Poetry for You: the best new poetry books, recommended by

leading editors of children’s poetry

2020 for all its challenges has been a year of poetry, something that has really cheered all of us at Books for Keeps. As everyone enjoys the celebrations for National Poetry Day, we asked the poetry editors who are behind the upsurge in children’s poetry to tell us about the new collections coming this autumn and into spring 2021.

Another highlight this year is Slam! You’re Gonna Wanna Hear This edited by Nikita Gill. This is a joyful celebration of the ground- breaking poets making their voices heard in the spoken word scene. With poets such as Raymond Antrobus, Sophia Thakur and Dean Atta guest starring alongside up-and-coming poets, this is the perfect introduction to the world of modern poetry for teens and up and there is a fantastic audio book too.

Paul Cookson’s latest collection Football 4 Every 1 fantastically funny poems for all footy fans! is illustrated by Martin Chatterton and includes 92 brilliant poems – one for every minute of the match plus one for half-time and one for extra time. This highly illustrated paperback book captures all of the emotions involved in following the beautiful game.

Gaby Morgan, editorial director, Macmillan Children’s Books

We are living in interesting times and poetry has been a source of great comfort and support to so many people – I have never seen so much poetry shared on social media and so many poems going viral. I was working on Poems to Save the World with Chris Riddell – the third of his exquisitely illustrated gift anthologies – as lockdown began, and the book evolved to fit the moment. It is filled with poems of hope and consolation and poems that speak of unity and togetherness from poets as varied as William Blake, Neil Gaiman, Roger McGough, Maggie Smith, Fiona Benson and Anne Sexton.

Ana Sampson delivered the manuscript for She Will Soar: Bright, brave poems of freedom by women, a sister collection for the wonderful and much praised She Is Fierce: Brave, bold and beautiful poems by women, at the start of the year. We had no idea just how relevant an uplifting collection of poems about freedom, wanderlust and escape written by women would be this autumn. It includes poems from over 100 poets from the ancient world right up to the present day including Carol Ann Duffy, Nikita Gill, Salena Godden, Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson and Grace Nichols. This beautiful book includes a biography of each poet at the back.

Allie Esiri has selected poems from her bestselling anthologies – A Poem for Every Night of the Year and A Poem for Every Day of the Year – to make four seasonal paperback volumes. They are beautiful and perfectly portable so that you can have exactly the right poem for any given day to hand. A Poem for Every Autumn Day published in August and A Poem for Every Winter Day publishes on the 29th of October.

Next Spring I am really looking forward to publishing a beautiful paperback edition of Poems to Fall in Love With, poems about all kinds of love selected and illustrated by Chris Riddell.

In February we have Shaping the World 40 Historical Heroes in Verse compiled by Liz Brownlee. This is a gorgeous, quirky gift hardback anthology of shape poems in the shape of world shapers! Each poem has a biography, quote and fascinating fact on the facing page. There are poems about Socrates, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Greta Thunberg, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst and Rosa Parks to name but a few.

Finally, don’t miss The Best Ever Book of Funny Poems chosen by Brian Moses coming in March and perfect for readers of 7+. This wonderfully funny anthology includes poems about pets, funny creatures, school, family, fantasy and fairy-tales, dinosaurs and dragons, space, and just plain silly poems.

Janetta Otter-Barry, Otter-Barry Books

2020 has been a year of brilliant poetry for all ages from Otter-Barry Books.

We started the year with Paul Cookson’s captivating There’s a Crocodile in the House. Paul pitched this collection to a KS1 audience though, like all poetry, it works for a wide age range. I love the mischief and jokes that mingle with the quieter poems – and a special feature is the ‘performance tips’ so teachers/librarians/parents can make the most of this highly interactive collection.

Another fantastic book with instructions for adult participation is Big Green Crocodile, by preschool practitioner Jane Newberry and Carolina Rabei. It’s a picture book of play rhymes and I love that these rhymes are completely original, yet tried and tested by the author, and that it’s easy to act them out with babies and toddlers. There are beautiful colour illustrations too.

I admire the diversity and inclusion of Justin Coe’s The Magic of Mums. There’s empathy and sensitivity in these poems about 46 different kinds of mum. Laughter and fun are hugely important and the mainly rhyming verse makes the poems very accessible, but there’s also a serious exploration of what it means to be a mother.

Books for Keeps National Poetry Day 2020 7

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