2019 Notable Poetry Books - National Council of Teachers of English
Back to Blog

2019 Notable Poetry Books

“Poetry is emotion, passion, love, grief—everything that is human.” —F. Sionil José

Each year, the Excellence in Poetry for Children Award committee selects notable poetry and verse books for children ages 3–13 that “create images, express feelings, and stir emotions.” We know these books will be an excellent way to bring poetry into your classroom or home libraries!


2019 Notable Poetry Books

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Irene Latham and Charles Waters
Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (Carolrhoda Books)
Discomfort precedes understanding. Understanding precedes change.

Crawly School for Bugs: Poems to Drive You Buggy

David L. Harrison
Illustrated by Julie Bayless (WordSong/Highlights)

Welcome to Crawly School for Bugs! Termites, stink bugs, gnats, and every insect in between attend this buzzy school where crickets take classes like “How to Be Annoying in 4 Easy Steps.”

Every Month Is a New Year: Celebrations around the World

Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by Susan L. Roth
(Lee & Low Books Inc.)

During every month of the year, some group of people in some part of the world is celebrating the new year.


A First Book of the Sea

Nicola Davies
Illustrated by Emily Sutton
(Candlewick Press)

Nicola Davies and Emily Sutton capture the magic and majesty of the ocean with stunning words and pictures.

For Every One

Jason Reynolds
(Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum/Simon and Schuster)

For Every One is just that: for every one. For every one person. For every one dream. But especially for every one kid.


H Is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z

Sydell Rosenberg
Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi
(Penny Candy Books)

H Is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z offers an A to Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.

Hidden City: Poems of Urban Wildlife

Sarah Grace Tuttle
Illustrated by Amy Schimler-Safford
(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

In this graceful collection of poems, skyscrapers serve as perches for falcons, streetlights attract an insect buffet for hungry bats, and an overgrown urban lot offers shelter to both flora and fauna.

The Horse’s Haiku

Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by Stan Fellows
(Candlewick Press)

Lovers of horses or haiku or those who simply appreciate the natural world will enjoy this contemplation of one of earth’s most beautiful creatures.

I Am Loved

Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Ashley Bryan
(Caitlyn Dlouhy/Athenem/Simon & Schuster)

This book drums the most important message of all to young, old, parent, child, grandparent, and friend alike: You are loved.

I’ll Root for You

Edward van de Vendel
Translated by David Colmer
Illustrated by Wolf Erlbruch
(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

This delightful poetry collection is the perfect cheerleader for
young athletes . . . especially ones who may not be the most athletic.

In the Past: From Trilobites to Dinosaurs to Mammoths in More Than 500 Million Years

David Elliott
Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
(Candlewick Press)

Return to the prehistoric era and discover a host of creatures both novel and familiar, from the mysterious trilobite to the famed T. rex.


Juan Felipe Herrera
(Candlewick Press)

Jabberwalkers write and speak for themselves and others no matter where their feet may take them—to Jabberwalk is to be a poet on the move.

Martin Rising: Requiem for a King

Andrea Davis Pinkney
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
(Scholastic Press)

In a rich embroidery of visions, musical cadence, and deep emotion, Andrea and Brian Pinkney convey the final months of Martin Luther King’s life—and of his assassination—through metaphor, spirituality, and layers of meaning.


Origami and Haiku: Inspired by Japanese Artwork

The British Museum
(Nosy Crow/Candlewick Press)

For each animal or object, children will be able to read the haiku, enjoy a corresponding work from the British Museum collection, and then make the origami figure!

Our Celebración

Susan Middleton Elya
Illustrated by Ana Aranda
(Lee & Low Books Inc.)

It’s a sunny day and everyone is headed to the main plaza for the start of the town parade and summer celebration. Follow along the parade route with a family of six as the festivities unfold.


Anders Holmer
(Eerdmans Books for Young Readers)

A poetry collection celebrating the wonders of the natural world.

A Round of Robins

Katie Hesterman
Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier
(Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House)

Sixteen fresh and funny poems welcome a new batch of robins to the world!

Seeing Into Tomorrow

Richard Wright
Illustrated by Nina Crews
(Millbrook Press)

Seeing into Tomorrow celebrates the lives of contemporary African American boys.

Sometimes You Fly

Katherine Applegate
Illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

This book reminds the reader that any achievement may be preceded by mistakes, and learning from them makes accomplishments sweeter.

Twilight Chant

Holly Thompson
Illustrated by Jen Betton
(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

A lyrical exploration of the transition between day and night and of the animals who thrive during this special time.

Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

Naomi Shihab Nye
Illustrated by Dawn Henning
(Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins)

Voices in the Air celebrates the inspirational people who strengthen and motivate us to create, to open our hearts, and to live rewarding and graceful lives.

With My Hands: Poems about Making Things

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson
(Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

With My Hands is an inspiring invitation to tap into creativity and enjoy the hands-on energy that comes from making things.

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Published with the Metropolitan Museum of Art
(Abrams Books for Young Readers)

18 poets have written new poems inspired by some of the most popular works in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum.


2019 Notable Verse Novels

Jazz Owls: A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots

Margarita Engle
Art by Rudy Gutierrez
(Atheneum/Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing)

From the Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle comes a searing novel in verse about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.

Knock Out

K. A. Holt
(Chronicle Books)

When Levi’s dad—divorced from his mom—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. But how can he tell his mom about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

Missing Mike

Shari Green
(Pajama Press)

As she reflects on what “home” means to her, Caera knows only one thing. She is not going to lose Mike, her dog. She will do what it takes to find him, even if it means going back to Pine Grove on her own.


Kwame Alexander
Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In this prequel to Newbery Medal–winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshiping, basketball star his sons look up to.

They Call Me Guëro: A Border Kid’s Poems

David Bowles
(Cinco Puntos Press)

Life is tough for a border kid, but Güero has figured out how to cope. He writes poetry.


You can find the full, printable list of the 2019 Notable Poetry Books here.

All book descriptions taken from Goodreads.