In my experience, poetry is often overlooked in school and the collection of anthologies available for pupils and staff is often dated or tatty. But why? Why?! Poetry is the ultimate ‘quick-read’ – it can take seconds to read and enjoy a poem.
Perfect to fit in a spare moment, to giggle over during independent reading, or to enunciate as you perform aloud. Poems have to tell their readers a story in a very limited amount of space so every word has to count. How often are child allowed to read poems just for the pleasure of it? Not to analyse and dissect?
If you’re looking to expand or update your poetry collection, here are some of the newest titles which have come my way recently and may just be what you’re looking for.
’Poems Aloud’ by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett (Wide Eyed Editions)
I have had the pleasure of listening to Coelho perform his poetry aloud, and he is truly hypnotic. This collection of his poems may just infuse their performers with the same magic he possesses, as there are plenty of tips and techniques to build confidence and performance skills.
Full of tongue-twisters, riddles, poems to shout and poems to whisper, this collection is sure to bring out the performer in anyone. The plentiful illustrations make this a great choice for younger poets as well as older.
‘The Magic of Mums’ by Justin Coe, illustrated by Steve Wells (Otter-Barry Books)
This collection focuses on mums in all their guises – 46 of them! A wonderful and diverse range of mothers are represented from animal mums to dads-who-are-also-mums. Cleverly observed, there’s the bake-off mum, the celebrity mum, the football and two mums.
I enjoyed that poetry in a variety of forms and a range of tones were included. Some poems were funny and some were poignant. Some long and some short. Plenty within for readers to think about and savour.
’Bright Bursts of Colour’ by Matthew Goodfellow, illustrated by Alexsei Bitskoff (Bloomsbury)
This rather wonderful collection comes from new poet, Matt Goodfellow. It reflects the whole range of human emotion with some poems making you giggle and some making you pause for thought. Several of Matt’s poems are set in or around school and give away his background as a teacher. Carefully observed friendships and memories of school shine from the pages.
‘Chameleon Kids’ made me stop and think as it reminded me of some of the pupils I’ve taught over the years who’ve put up protective barriers between themselves and the outside world.
’There’s a Crocodile in the House’ by Paul Cookson, illustrated by Liz Millions ( Otter-Barry Books)
Paul Cookson has been writing, performing and inspiring children with poetry for almost thirty years. His newest anthology contains something for everyone: aliens, football, school trips and pirates!
I think this collection has wide appeal, but would also be great for younger primary school children. It’s packed with humour and also contains very handy performance tips. Why not use it as inspiration to hold a poetry jam?
’Poems From a Green and Blue Planet’ edited by Sabrina Mahfouz and illustrated by Aaron Cushley (Hodder Children’s Books)
This is a truly beautiful collection poems collated by Royal Society of Literature Fellow, Sabrina Mahfouz. Each poem was selected to transport its reader around the world or back in time, celebrating the constantly changing landscapes of our world.
Organised into sections according to the elements: water, earth, ice and others, there are poems from any cultures and languages, including translations beside beloved classics. Over 100 poems to dip into and enjoy, and to make the reader think about the precious planet we live on.
’A Year of Nature Poems’ by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Kelly Louise Judd (Wide Eyed Editions)
This is a beautifully illustrated stroll through the year, with a poem for every month, and is currently nominated for the Carnegie Medal. Readers will discover the twelve types of daffodil during March, learn about jellyfish blooms in July, and enter hibernation with the bears during November.
Coehlo’s gorgeous lyrical poetry is perfectly complemented by Kelly Judd’s lush folk art inspired illustrations. A volume to treasure and to inspire readers to look closely at their own environments and the emotions they inspire.
I hope that you’ve found something wonderful to add to your poetry collections, whether at home or at school, for yourself or for others.
*Many thanks to all the publishers who sent me these titles to review*