In honor of National Poetry Month, we’ve put together a list of our favorite poetry books for children.
The Wild Book, by Margarita Engle. Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012.
This is a beautiful book written by the award-winning, Cuban-American poet Margarita Engle. Inspired by the childhood of her own grandmother, this beautiful tale chronicles “Fefa’s” struggle with dyslexia. The novel is written in verse with short poems that share important moments of Fefa’s life. Latino children who struggle with dyslexia may find a voice and some comfort within the pages of this book, but it is a lovely story for any child. It would be especially great as a read-aloud, and is best suited for children ages 8 and up.
Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem, by Jorge Argueta. Groundwood Books, 2012.
This is the third book in a series of “cooking poems” by Ecuadorian poet, Jorge Argueta. “Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar, A Cooking Poem” is more than just a simple recipe centered around the traditional Latin dish. Instead, it is a glimpse into the world of a child who creates something special for her family using her imagination and joyful spirit. Told in the first person, our narrator is a young girl for whom aguacates resemble green precious stones, limes are like big crystal marbles, and their seeds like little pearls. This delightful book comes with full text in both English and Spanish. Great for kids ages 4 to 7.
Under the Mambo Moon by Julia Durango. Charlesbridge Pub Inc, 2011.
Inside the pages of this unique story, readers can explore various types of Latin-American music – from Colombia’s cumbia to the Dominican merengue to the candombé of Uruguay. Young Marisol is the narrator of this book. She helps out her Papi at his music store where people come in to buy their favorite songs. Interspersed throughout the book are brief poems told by each customer who enters the store to buy the music of their homeland. João is a fan of bossa nova, while Professor Soto prefers Andean tunes that he has heard played on a zampoña player. Mr. and Mrs. Mayer are tango dancers, but young Gabriel loves the vallenatos of Colombia. Written in English with some embedded Spanish text. Ages 4 and up.
Colors! Colores! by Jorge Luján. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2004.
Children will enjoy exploring the beautiful colors of nature in this book of short poems by Luján. Grober’s watercolors are fluid and complement the poems perfectly. Written with full text in both English and Spanish. Ages 4 to 7 years.
Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico! Americas’ Sproutings written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Lee & Low Books, 2007.
Mora’s first book of haiku poetry introduces 14 types of food native to the Americas. From vanilla to arándano rojo to chocolate, readers will relish Mora’s simple verse and López’s rich illustrations. Together they create a beautiful work of literary art. In addition to the haikus, a brief history accompanies each food, which lends an additional educational element to the book. It is available in English or Spanish. Ages 6 and up.
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.