Top 5 Recommended Poems for Students

Why Introduce Poetry to Students?

Poetry is an art form that has been around for thousands of years, and it continues to be an important part of our cultural heritage. But why is it important to teach poetry in the classroom?

Not only does poetry offer an opportunity for students to explore language, rhythm, and imagery, but it also helps them to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. By analyzing and interpreting poetry, students learn to pay attention to language, form, and structure, as well as to think deeply about the themes and ideas conveyed in the text.

Moreover, teaching poetry can also help to foster creativity, empathy, and emotional intelligence. Poetry can be a powerful tool for self-expression, and it can help students to develop a greater understanding of themselves and others. Additionally, it provides a platform for students to experiment with language and explore their own unique voices.

ThinkFives polls hundreds of teachers each year.  Here are the most recognizable poems they recommend for students to explore.

“Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

A lyric poem that celebrates the beauty and power of nature, particularly the song of a nightingale that inspires the speaker’s imagination and longing for transcendence.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,

Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:

‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,

But being too happy in thine happiness, ….

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

A nonsense poem that invents a series of fantastical creatures and uses playful language and wordplay to create a sense of whimsy and fun.

"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!’

“Invictus” by William Ernest Henley

A poem that celebrates the human spirit and resilience, using powerful language and imagery to inspire courage and determination in the face of adversity.

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

“How Do I Love Thee?” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A sonnet that expresses the depths of romantic love, using vivid and passionate language to describe the speaker’s feelings for their beloved.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

A haunting and atmospheric narrative poem about a man haunted by a mysterious raven that repeatedly utters the word “Nevermore.”

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—

While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—

Only this and nothing more.”

Bonus List – 1900 and After 

“The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein

This story in verse tells the tale of a tree that gives selflessly to a boy over the course of his lifetime.

Once there was a tree,

And she loved a little boy.

And every day the boy would come,

And he would gather leaves and play

And he would climb up her trunk

And swing from her branches…

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

A classic poem that explores the theme of choice and decision-making, and encourages readers to take the path less traveled by.

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing ther

Had worn them really about the same…

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

A powerful poem that celebrates resilience and strength in the face of adversity, and encourages readers to rise above their challenges and keep moving forward.

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room…

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein

This whimsical poem invites readers to imagine a world where anything is possible and encourages creativity and imagination.

There is a place where the sidewalk ends

And before the street begins,

And there the grass grows soft and white,

And there the sun burns crimson bright,

And there the moon-bird rests from his flight

To cool in the peppermint wind…

“If” by Rudyard Kipling

A timeless poem that offers valuable life lessons about perseverance, integrity, and courage, and encourages readers to strive to be their best selves.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

What is your favorite poem to recommend to students?

1 comment

  1. I was never a huge fan of poetry, but I loved studying Keats in college. And anything by Shel Silverstein is a treasure! I also once knew someone who had memorized “If” as a child and he recited it for our grad school class!!! ✍️

What do you THINK?

%d bloggers like this: