Poetry books for upper elementary classrooms can be tricky to find. Students are beyond the simple poems of younger grades, but might not be quite ready for the poetry they’ll read in high school. Free verse books are a great way to keep students engaged in poems!
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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In this powerful book, Woodson details her childhood through free verse. Growing up in the 1960s, she lived in Ohio, South Carolina and New York. Each one provided her with a vastly different culture and experience.
Little Dog, Lost by Marion Dane Bauer
Mark is a boy who needs a dog. Buddy is a dog who needs a boy. And Mr. LaRue is a neighbor who needs a community. The book weaves together the lives of three needy souls into a tale of realized dreams.
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech
Jack hates poetry. But the more he writes, the more he learns he has to say. A great way to show a student may slowly start to appreciate poetry. An emotional one to share with your class!
Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech
The companion to Love that Dog. Jack is back and we learn more about his family and a fat black cat. Both books will help students understand poetry and express their feelings through words.
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
A moving story of survival and finding hope in the middle of the war in Sudan. Through free verse, it addresses the complications that go along with the war in a way that is easy for students to understand. A great pairing for the novel, A Long Walk to Water.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
A story of family, both on and off the court. Through a series of poems, twins JD and Jordan Bell, make their way through middle school the best that they can. Each chapter uses a different style of poetry with themes of family, friendship, courage and sportsmanship woven through.
More poetry books for upper elementary
- Moo by Sharon Creech
- Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
- Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie by Julie Sternberg
And check out this list of picture book poems here!