December 31



This day, this season,

captured in snapshots, glimpses —

savor each moment.

firefly july

Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems

selected by Paul B. Janeczko

illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Candlewick Press

author’s website:

This is a collection of poems to relish. Each of the thirty-six “very short” poems has been thoughtfully chosen to tell the story of the seasons, and visually enhanced with richly detailed illustrations by Melissa Sweet.


hi, koo!

Hi, Koo!

by Jon J. Muth

Scholastic Press

author’s website:

Jon Muth’s panda character, Koo, takes us through the seasons (and the alphabet) with twenty-six haiku. Muth’s haiku do not adhere to the 5-7-5 pattern of syllables. He writes in the introduction, “For me, haiku is like an instant captured in words — using sensory images.”


santa clauses

Santa Clauses: Short Poems from the North Pole

by Bob Raczka

illustrated by Chuck Groenink

Carolrhoda Books

author’s website:

Santa writes a haiku a day for the entire month of December, giving readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of everyday life at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus. Santa’s December does not feel rushed and frantic; he takes time to look at the stars and notice a white fox at the salt lick.


The natural world —

glorious diversity

captured on pages.


on th wing

On the Wing

by David Elliott

illustrated by Becca Stadtlander

Candlewick Press

author’s website:

David Elliott packs his short poems with plenty of wordplay and surprises. This collection features both well-known birds from backyard feeders and exotic birds from far away places.




by Tony Johnston

illustrated by Wendell Minor

Roaring Brook Press

Sequoia tells the story of his long life and his important place in the forest ecosystem. Informational back matter includes concerns about environmental changes that are endangering these amazing giants.


Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole

by Irene Latham

illustrated by Anna Wadham

Millbrook Press

author’s website:

From first light to star light, these poems take the reader through a day at an African water hole. Latham uses a variety of forms, and includes an information text box about each animal (and one tree).

water can be

Water Can Be…

by Laura Purdie Salas

illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Millbrook Press

author’s website:

Simply written with perfect word choice, these rhymes elaborate on all water can be. Scientific information about each page in the book is included in the back matter.


Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

by Joyce Sidman

illustrated by Rick Allen

HMH Books for Young Readers

author’s website:

How do animals survive when fall turns to winter, when winter’s cold deepens, and then when winter begins to give way to spring? Sidman’s poetry and Allen’s illustrations (plus the informational text boxes on each page and the glossary at the end of the book) give readers the answer to this question.


How to navigate

the turbulence of growing up —

walk another’s path.

the crossover

The Crossover

by Kwame Alexander

Harcourt Brace and Company


12 year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan have basketball in their blood. Josh tells his family’s story in this novel in verse and rap for middle-grade readers.


poisoned apples

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty

by Christine Heppermann

Greenwillow Books

author’s website:

Fairy tales are woven with the modern reality of growing up female. These poems are dark and sometimes disturbing, but always filled with truth.


how I discovered poetry

How I Discovered Poetry

by Marilyn Nelson

illustrated by Hadley Hooper


author’s website:

In a sequence of fifty unrhymed sonnets, Marilyn Nelson’s memoir gives us a “portrait of the artist as a young American Negro Girl.” From age four to fourteen, we watch her grow into the realization that she will be a poet.


History can hurt —

open your heart to the pain

and learn from the past.



by Skila Brown


author’s website:


It’s 1981 and there’s a civil war going on in Guatemala. In this coming-of-age verse novel, Carlos must find his own way when the Communists come to his village.


harlem hellfighters

Harlem Hellfighters

by J. Patrick Lewis

illustrated by Gary Kelley

Creative Editions

author’s website:


This gorgeously illustrated book of poetry for older readers teaches about 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I. This group of 2,000 black American soldiers became famous not just for their tenacity on the battlefield, but for the music they brought with them and which helped them to survive.



The Red Pencil

by Andrea Davis Pinkney

illustrated by Shane Evans

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

A heart-wrenching novel in verse about a Sudanese girl who loses nearly everything when her village is attacked. After a harrowing trek to a refugee camp, she is restored by the power of a red pencil.


Mary Lee Hahn is a 5th grade teacher in Dublin, Ohio. Her poetry has been published online at and in the K-5, 6-8 and Science editions of The PoetryFriday Anthology. She blogs with Franki Sibberson at A Year of Reading and can be found on Twitter @MaryLeeHahn