Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Five Picture Book Poetry Collections That Feature Diversity

There are so many wonderful diverse picture book poetry collections that it was hard to pick five to feature in this post. We'll do at least one more in celebration of April being National Poetry Month here in the U.S., but for now, here are a few that stood out to us for their inclusion of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity:

Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku
by Paul B. Janeczko and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

This collection is a great choice for fans of humorous poets like Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. Wing Nuts: Screwy Haiku features 23 senryƫ poems which are each three lines of laughs. Senryƫ is Japanese poetry form similar to haiku but tends to focus on the human experiences as opposed to nature, and are more humorous rather than their serious. This one is ideal for children who are old enough to appreciate puns as many of the poems require an understanding of word play. Tusa's illustrations are just as funny as the poetry and feature a wonderful array of racial diversity.

This Is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness
written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

This poetry collection is written in the voice of a class of sixth graders whom all write poems of apology (some sorry, some not) to various people and then receive poems in response (some forgiving, some not). It's a very unique, creative, and interesting idea for a collection of poems and I, at least, think it works. It's also an examination of a subject that is not often discussed in Western culture--the importance of apology and forgiveness.  Besides being a great conversation-starter about these themes, this book also features a variety of poetic forms that can be studied or simply enjoyed. Includes a table of contents.

Once Around the Sun
written by Bobbi Katz, illustrated LeUyen Pham

Once Around the Sun is a collection of poems that celebrates the seasons with one poem for every month of the year. Beautifully illustrated (the perspective is particularly note-worthy in this book) as always by LeUyen Pham, this collection is one that has appeal for a large age range of readers (I'd say 4 and up). Here is part of the poem for this month:

April is
when the earth
parades in a green so brand-new
you can almost hear it playing a tune...
and the walk to Grandma's house
is a skip-splash-dance!
when you get there
tells you how each spring
she falls in love with the world
all over again--
and you understand.

Tan to Tamarind: Poems About the Color Brown
written by Malathi Michelle Iyengar, illustrated by Jamel Akib

As the subtitle states, this is a lovely collection of poems about the color brown. The illustrations feature children from a wide array of cultural settings. Each poem is titled for a particular color brown (sepia, topaz, bay, cocoa, etc.) and often ties in the narrator's skin color with the featured brown. Iyengar's poems are creative and beautiful, as are Akib's illustrations. A note from Iyengar shares that growing up in North Carolina she was mocked for her brown skin, but eventually grew to love it. What a wonderful thing that she has now written a book to encourage children to appreciate, see the beauty in, and celebrate the color of brown.

Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, illustrated by Polly Dunbar

This collection is, obviously, aimed at the younger set.The poems focus on one of four themes: me, my house, outside, and bedtime. The poems range from sweet and funny to those that touch on more serious subjects but manage to avoid being heavy-handed. Many are just begging to be sung ("Bananas and cream,/Bananas and cream:/All we could say was/Bananas and cream") which is sure to make read alouds a treat. Includes a table of contents and an index.

Do you have any favorite collections of poetry that feature diversity? We'd love to hear about them in the comments!


  1. ooh, we are always on the lookout for good poetry books for kids.. thanks much for sharing!

    1. Our pleasure, Reshama! We hope you enjoy them.

  2. Wow, that is an awesome list. We are no where near poetry yet but my husbands whole family loves a good pun so I imagine my little girl will have the same genes. Thanks for linking it in to the Kid Lit blog Hop. Cheers Julie Grasso

    1. _Wing Nuts_ will be right up your alley then, Julie! You might consider trying _Here's a Little Poem_ in the meanwhile!

  3. Oh, I don't think I've run across any of these before. Once Around the Sun has caught my eye! Thanks for sharing in the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

    1. We tried to include a few more obscure collections for this list and _Once Around the Sun_ is a lovely book. We hope you enjoy it!

  4. Your books looks interesting to me and i will read when i get free. khwab nama

    1. So glad to hear they appeal to you! Hope you enjoy reading them :)