Summer Reading–Time for Poetry

I’m looking forward to lots of things about the summer, including less homework and more time for reading. Of course we’ll be reading poetry! Below are some of the books I’m planning to dive into. In addition to these, I’ll be visiting the library regularly and bringing home plenty of poetry surprises.












Water Can Be by Laura Purdie Salas. Salas’ poetic appreciation of water came out this year. I loved her book BookSpeak! Poems about Books. I’m looking forward to reading this poetic nonfiction book for younger readers, as well as its predecessor A Leaf Can Be. Plus, the illustrations look gorgeous and Salas is giving 10% of her proceeds to WaterAid, a nonprofit organization working around the world to ensure there’s clean water for everyone.













Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems edited by Paul Janeczko. Everyone seems to be talking about this book and the exceptional poems Janeczko has included. I love short poems, and I often feel they get short shrift, so I’m happy to seem them highlighted here.











Hi, Koo! by Jon Muth. I love Muth’s picture book Zen Shorts, I love haiku, and I love cute and clever titles. Need I say more? I’m especially excited to see that these haiku break free of the 5-7-5 syllable rule!












Pirates by David Harrison. When my son finished David Harrison’s book Cowboys, he sighed and said, “That’s all?” Yes, that was all of the cowboy poems, but now we can read about pirates! I especially appreciated that the cowboy book had been thoroughly researched and included poems from a variety of viewpoints. I expect the pirate book will too.











Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems by J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. I can get quirky, crazy, well-crafted poems about vehicles by both J. Patrick Lewis and Doug Florian in one book? Sign me up.














Rutherford B Who Was He? Poems about Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer. My youngest loves history, and Marilyn Singer is the brilliant author of Mirror, Mirror and many other books of poetry. How could we not read this?














Miss Emily by Burleigh Muten. My interest in Emily Dickinson and her work was rekindled a few years ago when I visited her home in Amherst, Massachusetts and read White Heat, a fascinating book about her relationship with Thomas Wentworth Higginson. I’m curious to see how this book in verse for children 7-10 portrays the reclusive but apparently playful poet.














Good Luck Gold by Janet Wong. Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell are the editors of the Poetry Friday anthologies and tireless advocates for children’s poetry. Janet Wong is also an award-winning poet who draws upon her Chinese and Korean cultural heritage in her work. I loved her second book A Suitcase of Seaweed and Other Poems. I’m looking forward to reading her first book Good Luck Gold.














The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. I was completely sold on this book when I read the first four lines on the inside of the cover! Josh Bell plays basketball, and he rhymes, and he has a twin brother, and there’s a new girl in school. I’m guessing this novel in verse for readers 9-12 will interest lots of kids (and grown ups).














The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle. Over the winter holiday I read Engle’s wonderful book Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal. I loved Engle’s use of poetry to tell the story of the many different peoples involved in the project. She even included poems from the perspectives of the animals displaced by the construction. The information was eye-opening, and the poetry was lovely. This summer I’m looking forward to reading more of Engle’s novels in verse including The Firefly Letters which is for readers 10-15 and tells the story of Fredrika Bremer, a Swedish woman who visits Cuba in 1851 and forges relationships with Cecelia, the young slave from Africa who accompanies her, and Elena, the daughter of a wealthy Cuban family.













How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson. In this fictionalized memoir, Nelson uses 50 unrhymed sonnets to tell the story of an African American girl growing up in America in the 1950s. The book, for kids 12 and up, appears to tell an intimate personal story in a powerful historical context.


What poetry books are on your summer reading list?

For more Poetry Friday, please visit Carol’s Corner.

20 replies
  1. Bridget Magee says:

    I think you and I have the same summer reading list! I have a few of these titles with me on vacation right now. Excellent choice in books, Liz! = )

  2. Laura Purdie Salas says:

    Oooh, I’ve read some of these and adored them, so the ones I haven’t read are going right onto my tbr list (or are already there!). I’m honored to have Water Can Be… on your list–hope you like it!

    Also, Pirates, by David L. Harrison, is one of my all-time favorite collections. Top 5 for sure. I did a PF post where David and Dan talked about their process–really fun to hear. It doesn’t look too beautiful anymore, since I switched blogs, but it’ll do.

    Happy reading!

  3. lsteinglass says:

    Thanks Laura,
    It will be really fun to listen to the interview after we’ve read the pirate book. I’ve been hearing great things about Water Can Be!

  4. jama says:

    What a great list! I’ve read a few but you’ve given me some good suggestions. Started reading WHITE HEAT — couldn’t finish it. Love Burleigh’s book, though (her interview at AS has been postponed till early August).

    • lsteinglass says:

      Thanks, Jama. I’m sorry the interview’s been postponed but now I’ve something to look forward to. That also gives me motivation to finish before then.

  5. readingtothecore says:

    These are all terrific choices! Firefly July has turned into one of my favorite poetry collections. Several of these are on my TBR list, too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. maryleehahn says:

    This is just to say that I have been here and read your words, but surgery on both thumbs last Tuesday prevents me from typing a personalized comment. Forgive me — copy/paste is the best I can do this week! 🙂

    • lsteinglass says:

      You are, of course, forgiven! I just hope the surgery was a success and your recovery goes well and you’ll be up for typing again soon!

  7. Linda Baie says:

    I’ve read some of these, Liz. Water Can Be and Firefly July and Miss Emily-all wonderful! I have How I Discovered Poetry & hope to get to it soon. Thanks for the Janet Wong title & Crossover-haven’t seen these & will put them on the list too. Happy Reading!

  8. Wilcox Carol says:

    Liz, thanks so much for this fabulous list. My last day of school was yesterday and as soon as I finish the Poetry Friday Roundup, I’m headed to the library. Wonder how many of these I can find today?

  9. Myra GB says:

    Oh wow, what a wonderful list you have here. Paul Janeczko is also a personal favourite of mine – I love his poetry picturebooks – but haven’t chanced upon Firefly July yet. I also love Margarita Engle’s novels-in-verse and very glad to see Firefly letters here. I think I have to find Marilyn Nelson’s How I discovered poetry. 🙂

  10. hmmmmm says:

    I was away all weekend and when I got home tonight my 8 y.o. wanted to read aloud to each other from Caroline Kennedy’s POEMS TO LEARN BY HEART. And later, when I went up to read to her at bedtime, she had written a poem called “I Can Imagine…” about a robot with a heart. 🙂
    Thanks for the list — it is great to have.

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