6 Classic Children’s Poems
Everyone Should Read
Reading poetry offers a multitude of benefits. It offers unique perspectives that can broaden your worldview and some even stretch your mind to its limits as you work to decipher what the author is really trying to communicate. These reasons are why many English classes in school often include poetry in the curriculum.
Children’s poems may be targeted specifically for a younger audience. But many share valuable insight that people of all ages can benefit from. Here we put together a shortlist of classic children’s poems that we think everyone should read.
1. “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” – Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is perhaps Edward Lear’s most famous poem which was published in 1871. The nonsense poem (a type of literature that uses nonsensical words) was written for a three-year-old girl who was the daughter of Lear’s friend. This poem tells a simple love story between an owl and a cat, and their marriage to each other. Although more than 100 years old, the poem remains beloved to this day and was actually voted the most popular childhood poem in Britain in 2014.
2. “Jabberwocky” – Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll was the pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who was an English writer most notably known for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The poem Jabberwocky first appeared in its sequel Through the Looking-Glass in which the character Alice finds a poem that can only be read by holding it up to a mirror. She finds that she’s unable to decipher what it means. The poem offers one of the best examples of nonsense poetry and has given us words like “galumphing” and “chortle”.
3. “From a Railway Carriage” – Robert Louis Stevenson
From a Railway Carriage was written by Robert Louis Stevenson and was published as part of his 1885 volume A Child’s Garden of Verses. The poem offers a great example of versification which uses rhythmic patterns to describe a train journey and the view from the window. The poem is told from the author’s perspective so we see that the scenery is constantly shifting.
4. “Matilda” – Hilaire Belloc
Matilda was written by Hilaire Belloc and is a classic child’s poem that tells a cautionary tale of the devastating consequences of telling lies. The main subject, Matilda, has a fondness for telling lies which her aunt has tried unsuccessfully since her youth to change. Her constant telling of lies led to her burning to death along with the house she was in. Despite the dark subject, the poem has a light and humorous tone and teaches a valuable lesson that’s applicable today.
5. “Macavity, the Mystery Cat” – T. S. Eliot,
Macavity, the mystery cat was written by author T.S. Eliot and tells a short story about Macavity, a master criminal that leaves behind no evidence of his crimes. Macavity is described as a tall and thin ginger cat with deeply sunken eyes. Macavity is a master criminal who constantly evades authorities and covers his tracks with incredible skill. The main character is loosely based on Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes stories.
6. “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” – Maya Angelou
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou is a simple, repetitive poem. There is no rhyme scheme in the poem but there are lines that rhyme. As you can likely already determined from the title, the poem shares a powerful story about overcoming fear and the importance of self-belief. The poem is written from a child’s perspective so we get more insight on how she describes and overcomes her fear.
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