Lots of teens are convinced that poetry is boring. But this list of 10 exceptional poetry books for high schoolers is sure to convince them otherwise!
One of the main reasons why teens turn up their noses at poetry is because it feels irrelevant to them. It often appears outdated, stuffy, confusing, and out of touch.
They feel like it’s a waste of time.
And when I look at what has traditionally been required reading in high schools, it’s not hard to see why they would feel this way!
But there are so many incredible poets out there!
I want to share some excellent poetry resources for high schoolers with you.
Are you ready!?!
Here are 10 exceptional poetry books for high schoolers!
by Elise Paschen
This collection contains 100 unique poems about a wide variety of topics and human emotions.
There are poems to satisfy any taste, including works from Langston Hughes, Dana Gioia, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lucille Clifton. A CD with recordings of 44 poems is also included, 39 of which are original recordings.
This is an excellent introduction to many influential poets.
by Paul B. Janeczo
This volume includes the works of 32 world-renowned poets. They offer inspiration and guidance for new poets and those interested in learning how to write poetry.
Advice is given that ranges from practical, to silly, to unexpected.
An excellent resource for inspiring and teaching about poetry.
by Maya Angelou
Ah yes, the woman herself.
When I was in my 20s, my boyfriend at the time, surprised me by taking me to see Maya Angelou speak.
She blew my mind.
Her presence, graciousness, wisdom, and encouragement were captivating. Listening to her recite her poetry was a dream come true.
This collection of her poetry reflects and honors her tremendous life as a poet, teacher, and activist. Powerful, poignant, hopeful, determined… During her life, Maya Angelou covered the depth of all human emotions through her incredible body of work.
This book is a treasure.
Oh, and as for that boyfriend of mine? We’ve now been married for over 17 years. I knew he was a keeper!
by Naomi Shihab Nye
This collection is a tribute to all of the people who have inspired Naomi Shihab Nye throughout her life.
An important reminder to be grateful for the wisdom we gain from teachers, writers, artists, friends, family… those that support, challenge, encourage, and sustain us.
Full of inspiration and hope, the overriding message in these poems is one of empathy and gratitude.
by Jalal al-Din Rumi and translators Coleman Barks and John Moyne
Rumi is one of my favorite mystical and spiritual poets of all time.
The 13th-century Sufi mystic, Rumi, created beautiful poetry that has truly stood the test of time. His words and imagery continue to be just as powerful today as they’ve ever been.
This collection includes an introduction by the translator, Coleman Barks, who has done an outstanding job translating Rumi’s work so that people worldwide can benefit from its beauty.
by Mary Oliver
Another one of my favorite poets, the late Mary Oliver, was truly a master of capturing the magnificence and holiness of the natural world.
Through her poetry, her reverence, humility, and passion shine through in beautiful, yet tangible ways.
This book features a variety of her poetry from 1963 to 2015.
A beautiful collection.
by Sarah Kay and Sophia Janowitz
I was introduced to Sarah Kay through her popular 2011 TED Talk, where she recited her poem, “B”.
I was so impressed!
She was poised, creative, intentional, and captivating. And she was so young!
In this debut collection, she writes about her family, love, travel, and many other life experiences and relationships.
Sarah Kay is the co-founder of Project V.O.I.C.E. an organization that “uses spoken word poetry to entertain, educate, and inspire.”
This is a great book choice to become familiar with Sarah Kay’s poetry, as well as a solid introduction to the power of spoken word poetry.
by Margarita Engle
During this time in Cuba, opposing slavery was extremely dangerous. But through her own writing, she worked for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.
Margarita Engle is able to capture powerful historical events in tangible and meaningful ways.
by Juan Felipe Herrera
Written in both Spanish and English, Herrera expresses the complications of living in two cultures. Confusion, a struggle to belong, joy, and laughter, his poetry is rich and vibrant.
This is a warm and beautiful book and I love that it’s bilingual.
by Shel Silverstein
Are you at all surprised that Shel Silverstein has ended up on a list of poetry recommendations for high schoolers!?!
I mean, isn’t he the guy who wrote “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Sidewalk Ends”!?!
Yep, same guy and same GENIUS poetry!
I simply can’t imagine a list of poetry for any age NOT including one of his books!
Just like all of his other fantastic books, this one is full of silly, absurd, imaginative, heart-warming, and even profound poems.
Combined with his amazing artwork, this collection of poems never disappoints!
I hope you check out some of these titles. They truly are incredibly rich works of art.
And make sure to check out these additional posts about poetry:
I’d love to know if you have any recommendations! So please leave a comment and let me know what you suggest.