It would be easy to fill up a list with titles by Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Eugene Field, Edward Lear and Robert Louis Stevenson.
But since many of us already know about these amazing authors and their books, I've come up with a list of six others that aren't as well-known, but are sure to make "toenails twinkle" just the same.*
Fold Me a Poem
By Kristine O'Connell George and illustrated by Lauren Stringer
Harcourt Children's Books, 2005
$16, ages 4-8, 56 pages
A boy folds and plays with origami animals in this imaginative collection of 32 brief poems. Stringer's acrylic paintings are magical. On one page, an origami elephant emerges from a crumpled lunch bag and on another a floral-paper frog takes the place of a water lily on a floating leaf.
The Underwear Salesman and Other Jobs for Better or Verse
By J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Serge Bloch
Simon & Schuster, 2009
$16.99, ages 9-12, 64 pages
In this hilarious collection of poems, Lewis explores almost every job imaginable, from exterminator to paleontologist to bubble bath tester, while Bloch's ink cartoons leap around the page and delight with whimsical touches of collage. My favorite: the fashion designer with parsley hair.
Here's a Little Poem:
A Very First Book of Poetry
Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Candlewick Press, 2007
$21.99, ages baby/preschool, 112 pages
It's hard to think of a sweeter anthology than this one. Rosy-cheeked children tumble from page to page in this collection of more than 60 short verse by talents ranging from Margaret Wise Brown to Langston Hughes. No one captures the joy in a child like Dunbar.
Today at the Bluebird Cafe:
A Branchful of Birds
By Deborah Ruddell, illustrated by Joan Rankin
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007
$15.99, ages 4-8, 40 pages
Ruddell captures the personalities of more then 20 kinds of birds, from the high-flying Kingfisher to the sequined hummingbird, while Rankin's watercolors dance on the page. My favorite, when penguins in knit hats dream of flight. On the last page, you see them with ostriches and fish, floating from helium balloons in the sky.
I Heard it from Alice Zucchini:
Poems About the Garden
By Jaunita Havill, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Chronicle Books, 2006
$15.95, ages 9-12, 32 pages
A garden fairy flits around the vegetable garden in this enchanting collection of poems, brought to life by Davenier's whimsical watercolors. Among the many gems: "Dainty Doily Dill Weed / dances in the breeze, / waving yellow blossoms, / calling to the peas."
This is Just to Say:
Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
By Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2007
$16, ages 9-12, 48 pages.
Sixth-grade characters write poems to say they're sorry in this funny and touching collection, cleverly illustrated by Zagarenski. In one poem a student apologize for belting a ball at his friend in dodge ball; in another, for stealing a jelly donut from the teacher's lounge.
* This wonderful phrase was coined by the late Welsh poet Dylan Thomas when asked how poetry makes him feel.