Poems and Rhymes: Books for Young Children

These collections offer a wide range of poems and rhymes to share with young children at home, at day care, or in preschool. Many of the collections highlight songs and nursery rhymes from Latin America and are availabe in Spanish.

Related resources

For additional ideas and titles, see the following:

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers

Illustrated by: Luke Flowers
Age Level: 3-6

From funny to sweet, silly to sincere, the lyrics of Mister Rogers explore such universal topics as feelings, new siblings, everyday life, imagination, and more. Through these songs—as well as endearing puppets and honest conversations—Mister Rogers instilled in his young viewers the values of kindness, self-awareness, and self-esteem. But most of all, he taught children that they are loved, just as they are. Perfect for bedtime, sing-along, or quiet time alone, this beautiful book of meaningful poetry is for every child—including the child inside of every one of us.

A Stick Is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play

Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham
Age Level: 3-6

Bright illustrations accompany lively poems that celebrate children's imaginations and playing outdoors on warm days. Some games, like 'jacks', may need a bit of explanation but walking on the edges (of sidewalks, curbs, etc.) and hopscotch are perennial favorites. Everyone may be inspired to go outside and play!

Agua, Agüita/Water, Little Water

Illustrated by: Felipe Ugalde Alcántara
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

"My name / is Water / but everyone / calls me Little Water." In this beautiful, poetic ode to the life-giving force of water, award-winning children's book author Jorge Argueta describes in English, Spanish and Nahuat the life cycle of water from the perspective of one drop. With stunningly beautiful illustrations by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara that depict the mountains, rocks, vegetation and animals of the natural world, this poem about the importance of water reflects Argueta's indigenous roots and his appreciation for nature.

Animal Poems of the Iguazú

Inspired by a visit to the Iguazú National Park in South America, Francisco X. Alarcón celebrates its animals, skies, waterfalls, and more in these short and vibrant bilingual poems. Each page holds pulsating paintings that swirl and move, further vivifying each poem.

Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games

Age Level: 0-3
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

A beloved collection of traditional Latino baby games and lullabies from fourteen Spanish-speaking countries, complete with melodies for chanting and singing. Collected by Lulu Delacre, these rhymes and songs are available in English and Spanish.

Arroz con Leche

Age Level: 3-6

These traditional rhymes and songs from Latin America are presented in both English and Spanish. Gentle illustrations accompany the short verses, and show both cities and the countryside. Children and adults from Spanish-speaking backgrounds will recognize many of these fun songs and rhymes.

Cool Melons--Turn to Frogs!

Age Level: 3-6

Born in 1763 on a farm in central Japan, Issa began writing Haiku as a young child. Matthew Gollub has integrated the story of Issa's life and selections of his best-known work.

De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children

Illustrated by: Elisa Kleven
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Bursting with color and spirit, this collection of Latin-American songs is a tribute to Latino culture. From traditional tunes to rhymes and hand games, De Colores has songs for all occasions and moods. Each song is accompanied by simple musical arrangements, with lyrics in both English and Spanish.

I Am America

Age Level: 3-6

Look how different we are and see how much we are the same! Readers will surely see themselves in the pages of this book, which is full of color photographs of children's faces. The rhyming text and images celebrate the tapestry of cultures, religions, and physical appearances of children throughout the United States.

I, Too, Am America

Illustrated by: Bryan Collier
Age Level: 3-6

A celebration of Pullman porters is the focus of this new picture-book edition of Langston Hughes' classic poem. The collage spreads, blending oil paintings and cut paper, begin with an image of a speeding train before moving on to large portraits of African American porters serving white passengers aboard a luxury train. When the passengers leave, the porters gather left-behind items — newspapers, blues and jazz albums — and toss them from the train. Carried by the wind, the words and music fall into the hands of African Americans across the country.

Mamá Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury

Age Level: 0-3
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

This book is a collection of Spanish-language lullabies, finger games, nursery rhymes, jump-rope songs, riddles, birthday songs, and more. It compiles songs from different Spanish-speaking countries. The English translations keep the essence of the native language, and grab the reader using captivating terminology.

My First Book of Proverbs

Age Level: 3-6

"In this collection of Mexican dichos (proverbs), artists Ralfka Gonzalez and Ana Ruiz bring to life their favorite sayings from Mexico and the United States. These dichos celebrate life and culture, reminding young readers that Donde hay gana, hay mana/Where there's a will, there's a way. With vibrant color and folk art flavor, the festive paintings draw readers into a whimsical world where bumblebees play bongo drums and roosters sing all day." — Children's Book Review

My People

Illustrated by: Charles Smith
Age Level: 6-9

Handsome, artistic sepia portraits of young and older African Americans combine with Hughes' short poem. Together image and word presents a memorable celebration of beauty and diversity of a people. Smith includes a note describing how he approached the classic poem.

Once Around the Sun

Illustrated by: LeUyen Pham
Age Level: 3-6

Every month of the year is cause for celebration – from sledding to holidays. Each poem and accompanying illustration (reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats) for each month of the year reflects a child's joy and interests.

One Leaf Rides the Wind

Illustrated by: Susan Kathleen Hartung
Age Level: 6-9

This richly illustrated collection of haiku poems is a counting book as well as an introduction to Japanese gardens and to a poetic form. From one leaf chased by a little girl to 10 stone lanterns, this garden can be enjoyed on several levels.

Pencil Talk and Other School Poems

Illustrated by: Susie Lee Jin
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

A simple school day is a lot more fun when you add a little poetry! Follow along for a fresh look at spelling tests, recess, music class and more, in this spirited collection of school day poems. Spanish version available.

Twist: Yoga Poems

Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis
Age Level: 6-9

Simple, evocative poetry suggest the meanings which inspire various yoga stances, movements, and more. The short poems coupled with handsome illustrations encourage imagination as together they show how a movement or pose can suggest something quite different.

Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua sube

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Here is a poetic ode to the beauty of the natural world as expressed by the movement and moods of water on Earth. With every evocative verse, we visit one of fourteen different water landscapes and cultural areas around the world, each stunningly illustrated with a breathtaking view of a place of natural beauty and conveying a sense of the drama, joy, power, serenity, grandeur, or peacefulness of water.

¡Yum! ¡Mmmm! ¡Qué Rico!

By: Pat Mora
Illustrated by: Rafael López

Celebrate the native foods of the Americas — peanuts, blueberries, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and more — through haiku poetry and stunning artwork from award-winning illustrator Rafael López.