Cover image for The Oxford illustrated book of American children's poems
The Oxford illustrated book of American children's poems
Hall, Donald, 1928-
Publication Information:
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
96 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 27 cm
An anthology of American poems, arranged chronologically, from colonial alphabet rhymes to Native American cradle songs to contemporary poems.
General Note:
Includes indexes.
Reading Level:
NP Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS586.3 .O95 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area

On Order



American children's poetry began with Native American cradle songs, moved on to a rhymed alphabet, blossomed in the 19th century with "A Visit from St. Nicholas," expanded widely in the 20th century, and continues with vigor into the new millennium. Some of the best of these poems, however, have been neglected or forgotten. This collection, edited by acclaimed children's author and poet Donald Hall, returns to us the forgotten treasures of American children's poetry. Featuring some of the best of children's book illustration-including archival selections from rare and early editions and pictures from now defunct 19th- and early-20th-century children's magazines-this anthology revives not only the classic poems but also the atmosphere of the periods in which they were written and read.
Starting with anonymous Native American verses and a selection from the 1727 New England Primer, "Alphabet," this book spans two centuries of American children's poetry. Immediately recognizable names, including Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and T. S. Eliot are joined by talented contemporary poets like Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, Janet S. Wong, and others. Perennial favorites-such as "The Three Little Kittens" and "Casey at the Bat"-are mixed in with new classics, such as Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out." Poems about holidays appear with verses for recitation, nursery rhymes, poems for laughter, bedtime verses, scary poems, and animal poems. In recognition of America's diverse nature, the selections in this anthology reflect a variety of backgrounds and experiences. From anonymous African-American poets we step forward through the ages to admire the talents of Langston Hughes, Sonia Sanchez, and Francisco X. Alarcón. Children will love discovering these gems, and both parents and teachers will delight in reading to children from this book.

Author Notes

Donald Hall is the author of many children's favorites, including The Ox-Cart Man (a Caldecott Medal winner), I Am the Dog, I Am the Cat and Lucy's Summer, and the editor of The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America (OUP, 1985). He has also written a dozen books of poetry, most recently Without. He lives on a farm in New Hampshire.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-9. This anthology begins with Native American cradle songs and such early classics as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and "The Village Blacksmith" before it moves on to enduring favorites by great poets, including Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, and Robert Frost. It ends with poems by some of the best poets writing for children today: X. J. Kennedy, Karla Kuskin, Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Nikki Giovanni, Gary Soto, Pat Mora, Janet Wong, and more. In just a few cases the words are printed over elaborately colored paintings, and the poetry is lost; but, in general, the design is handsome, with thick paper, lots of white space, and archival illustrations that quietly convey a sense of the place and the time when the poem was written. This is a collection for reading aloud across generations, to give children a taste of what happens when, as David McCord says, "Books fall open / You fall in." --Hazel Rochman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-6-According to Hall, "Poetry for our children began with Native American cradle songs, moved on to a rhymed alphabet, bloomed in the 19th century with `A Visit from St. Nicholas,' expanded in the 20th, and continues with vigor into the 21st." In selecting poems from two centuries-and a bit more-the editor revisits his earlier, unadorned collection, The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America (1985). Here, a smaller number of entries are presented in a large format pairing the poetry with an appealing array of black-and-white and full-color fine-art reproductions. Perhaps two thirds of the selections appeared in the earlier volume, and the chronological assembly includes a few newly chosen poems as well as many added poets, including e. e. cummings, Ogden Nash, and Gwendolyn Brooks. The newly added Native American pieces that open this book and the diverse voices of the late 20th century add a welcome dimension. There's a strong strain of humor throughout, but small quiet poems, lullabies, and odes to special moments are abundant, too. And, of course, there are those favorite story poems-John Greenleaf Whittier's "Barbara Frietchie," James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphant Annie," and Ernest Lawrence Thayer's "Casey at the Bat," among others. An inviting treasury for family and classroom sharing and an elegant gift book as well.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.