25 Poems for Children to memorize

Looking for poems for your child to learn for this year's National Poetry Month Memorization Challenge? Start here, or try one of the lists recommended at the bottom of the page.

Nice and Short

Here are a few poems for the child who's feeling intimidated by the challenge. Some of them are only two or three lines long!

"Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to His Royal Highness" by Alexander Pope

I am his Highness' dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

"The Duck" BY OGDEN NASH

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

"FOR WANT OF A NAIL" BY ANONYMOUS

For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost,
For want of a rider the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

"DON'T KILL THAT FLY" BY KOBAYASHI ISSA

Look, don't kill that fly!
It is making a prayer to you
By rubbing its hands and feet.

"WINTER MOON" BY LANGSTON HUGHES

How thin and sharp is the moon tonight!
How thin and sharp and ghostly white
Is the slim curved crook of the moon tonight!

"Weather" by Marchette Chute

It is a windy day.
The water's white with spray.
And pretty soon, if this keeps up,
The world will blow away.

"THE ELEPHANT" BY HILAIRE BELLOC

When people call this beast to mind,
They marvel more and more
At such a little tail behind,
So large a trunk before.

Laughs

Nothing deep. These are just for fun!

Click the title to read the whole poem.

"My Name Is" by Pauline Clarke

My name is Jump-the-chimney
My name is Bite-my-knee

"THE PLATYPUS" BY OLIVER HERFORD

This vacillating thing, you see,
Could not decide which he would be—
Fish, Flesh, or Fowl,—and chose all three.

"The Height of the Ridiculous" by Oliver Wendell Holmes

"These to the printer," I exclaimed,
        And, in my humorous way,
I added, (as a trifling jest,)
        "There'll be the devil to pay."

"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll

One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

Wonders

Poems to make you think, marvel, and see the world a different way.

"THE TYGER" BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

"THE LAMB" BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

"The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free"

"Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now" by A. E. Housman

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

"THE BIRD OF NIGHT" BY RANDALL JARRELL

A shadow is floating through the moonlight.
Its wings don't make a sound.
Its claws are long, its beak is bright.
Its eyes try all the corners of the night.

"Spring and Fall" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.

"Who Has Seen the Wind?" by Christina G. Rosetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Stories

These poems are a bit longer, but all very fun to recite and to listen to.

"Pirate Story" By Robert Louis Stevenson

"THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE" BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON

"KING JOHN'S CHRISTMAS" BY A. A. MILNE

"The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear

"The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service

"THE FIDDLER OF DOONEY" BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

"The Pied Piper of Hamelin" by Robert Browning

Other Places to Look

The Institute for Excellence in Writing has a well-tried list of poems for children to memorize.

Many of the above poems were selected from the following collections:

  • Knock at a Star, edited by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy
  • Sing a Song of Popcorn, edited by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, Eva Moore, Mary Michaels White, and Jan Carr
  • 100 Great Poems for Boys, edited by Leslie Pockell
  • 100 Great Poems for Girls, edited by Celia Johnson
  • Committed to Memory, edited by John Hollander