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The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury Teacher’s Guide


The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury by

The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury Teacher’s Guide


Category: Children’s Picture Books






The 2Oth Century Children’s Poetry Treasury, selected by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Meilo So, is a compendium of over 200 of the best poems of this century. This activity sampler is designed to introduce teachers to the Treasury and includes a sampling of classroom activities with curriculum links.

Visit us online at for a complete guide to the Poetry Treasury and its companion book, The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury, selected by Janet Schulman. Both are published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury contain 211 poems from these 137 poets, arranged by theme.
Arnold Adoff
Conrad Aiken
Dorothy Aldis
Frank Asch
Brod Bagert
Harry Behn
Rowena Bastin Bennett
George Reiter Brill
Gwendolyn Brooks
Walter R. Brooks
Sylvia Cassedy
Nancy Chambers
Deborah Chandra
John Ciardi
Pauline Clarke
Lucille Clifton
Elizabeth Coatsworth
Mary Ann Coleman
E.E. Cummings
Roald Dahl
Walter cle ]a Mare
Mary Grace Dembeck
Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Mary Morris Duane
Ivy 0. Eastwick
Richard Edwards
Barbara Juster Esbensen
Norma Farber
Eleanor Farjeon
M0,x Fatchen
Rachel Field
Aileen Fisher
Michael Flanders
Ralph Fletcher
Douglas Florian
Victoria Forrester
Siv Cedering Fox
Kathleen Fraser
Frances Frost
Robert Frost
Chief Dan George
Kristine O’Connell George
Charles Ghigna
Nikki Giovanni
Mary McB. Green
Nikki Grimes
Grace Taber Hallock
David L. Harrison
Georgia Heard
Florence Parry Heide
Margaret Hillert
Russell Hoban
Mary Ann Hoberman
Felice Holman
Dakari Hru
Patricia Hubbell
Langston Hughes
Ted Hughes
Lucia M. Hymes and James L. Hymes, Jr.
Dahlov Ipcar
Leland B. Jacobs
Randall Jarrell
Elizabeth Jennings
Emilie Fendall Johnson
Tony Johnston
Bobbi Katz
Gail Kredenser
Maxine Kumin
Karla Kuskin
Bruce Lansky
Dennis Lee
Constance Levy
J. Patrick Lewis
Sandra Olson Liatsos
Dee Lillegard
Vachel Lindsay
Jean Little
Myra Cohn Livingston
Arnold Lobel
David McCord
Eve Merriam
Richard Michelson
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Mary Britton Miller
A. A. Milne
Lilian Moore
Pat Mora
Lillian Morrison
Jeff Moss
Ogden Nash
Judith Nicholls
Grace Nichols
Leslie Norris
Mary O’Neill
J. Paget- Fredericks
Donna Lugg Pape
Josephine Preston Peabody
Lydia Pender
Jack Prelutsky
James Reeves
Laura E. Richards
Marci Ridlon
E. V. Rieu
Denise Rodgers
Theodore Roethke
Betty Sage
Carl Sandburg
Alice Schertle
Dr. Seuss
Monica Shannon
Shel Silverstein
Marilyn Singer
William Jay Smith
Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Gary Soto
Eileen Spinelli
eye Starbird
‘Anna Bird Stewart
Joyce Carol Thomas
Judith Thurman
Ruth Tiller
James S. Tippett
Ann Turner
George Ulrich
John Updike
Judith Viorst
Carole Boston Weatherford
Colin West
Richard Wilbur
William Wise
Janet S. Wong
Valerie Worth
Jane Yolen
Charlotte Zolotow


A Word from Jack Prelutsky

This treasury has been culled almost entirely from my private collection of children’s poetry books. I read thousands of poems to select slightly over two hundred that I felt represented the scope and variety of children’s verse produced in the twentieth century, and had no trouble including at least one poem from every decade. Children’s literature in general has blossomed in our time, and poetry in particular has entered a "golden age."

Until this century, most children’s poetry was either syrupy sweet or overblown and didactic, and tended to talk down to its readers. Contemporary children’s poets have thrown all that condescension and moralizing out the window, and write with today’s real child in ruind. They write about sports, sibling rivalry, outer space, monsters, food fights, school, and just plain silliness. Of course today’s poets still address the ageless themes of children’s poetry-imagination, nature and the seasons, who am I?, wordplay, and the many moods of human beings. My final selections represent all of these and many more.

I truly believe that most of the best poetry for children has been written during my own creative lifetime. With this in mind, the collection is weighted with the poetry of my contemporaries.

Children’s poets today are producing some wonderful work, and it’s apparent to me that the torch is being passed to very capable hands. The renaissance continues into the twenty-first century, and I am delighted.
-Jack Prelutsky (excerpted from the introduction to The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury)


In the Classroom

It’s never too early to expose students to poetry. Not only is poetry a valuable tool for teaching students how to read, but also poems make students feel, transport them to another place, and expose them to rich language. As one first grader said, "A story just talks, but a poem sings." The 2Oth Century Children’s Poetry Treasury contains 211 poems by 137 poets, arranged by theme. It is perfectly suited for introducing young readers to quality poetry.

Children naturally like poetry. Poems have a predictable rhythm and are often realitybased. They have everyday meaning, making it easy for students to identify with.



Getting started…
To increase students’ interest in poetry, make your classroom poetry-friendly. Hang poster boards with poems written on them all over your classroom: from the ceiling, on the bulletin board, off the side of your desk, etc.

Read -Aloud
For primary grades, help students learn to read by reading poetry out loud to them. Make a large chart with the text of a poem written on it in oversize letters. Point to the words as you read, showing left to right movement and one-to-one correspondence between the words and the poem as a whole.

For second grade and up, have students write their own poems, as writing poetry is a useful way of studying it. And since reading and writing go hand in hand, students’ writing reinforces reading.

In The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, Peter experiences the wonders of snow. The fluffy white carpet makes a nice memory, even if it melts away. Create 3-D winter scenes (use cotton for snow) and display them on your bulletin board.

Freight Train, by Donald Crews, depicts the wonders of a colorful train in motion. Create a class train. Appoint a child to be the engine, and then "attach" other children. Add sound and movement. Explain that you have created cooperation in motion.

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