Poetry Anthologies & Verse Novels for Readers Aged 2-12

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Encouraging young people to read widely and enjoy a balanced literary diet is something that can add immeasurably to their reading and writing journey. For many of us, poetry and verse novels are often not the first thing that comes to mind when we are pondering reading choices for our children. I admit that, for many years, poetry felt ‘beyond me’; that I was somehow not intelligent enough to comprehend and enjoy poetry. This is all changed for me with verse novels and I am now a voracious reader of both verse novels and poetry anthologies. Verse novels feel somehow so much more accessible and an ‘easy entry’ into the world of poetry – they are essentially free verse poems which, when sequentially set, form a narrative structure. They are exquisite. The verse novelist removes all extraneous words, leaving only the most perfect of words to express the pure heart and soul of the story. Read more about verse novels them here and here.

As parents, we all sing nursery rhymes to our children and funny little chants and rhymes have been enjoyed for generations; these are all forms of poetry. As our children grow and the poetry becomes more complex, we seem to freak out and abandon all poetry until the senior years of high school when it is studied in detail and we sob into the textbooks alongside our children. The more sensible thing to do (look at me offering sensible advice!) is to add some of the books below to our bookshelves, read them with our children and to our children and deeply appreciate the skill – or simply just enjoy them!

I love what Natalie Jane Prior says in my book ‘Raising Readers’ about poetry: 

“Nothing enriches a child’s understanding of how language works more than poetry. Reading it teaches children to think outside the square, to see things from unexpected angles. In our modern world, this skill is becoming essential. Don’t think of poetry as an optional extra: think of it as an weapon in your children’s arsenal for life.”

Natalie Jane Prior in ‘Raising Readers’, Chapter 8.



‘It’s the Sound of the Thing’ by Maxine Beneba Clarke (Hardie Grant, 2023)

‘Guinea Pig Town and Other Animal Poems’ by Lorraine Marwood (Walker Books Australia, 2013)

‘A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems’ by Lorraine Marwood (Walker Books Australia, 2010)

‘Note on the Door and Other Poems About Family Life’ by Lorraine Marwood (Walker Books Australia, 2011)

‘Love Poems and Leg Spinners’ by Steven Herrick (University Queensland Press, 2001)

‘A Boat of Stars’ edited by Margaret Connelly and Natalie Jane Prior (ABC Books, 2018)

‘A Paddock of Poems’ by Max Fatchen (Penguin Books Australia, 1987)

‘100 Australian Poems for Children’ edited by Clare Scott Mitchell and Kathlyn Griffith (Random House Australia, 2002) *currently out of print. Check your library!

‘Mongerel Doggerel’ by Elizabeth Honey (Allen & Unwin, 1998)

‘Can You Keep a Secret?’ edited by Mark Carthew (Random House Australia, 2008)

‘Untangling Spaghetti’ by Steven Herrick (University of Queensland Press, 2009)

‘Limelight’ by Soli Raphael 


‘Sunshine on Vinegar Street’ by Karen Comer (Allen and Unwin, 2023)

‘Mina and the Whole Wide World‘ by Sherryl Clark. Illustrated by Briony Stewart (University of Queensland Press, 2021)

’29 Things You Didn’t Know About Me’ by Solli Raphael. Illustrated by Olana Janfa (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2022)

‘What Snail Knows’ by Kathryn Apel (University of Queensland Press, 2022)

‘Bully on the Bus’ by Kathryn Apel (University of Queensland Press, 2014)

‘Too Many Friends’ by Kathryn Apel (University of Queensland Press, 2017)

‘On Track’ by Kathryn Apel (University of Queensland Press, 2015)

‘The Spangled Drongo’ by Stephen Herrick (University of Queensland Press, 1999)

‘Pookie Aleera Is Not My Boyfriend’ by Stephen Herrick (University of Queensland Press, 2012)

‘Tom Jones Saves the World’ by Stephen Herrick (University of Queensland Press, 2002)

‘Pearl Verses the World’ by Sally Murphy (Walker Books Australia, 2009)

‘Roses Are Blue’ by Sally Murphy (Walker Books Australia, 2014)

‘Toppling’ by Sally Murphy (Walker Books Australia, 2010)

‘Sixth Grade Style Queen (Not!)’ by Sherryl Clark (Penguin Books Australia, 2007)

‘Sister Heart’ by Sally Morgan (Fremantle Press, 2015)

‘This is Home: Essential Australian Poems for Children’ selected by Jackie French (National Library of Australia, 2019)

‘The Little Wave’ by Pip Harry (University of Queensland Press, 2019)

‘100 Ways to Fly’ by Michelle Taylor (University of Queensland Press, 2019)

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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  1. Margot Lindgren on Aug 8, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks for highlighting the joy of reading Verse Novels. I always marvel at their emotional power. A couple of others to add to your list might be May B by Caroline Starr Rose for ages 11+, The Weight of Water for ages 13+, Little Dog lost by Marion Dane Bauer Ages 8+ and the two classic books by Sharon Creech Love that Dog; Hate that Cat.

    • Megan Daley on Aug 12, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Oh I don’t know those ones, except the Sharon Creech ones (which I really should have had there in the first place!)

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