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100 Essential Poems for Junior and Middle Grade Students to Learn

Updated on June 14, 2017
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Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

Essential Poems for Your Students to Study

Good poetry can change lives for the better. It can help with literacy, life and learning. Here are 100 quality poems selected for use in the classroom, for analysis or exams. Subjects range from relationships to animals, from conflict to the environment.

Many of the poems are suitable for children too, over the age of eight years, but the majority are aimed at students aged 11 -17.

I've included more complex poems which can be learnt and enjoyed for their word patterns and meanings. A poem can be a catalyst for discussion and debate and close analysis of a poem is something that can bring huge rewards.You can discover how to make a full analysis of a poem here.

Learning a poem by heart is also a useful skill to master and can stay with your student right itno adulthood.

Here are 100 of the best poems for your students to enjoy.

Age Range

These poems are suitable for children aged from 11 - 17, that is, from junior through to middle and junior high.

1-8 Poems for Younger Children


If I Were in Charge of the World by Judith Viorst is a poem about control, unlike The Aliens Have Landed by Ken Nesbitt which is all about not being in control. Meanwhile Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky speaks for itself whilst Changing Everything by Jane Hirshfield takes things to extremes.

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein is witty and charming but Please Mrs Butler by Allan Ahlberg is mildly alarming. Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley will make you laugh a little unlike The Quarrel by Maxine Kumin which might make you think before you act.

Fun Poems

These three poems will stir your imagination and inspire a sense of joy.

9. I Built a Fabulous Machine by Jack Prelutsky

10. Sick by Shel Silverstein

11. It's Dark In Here by Shel Silverstein


Nonsense and Mystery

Here is a selection of some of the best nonsense you are likely to come across. Plus there is the added mystery of Poe and the unorthodox form of Mr Cummings. And who can resist a giant pizza?

12. On the Ning Nang Nong Spike Milligan

13. Jabberwocky Lewis Carroll

14. There Was An Old Man With A Beard Edward Lear

15. Fable by Joan Aiken

16. anyone lived in a pretty how town e.e.cummings

17. Wynken,Blynken and Nod by Eugene Field

18. Backward Bill by Shel Silverstein

19. A Pizza the Size of the Sun by Jack Prelutsky

20. A Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe

Animals

All the animals you could wish for and more. There is Blake's well known Tyger, with fearful symmetry, and Lawrence's kangeroo, awkward and wondrous. The windhover is a falcon, beautifully and uniquely captured by Hopkins.

21. Macavity the Mystery Cat by T.S.Eliot

22. The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear

23. Something Told the Wild Geese by Rachel Field

24. The Tyger by William Blake

25. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

26. The Eagle by Alfred Lord Tennyson

27. The Duck by Ogden Nash

28. Bee! I'm Expecting You! by Emily Dickinson

29. Eletelephony by Laura Richards

30. The Magpies by Denis Glover

31. The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop

32. That Sure is My Little Dog by Eleanor Lehman

33. Mooses by Ted Hughes

34. The Geese by Jorie Graham

35. The Bat by Theodore Roethke

36. The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

37. Ode to the Hummingbird by Pablo Neruda

38. Kangaroo by D.H.Lawrence

39. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

Poems about Life


40. Invictus by William Ernest Henley

41. Oranges by Gary Soto

42. Not In Vain by Emily Dickinson

43. Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

44. In the Desert by Stephen Crane

Classic Poetry

45. Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

46. Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

47. Sonnet 94 by William Shakespeare

Middle Grade and Higher

48. Mirror by Sylvia Plath

49. I Am Waiting by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

50. Let Evening Come by Jane Kenyon

51. Fundamentalism by Naomi Shihab Nye

52. Snow by David Berman

53. Deer Hit by Jon Loomis

54. Abandoned Farmhouse by Ted Kooser

55. Speak Up by Janet S. Wong

56. Seeing the World by Steven Herrick

57. Junkyards by Julian Lee Rayford

58. At the Bomb Testing Site by William Stafford

Poems to make you Think

59. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

60. To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet

61. If by Rudyard Kipling

62. Dreams by Langston Hughes

63. A Journey by Nikki Giovanni

64. Alone by Maya Angelou

65. With Child by Genevieve Taggard

Conflict and War

66. Grass by Carl Sandburg

67. At the Border 1979 by Choman Hardi

68. Futility by Wilfred Owen

69. Poppies by Jane Weir

70. next to of course god America I by e.e.cummings

71. Belfast Confetti by Ciaron Carson

People


72. When Daddy Fell Into the Pond by Alfred Noyes

73. I'm Nobody! Who Are You? by Emily Dickinson

74. Another Reason Why I don't Keep a Gun in the House by Billy Collins

75. maggy and milly and molly and may by e.e.cummings

76. How I Learned to Sweep by Julia Alvarez

77. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

78. Gathering Leaves by Robert Frost

79. Mine by Lilian Moore

80. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

81. Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

82. We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

83. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

84. O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

85. Mother Doesn't Want a Dog by Judith Viorst

86. This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams

87. Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

88. Saint Animal by Chase Twichell

On Poetry

89. Eating Poetry by Mark Strand

90. Digging by Seamus Heaney

91. Poetry by Don Paterson

92. Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

93. The Uncertainty of the Poet by Wendy Cope

Nature

94. Rainforest by Judith Wright

95. The Trees by Philip Larkin

96. Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

97. Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost

98. Flowers By the Sea by William Carlos Williams

99. The Force that through the Green Fuse by Dylan Thomas

100. Morning Poem by Mary Oliver

© 2015 Andrew Spacey

Comments

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  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 20 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thanks Victoria, appreciate your visit. I hope you can get some useful poems to work with from the links. And best of luck with those 15 year olds!

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 20 months ago from Arkansas, USA

    I recognize many on the list, but not all. I teach 15 year olds for 5 weeks in the summer. Last year I realized some of my poetry selections were "too old" for them. I'll look at some you suggest here. Thanks for the list. And how wonderful for you to provide all the links as well!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 23 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Dianna, thanks so much for the visit. Glad you found some of these poems amongst your favourites.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 23 months ago

    You've listed a few of my favorites here. Good list!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 23 months ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit Chitrangada, much appreciated. Yes, this list took me ages to put together but I really enjoyed the process.

  • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

    Chitrangada Sharan 23 months ago from New Delhi, India

    This is an excellent list of poems for kids!

    I am familiar with many of them and the rest I will check out.

    I remember those days filled with poems when my kids were younger. It must have taken a lot of effort on your part to compile them in one place.

    You did a wonderful job. Thank you for sharing the list!

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit Denise, appreciate it. Yes, this list took me a long time to put together. There are some wonderful poems out there for the lucky children!

  • PAINTDRIPS profile image

    Denise McGill 2 years ago from Fresno CA

    Awesome list. Some I know by heart and some I've never read before. Thanks.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Thank you for the visit and comment Jennifer, much appreciated. This list took me a long time to compile, there are so many great poems out there! A pity I couldn't sneak in Jenny Kiss'd Me!.

  • Kylyssa profile image

    Kylyssa Shay 2 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

    What a great list! Almost every evening when I was little, my mom would pull out a book of poetry and read us a poem. Many poems on your list came up over and over. Of course, being named Jennifer, my favorite was one called "Jenny Kiss’d Me" by Leigh Hunt. I recall them all with great fondness.

  • chef-de-jour profile image
    Author

    Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

    Audrey many thanks for the visit and thoughtful share. Please feel free to add any more suitable titles should you wish to.

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Thank you Andrew for this most helpful list of poetry for kids. I'm going

    to enjoy reading these. I will share your informative hub.