April is National Poetry Month in the U.S., so I’m excited to recommend some amazing poetry books for girls! Whether you love novels-in-verse, ancient epic poetry, or biographies of poets, this column has something for you.
Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance
Nikki Grimes turns her pen to poems celebrating the often forgotten women poets of the Harlem Renaissance, a movement that began in the 1920s and made Harlem, New York, a center of Black culture.Nikki Grimes revisits the original poet’s work with each poem and pairs it with an illustration by an African-American artist.
This novel-in-verse takes readers to a Wabanaki Indian reservation, where Malian is staying with her grandparents when the COVID-19 pandemic hits. Travel shuts down, and she doesn’t know when she’ll return to her home in Boston. She must trade playing outside with her friends to helping her grandparents learn how to videochat and listening to their stories of plagues from the past. But the Wabanaki community has taken care of each other before, and they’ll look out for each other through this new challenge, too.
You Don’t Have to Be Everything: Poems for Girls Becoming Themselves
In gathering the 68 poems for girls in this anthology, editor Diana Whitney said, “I wanted to collect the voices I wish I’d heard when I was a teen.” Interspersed with stunning artwork, the poems explore themes of loneliness, rage, attitude, belonging, and more. Some of the poems address tough topics like harassment and sexuality that you might want to discuss with an adult before or after reading.
Malcolm and Me
Writing poetry, preparing for an upcoming essay contest, and reading the Autobiography of Malcolm X all help Roberta cope with the difficulties in her life, from her parents’ troubled marriage to a racist comment from one of her teachers. But when her teacher tells her she’s not eligible to enter the essay contest, she learns some truths about her family she’s not ready for. Author Robin Farmer says she was inspired to write this book by similarities between the Watergate scandal and more recent presidential scandals, as well as the echoes of the Black Power movement in Black Lives Matter protests.
Warriors, Witches, Women: Mythology’s Fiercest Females
Poetry is one of the oldest forms of written storytelling, and strong women go WAY back. Find your favorite goddesses, warriors, and wise women from ancient epic poems like The Iliad, The Ramayana or Le Morte d’Arthur in this beautifully illustrated collection. And after you’ve found a few of your faves, make sure to explore some you haven’t heard of before, too!
What about you? What are your favorite books featuring poetry or poets? Have you read any of the books featured above? Leave a comment below!