Poetry for Upper Elementary Students

April is National Poetry month, and I know a lot of teachers that read and write poetry during the month of April.  I wanted to highlight a few great places where you can find good poetry for Upper Elementary students.  Yes, my Smarties in the sixth grade, love a little Shel Silverstein, but they are longing to feel a little more grown-up and these poetry resources really help them feel that way.
First of all, have you discovered Readworks.org?  They have an entire list of poems that are sectioned by grade level.  I usually start with a few fifth grade poems.  My students especially love "Casey at the Bat" and it is a great way to start our unit.  I also like this poem in book form.  It is illustrated by Patricia Polacco and contains a side story along with the famous poem by Ernest Thayer.  It is a great way to differentiate and help out your struggling readers with visual pictures. <Book links to Amazon>

Then I work into the sixth grade level which includes "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

Another book that I LOVE to use, and firmly believe should be in every library is Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith.  This is an anthology of poems written from the point of view of a 13 year old African American boy who is struggling with a father who has left his family.  Many of the poems can be connected to various feelings that characters in novels have.. fear, anger, hope, perseverance. etc.  This poetry book is a great way to teach about theme topics.

Have you read The Crossover by Kwame Alexander?

This Newbery winner is written in poetry form and is AMAZING!.. Seriously, go order this book right now!  There are so many uses and avenues for discussion with this book.  I have been using it as my model book for Notice and Note Signpost strategies.  You can read the first in this blogpost series {HERE}.  Even my most reluctant readers have loved this book, and Kwame Alexander has just published a second book called BOOKED which also looks amazing! It came out on April 5th, so you know it was immediately in my cart on Amazon.

One of the things I've loved about Alexander's book, The Crossover is that it is a great model for writing poetry.  In one particular poem titled Filthy McNasty <I mean how can you NOT LOVE that name> he describes one of the main characters, and I am going to use it as a springboard poem for character traits and motivation when we read The Lightning Thief.  There are so many possibilities!

Happy April Poetry Month!  I would love to hear what types of poetry you will be reading with your students this month!  Any books I should add to my collection?

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