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Best & Brightest Children's Poetry of 2020


This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library staff to celebrate our favorite recently published children's poetry. Enjoy!

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Just Like Me
Brantley-Newton, Vanessa, author.
Preschool-3rd grade. “From Vanessa Brantley-Newton...comes a collection of poetry filled with engaging mini-stories about girls of all kinds: girls who feel happy, sad, scared, powerful; girls who love their bodies and girls who don’t; country girls, city girls; girls who love their mother and girls who wish they had a father.” --From the publisher. This is a heartwarming poetry collection for anyone looking for inspiration and a happy, powerful guide for early life. The bright, multimedia illustrations complement poems encouraging readers to embrace kindness, unity and themselves.
Woke: A Young Poet's Call To Justice
Browne, Mahogany L., author.
2nd grade & up. “Woke: A Young Poet's Guide to Justice is a collection of poems to inspire kids to stay woke and become a new generation of activists. Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.” --From the publisher. Browne has created and compiled this collection of poems to speak to a rising generation and ensure they know the meaning of “woke." Each poem has a relevant social theme that both educates and inspires. This collection would be a perfect addition to any social justice curriculum or to spark kids’ civic engagement.
Amphibian Acrobats
Bulion, Leslie, 1958- author.
3rd-6th grade. “Step right up and learn all about the lively participants in the Amphibian Acrobat show—from the agile Wallace’s flying frog to the bouncing Venezuelan pebble toad to the tricky salamander called the yellow-eyed ensatina.” --From the publisher. Anatomically accurate (but still fun) illustrations animate twenty engaging poems, each featuring a different poetic style. Factual context for each amphibian grounds the collection, including a glossary, explanation of poetic style, map and amphibian size guide. A call to action to protect the most vulnerable species rounds out the collection.
A Hatful Of Dragons: And More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems
Madan, Vikram, author, illustrator.
Kindergarten-5th grade. “This funny poetry book is chock-full of unusual characters: panda and pangolin musicians, mail-order eggs that hatch (surprise!) dinosaurs, ten aliens with a garden-gnome pal, a robot uncle, lots and lots of dragons, and a professor who uses his Page Machine to travel to multiple pages within the book. Vikram Madan’s ingenious poems take many forms, from limerick to rebus to a fill-in-the-blank poem that offers more than 13.8 billion funny combinations.” --From the publisher. For kids who have not yet found poetry that speaks to them, try this gleeful tour of various poetic forms, accompanied by silly cartoon illustrations. With the look and feel of a joke book, A Hatful of Dragons lets readers know that poetry can be seriously fun through rollicking rhymes and hybrid comic book styling.
Cast Away: Poems For Our Time
Nye, Naomi Shihab, author.
5th grade & up. “Acclaimed poet and Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye shines a spotlight on the things we cast away, from plastic water bottles to those less fortunate, in this collection of more than eighty original and never-before-published poems.” --From the publisher. In the ubiquity of human-created garbage are endless, heart-wrenchingly specific stories. Nye illuminates meaning in what we throw away. With candor and grace, Nye confronts challenging ideas that are nonetheless familiar to children, like hunger and war. Through it all, Nye traces a throughline of compassion and beauty.
Follow The Recipe: Poems About Imagination, Celebration, & Cake
Singer, Marilyn, author.
Preschool-2nd grade. “Even young children are familiar with recipes – a series of steps to help them make something – and the book begins with simple dishes and ideas (such as a recipe for reading a recipe and a recipe for measuring), and then adds more ideas and grows in sophistication until the last recipes broach lofty concepts (such as a recipe for understanding and a recipe for peace).” --From the publisher. In confident, reassuring poems, Singer discovers new poignance in familiar ideas, from first crushes to the bravery needed to be kind to others. Collage illustrations splash across the pages like the beautiful messes that come together when cooking. Like recipes in a cookbook, these poems distill a complicated world down to its essential elements.

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