of existence, other possibilities.

Poetry can be impossible. As we proceed along our logical, sensible lines, relying on gravity to keep our plates on the table, days to follow nights, our blood to flow round our bodies, poems don't have to obey these rules. Whether it's through nonsense (remember the dish who ran way with the spoon?) or through making one thing like another, (perhaps our plates aren't sitting on the table; but rather, the table is tired of carrying the plates) poetry can get us to see the world in strange, new ways and from strange points of view.

Poems are often full of echoes, gathering together hints and memories of other poems, other stories, films, signs, speeches. They gather up and change words. It's as if poems like this point us at the very language we see and hear around us and invite us to stop, think and wonder if the words we are used to are right, honest or worthwhile. For children, this is especially important. If you think for a moment, very nearly all children enter school, using a language that is theirs, only to find that school is full of language that seems to belong to other people. If poetry plays with language and, through its music, invites children to remember and imitate it, this becomes a language that they can possess."

photograph - Graham Turner

... AND A WARNING TO GROWN-UPS FROM THE AUTHORS OF THE JUMBLE BOOK

Poetry is fun. Do not spoil it.

Do not make children read this book for homework. If you do you may be vaporized by a death ray.

Poems are allowed to have rude words because they are literature, so bum to you.

Do not ask children how these poems make them feel. It is a stupid question.

Do not try to analyse these poems: they may self-detonate.

If you can’t see the sense of it, that’s probably your fault.

Poems do not have to be written in grammatical sentences or have correct
punctuation, so nurch.

Do not tell people off for daydreaming. Poems come from daydreams.

Never make anyone copy out a poem. It spoils it.

Do not make children read these poems aloud in front of the whole class. If you do, you will be kidnapped by aliens and taken to Alpha Centauri and forced to mark Year Six homework for a thousand years.

Issued by the Galactic Authority and dictated by telepathy to Ken Follett, who wrote it all down with no crossings out.



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Poetry Books for Children


Children find Poetry incredibly pleasurable and our selection of books below are broken down into just 2 age ranges to give you some guidance. All the books are perfect for sharing at bedtime and for children to also enjoy alone. Always inspirational; collections of poetry will take the reader into another world.

Don't forget National Poetry Day, this year based on the theme of 'remember' is on 2 October. Click here to find out more.

Poetry books for under 7's


The Monster Sale
The Monster Sale
Brian Moses
The title poem launches a witty and varied anthology made the more tempting by the suitably benign monster on its attractive cover. Brian Moses writes entertainingly about a funky crocodile called Burt, What An Ardvark Likes to Do Best and...
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 02/05/2013
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Here Come the Creatures!
Here Come the Creatures!
Wes Magee
Delightful and kind humour bubbles through this collection of poems about everyday things in family life - and the creatures that are part of it. Among other things, there’s a look at garden birds, at a bumblebee, at a drink...
Featured in: 3+ readers | 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 02/05/2013
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The Language of Cat
The Language of Cat
Rachel Rooney
Winner of the CLPE (The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) Poetry Award 2012. Age 5+. With wordplay, riddles and poems that are funny, fast-paced, lyrical and thought-provoking, this is an exciting debut from an outstanding new poet. Awarding the prize, the...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Book Awards | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 05/05/2011
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What Happens When the Queen Burps?
What Happens When the Queen Burps?
John Foster
A great collection of riddles, rhymes and jokes designed to make readers laugh out loud – and they will! Best-selling John Foster knows his audience exceptionally well and taps into school humour unerringly as Clever Trevor’s Classroom Quips demonstrates superbly.
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | 9+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 07/02/2013
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What Do You Call a One-eyed Dinosaur?
What Do You Call a One-eyed Dinosaur?
John Foster
Dinosaurs seem to be a never ending source of jokes – their extraordinary appearance, their complicated names, they outrageous habits and the fact that not everything about them is already known, make them absolutely ripe for some good humoured prods....
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | 9+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 07/02/2013
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Under the Spell of the Moon
Under the Spell of the Moon
Katherine Paterson
Age 3+. Stunning illustrations from around the world lie at the heart of this beautiful book. Each has been gifted by its creator as a contribution to support the work of the International Board of Books for the Young. To...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 05/04/2012
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The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems
The Oxford Treasury of Classic Poems
Michael Harrison, Christopher Stuart-clark
Age 5+. There are a host of familiar and well-loved poems in this beautifully presented anthology. Dipping in and drawing out classic favourites such as W.H Auden’s 'The Night Mail' with its rolling rhythm that matches the sound of the...
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/09/2011
Price: £7.49- Saving £2.50 (25%)
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The Big Snuggle-up
The Big Snuggle-up
Brian Patten
Age: Baby +. On a cold winter's night one animal after another invites himself into a house and by the time it's bedtime there's all manner of animals and scarecrow tucked up by the fire. Some delightful close-up and colourful...
Featured in: 3+ readers | 5+ readers | Baby and Toddler | Books of the Month | Poetry
Format: Hardback - Released: 06/10/2011
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Scary Poems to make you Shiver
Scary Poems to make you Shiver
Susie Gibbs
Age 5+. Phantoms, ghosts, trick or treats, wild woods and being kidnapped- collectively it couldn’t be more scary. Will you be scared to death or do you enjoy getting goosebumps?
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 04/05/2006
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Lucky
Lucky
Roger Mcgough
5+. A fabulous collection of poems from one of the UK's best-loved poets. Deliciously witty, each of the fifty poems is a little firecracker of delight delivering knowledge and insights in a light and humorous way. Many are about animals...
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 03/05/2012
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There's a Lion in My Bathroom Non-Sense Poetry for Children
There's a Lion in My Bathroom Non-Sense Poetry for Children
Giles Paley-Phillips
Age 5+ Poetry.  This is a delightful collection of nonsense poetry complimented by some terrific illustrations that will leave the reader begging for more and smiling for days. With poems everyone will enjoy whatever their age, there really is something...
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 30/08/2010
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The Usborne Book of Poetry For Children
The Usborne Book of Poetry For Children

Age 5+ A beautiful collection of poetry to lose yourself in and to treasure for life. The wonder of the words is superbly complemented by some stunning illustrations.
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Hardback - Released: 28/09/2007
Price: £11.99- Saving £4.00 (25%)
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The Sun In Me
The Sun In Me
Judith Nicholls
Age 5+ This is a wonderful collection of poems, whose theme is the world around us and how we see nature through the eyes of a child, through wonder and intense curiosity. A terrific book to share the wonders of...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 01/03/2008
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The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry
The Puffin Book of Utterly Brilliant Poetry
Brian Patten
Age 6+ This is a wonderful celebration of poems by ten of the most outstanding poets of the last 30 years or so. There’s something here for all the family to share and enjoy, time after time. There’s even an...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 26/08/1999
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The King of Quizzical Island Digs Through the World
The King of Quizzical Island Digs Through the World
Gordon Snell
Age 3+. This is one of the loveliest picture books that's been published in 2011 to share with your toddler.  In the extraordinary adventures of the King of Quizzical Island, the King decides he must prove to his citizens that...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 07/06/2012
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Seaside Poems
Seaside Poems
Jill Bennett
Age 3+. A wonderful collection of poetry perfect to read together with your toddler this summer on your beach holiday. Beach holidays will never be the same once you’ve read this.
Featured in: 3+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 06/04/2006
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Rumble in the Jungle
Rumble in the Jungle
Giles Andreae
Age 0-5. This wonderful collection of animal poems gives toddlers and young children the chance to be introduced to poetry via the world of jungle. Written by Giles Andreae, one of Britain's bestselling modern poets Rumble in the Jungle is...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Baby and Toddler | Poetry
Format: Mixed Media Product - Released: 01/02/2007
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Revolting Rhymes
Revolting Rhymes
Roald Dahl
Age 6+ A brilliant collection of comic and often gory versions of popular fairy tales.
Featured in: 5+ readers | 7+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 04/09/2008
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Revolting Poems To Make You Squirm
Revolting Poems To Make You Squirm
Susie Gibbs
Age 5+. Slimy, stinky fun is on the menu when you read this collection of poetry. There are poems about bugs, about spots, about worms and the best of all is the one about black socks!
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Format: Paperback - Released: 03/08/2006
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Puzzling Poems To Drive You Crazy
Puzzling Poems To Drive You Crazy
Susie Gibbs
Age 5+. A poetry book to keep your child amused in the loo, in the bath or simply when they’re bored, it’s full of brain twisting poems that may drive you crazy but will also delight you in your cleverness...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 03/08/2006
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Night - Night, Knight
Night - Night, Knight
Michael Rosen
Age 0-5+ People, cats, hats, the silvery moon are just some of the entertaining images you’ll see and hear in this entertaining and colourfully illustrated collection of poems, compiled by award-winning poet and Children’s Laureate, Michael Rosen. Written in lots...
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Format: Paperback - Released: 04/10/1999
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My First Oxford Book Of Poems
My First Oxford Book Of Poems
John Foster
Age 0 - 5+ A delightful first collection of poetry for young children with many old favourites and plenty new too. From the fantastical and nonsensical to everyday creatures and the weather you and your child will be charmed by...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 03/08/2006
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Michael Rosen's Book Of Very Silly Poems
Michael Rosen's Book Of Very Silly Poems
Michael Rosen
Age 6+ Containing all the ingredients of Michael Rosen's poetry - humour, rhyme, repetition and wordplay, this Book of Very Silly Poems covers all sorts of topics, all equally amusing and jovial.
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry | eBooks
Format: Paperback - Released: 27/06/1996
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Hey Little Bug Poems for Little Creatures
Hey Little Bug Poems for Little Creatures
James Carter
Age 5+Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin: Hey, Little Bug! is a charming and tender collection written for the ‘little bugs’ that constantly absorb sights and sounds around them. As a performer of poetry, James Carter writes...
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Format: Paperback - Released: 04/08/2011
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Here Comes the Poetry Man Poems for Young People
Here Comes the Poetry Man Poems for Young People
Fred Sedgwick
Age 5+. Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin: Fred Sedgwick has a wealthy background of children’s poetry, and his new collection Here Comes the Poetry Man certainly shows this. Written for young children, the poems deal with...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 15/02/2011
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Everybody Was a Baby Once
Everybody Was a Baby Once
Allan Ahlberg
Age 3+.  Shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award 2011, which honours excellence in poetry written for children. A wonderful collection of the simplest and most joyous poems produced in a gorgeous picture book format. Nineteen delightful poems about everything from meeting a...
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Format: Paperback - Released: 01/09/2011
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Even My Ears are Smiling
Even My Ears are Smiling
Michael Rosen
Age 3+. Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen’s wonderfully touching and witty poems take readers through many familiar family moments such as Dad loosing his glasses in 'Where are his Glasses?' as well as some wildly inventive experiences as in 'A...
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Format: Hardback - Released: 03/10/2011
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Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum
Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum
Julia Donaldson
Age 5+ Crazy Mayonnaisy Mum is packed with all sorts of hilarious poems and rhymes. This book comes complete with some fantastic illustrations by Nick Sharratt.
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 04/03/2005
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Collected Poems For Children
Collected Poems For Children
Ted Hughes
Age 5+. An essential poetry collection for children of all ages that brings together the poems that Ted Hughes wrote for children throughout his life. The text is complemented by some completely stunning illustrations by Raymond Briggs. Divided according to...
Featured in: 5+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 06/03/2008
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Brian Wildsmith's Favourite Nursery Rhymes
Brian Wildsmith's Favourite Nursery Rhymes
Brian Wildsmith
Age 3+. Prize-winning illustrator Brian Wildsmith’s distinctive illustration bring this collection of best-loved nursery rhymes beautifully to life. There’s a gorgeously fat cow jumping over the moon while the cat fiddles below, a delightfully merry King Cole relishing his fiddlers...
Featured in: 3+ readers | Poetry
Format: Paperback - Released: 05/03/2009
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An Imaginary Menagerie
An Imaginary Menagerie
Roger Mcgough
Age 5+. A Lovereading4kids 'Great Read' you may have missed 2011 selection. Reviewed and selected by our poetry expert, Liam Parkin: Roger McGough is one of the most well-liked and revered poets we have today and his children’s poetry is always imaginative...
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Format: Paperback - Released: 05/05/2011
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A Spider Bought A Bicycle
A Spider Bought A Bicycle
Michael Rosen
Age 6+ This collection is an ideal introduction to the joys of poetry. Favourite children's poet Michael Rosen knows just what will appeal most to children. Deliberately wide-ranging, it includes the work of classic poets such as Tennyson and Coleridge...
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Format: Paperback - Released: 18/04/2005
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