The Poetry Zone used to run a regular poetry book guide for teachers and classrooms. Below are some of the books I’d recommend for your class. Some are no longer in print – but they can all be found second hand on the internet.

For current poetry book reviews – try our reviews section.

Wild! Poems That Roar Poems chosen by James Carter and Graham Denton

Illustrator: Jane Eccles
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books £4.99 84pp ISBN 0-330-46341-6
Age Range: 7 – 12 and older
Quality of Writing: Excellent throughout. A great range of witty, sensitive, but mainly thoughtful, poems about wild creatures.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes indeed.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: Useful, with a sprinkling of animal facts and a few quizzes. I can see both boys and girls enjoying this at playtimes.
Final Verdict: Buy one for every class and the library. 

Pirate Poems by David Harmer

Illustrator: Matt Buckingham
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books £3.99 88pp ISBN 978-0-330-45181-9
Age Range: 7 – 12 and older
Quality of Writing: Excellent. I always find it difficult writing about pirates for children – they are so bloodthirsty! (The pirates – not the children.) But here David Harmer does it with style.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes indeed. Lots of fun and lots of joining in. Lots of variation and some great illustrations.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: Very useful if you’re using pirates as a means of getting into other things. Lots of odd facts but mainly lots of fun in a good range of poetic styles.
Final Verdict: Buy a set for the classroom. This book could become a classic.

Hey, Little Bug! Poems for Little Creatures by James Carter

Illustrator: Mique Moriuchi

Published by Frances Lincoln’s Children’s Books
ISBN: 978-1847801685
Age Range: 3 – 7
Quality of Writing: Excellent. Full of quiet, tender and fun poems for little ones. And not, thank goodness, twee and sentimental.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes. A good variety of poems with lots to join in with and learn by heart. Lovely illustrations, too.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: A wonderful introduction for young children to the delights of poetry.
Final Verdict: Buy one for the classroom, one for the school library and one for every child you know under the age of seven.

Space Poems chosen by Gaby Morgan

Illustrator: Jane Eccles
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books 88pp £3.99
ISBN: 0-330-44057-8
Age Range: 5 and older
Quality of Writing: Very good. An excellent collection of poems by a wide range of contemporary children’s poets. It’s great to see poems written for younger children in this format, too.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: Excellent. Lots of fun poems for younger readers.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes. Great fun.
Visual Presentation: A good front cover, lovely illustrations and a nice size text for the age group – all well laid out.
Final Verdict: A first class book for KS1 and younger KS2. Buy a set for your classroom!

The Secret Lives of Teachers Poems chosen by Brian Moses

Illustrator: Various
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books 200pp £4.99
ISBN: 0-330-43282-6
Age Range: 7- 12
Quality of Writing: Very good.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes they will.
Value for money: Excellent value for money. Brian Moses’  three best-selling Secret Lives of Teachers books all rolled in to one. Not best-quality paper – but two hundred pages for a fiver. You can’t complain about that.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: Useful. A wide range of poems, mainly funny or irreverent  from the best children’s poets of the last few years. Especially good for less-motivated boys or those children who think they don’t like poetry.
Final Verdict: Your classroom needs this book.

Black’s Rhyming and Spelling Dictionary by  Pie Corbett and Ruth Thomson

Illustrators: Various
Publisher: A & C Black
ISBN: 0 – 7136 – 6510 – 6
Age Range: 7+
Quality of Writing: Excellent. There are many rhyming dictionaries on the market but I think this one is about the best for the junior age range. As well as the rhyming dictionary itself, which is laid out in a very straightforward and easy to understand way, there are tips on writing poetry, notes on different types of poems and lots of examples. “Rain smacks, attacks ramshackle back streets. Lightning crackles, cracks, the glistening back of the tarmac night.”
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: Every classroom should have one. No – make that a dozen.
Final Verdict: A good looking, lively and fun book. And a useful classroom tool.

Under the Moon and Over the Sea
A Collection of Caribbean Poems compiled by John Agard and Grace Nichols

Illustrators: Cathie Felstead, Jane Ray, Christopher Corr, Satoshi Kitamura, Sara Fanelli
Publisher: Walker Books. Large format – hardback. 78pp £14.99
ISBN: 0 – 7445 – 3736 – 3
Age Range: 7 and above
Quality of Writing: Excellent throughout. Traditional Caribbean rhymes mixed with well-loved poets such as John Agard, Grace Nichols, James Berry, Valerie Bloom and Bejamin Zephaniah as well as lesser-known poets.
Usefulness as Teaching Tool: A useful book when talking about Caribbean culture and issues of race etc. – but more importantly a great book for its poetry – full of verve, rhythm and colour.
Fun Factor. Will children like it? Yes they will.
Visual Presentation: Excellent. Big, bold, often clever and interesting illustrations. Good for the school library and you might like one for home, too.
Final Verdict: First class.

And finally I’d like to suggest one of my own.

The Jumble Book Poems chosen by Roger Stevens for Dyslexia Action and Illustrated by Sarah Nayler. 
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books. 86pp 978-0-330-46865-7
A great collection of poems by some of the best poets around including Michael Rosen, Roger McGough and John Hegley.

About one in ten people in the UK are affected by some degree of dyslexia which, in its severest form, makes ordinary books difficult or impossible to read. As well as lots of great poems that will be enjoyed by everyone, layout, font and paper colour have been designed to make the book easy to read for people with dyslexia. The book was published in conjunction with Dyslexia Action.