A NEST of 2020 Middle Grade Poetry

 Poetry is on the rise. 

According to a 2018 article in the Washington Post, "poetry reading by young people has doubled since 2012." 

I suspect those numbers have only increased during the pandemic. 

There's just something about a poem, how it's like a firecracker exploding in your heart... when times are tough, we crave experiences like that. Perhaps we even need them to help us understand and cope with the chaos all around.

With that in mind, I'm happy to share with you four 2020 poetry collections perfect for middle grade.

THIS POEM IS A NEST by Irene Latham, illus. by Johanna Wright. (Boyds Mills and Kane) Publisher's description: This beautiful poetry collection introduces readers to the art of found poetry as the poet writes a 37-line poem, "Nest," then finds 160 smaller poems within it.

This book is my 12th book for kids since my first middle grade novel was published in 2010. I adore this book! Creating it was absolutely exhilarating. Probably my favorite section of the book is the Emotion Poems, but since many who visit this site are writers... here's a page from the "Ars Poetica" section for your enjoyment:

This is the last stop on the NEST blog tour! Be sure to visit these other posts:

CAST AWAY: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye. HarperCollins. Publisher's description:

Acclaimed poet and Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye shines a spotlight on the things we cast away, from plastic water bottles to those less fortunate, in this collection of more than eighty original and never-before-published poems. A deeply moving, sometimes funny, and always provocative poetry collection for all ages.

You can read my review here. And see/hear Naomi Shihab Nye, our current Young People's Poet Laureate, read from the book here.


A HATFUL OF DRAGONS: And More Than 13.8 Billion Other Funny Poems by Vikram Madan. (Boyds Mills and Kane) Publisher's description:

Ideal for fans of Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein, this collection of hilarious poems features delicious vocabulary and a wide range of subjects, as well as recurring characters and subplots in the art that weave the poems together and add to the merriment.

And... Vikram also illustrated the book. So much fun!

DICTIONARY FOR A BETTER WORLD: Poems, Quotes and Anecdotes from A to Z by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. (Lerner) Publisher's description: 

How can we make the world a better place? This inspiring resource for middle-grade readers is organized as a dictionary; each entry presents a word related to creating a better world, such as ally, empathy, or respect. For each word, there is a poem, a quote from an inspiring person, a personal anecdote from the authors, and a "try it" prompt for an activity.

Discussion Guide


  1. Thanks for introducing us to so many wonderful books of poetry. Congratulations on your newest collection Irene.

  2. LOVE what you say about a poem being a firecracker in the heart.


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