Poetry is a beautiful and expressive form of literature that can resonate deeply with teenagers.
It allows them to explore their emotions, thoughts, and experiences in a unique and creative way. Whether you’re a teen looking to dive into the world of poetry or a parent or teacher searching for the perfect poetry books for a young reader, this list of the best poetry books for teens has got you covered.
These collections offer a diverse range of themes, styles, and voices that can captivate and inspire young minds.
Best Poetry Books For Teens
“The Sun and Her Flowers” by Rupi Kaur
This book is a vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing, ancestry and honoring one’s roots, expatriation, and rising up to find a home within yourself. Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the collection is a vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing.
“Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur
In her first book of poetry, Rupi Kaur takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them. It is a collection of poetry about survival, the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.
“Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein
This classic collection of children’s poems and drawings is filled with Shel Silverstein’s unique brand of humor and insight. Covering a broad range of imaginative and quirky topics, the book is a delightful read for children and adults alike.
“A Light in the Attic” by Shel Silverstein
Another collection by the beloved Shel Silverstein, this book is full of more whimsical, imaginative, and funny poems. It includes classics that have tickled the funny bones of children for decades, encouraging them to dream and wonder.
“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo
A novel-in-verse, this book tells the story of Xiomara Batista, a young girl in Harlem who discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. It is a powerful narrative about finding your voice and the power of words.
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
This memoir in verse tells the story of Woodson’s childhood, growing up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. It touches on themes of identity, belonging, and finding one’s place in the world.
“Clap When You Land” by Elizabeth Acevedo
A novel told in verse, this story explores the lives of two sisters who learn of each other’s existence only after their father’s tragic death. It delves into the complexities of family secrets, love, and the ties that bind us.
“Shout” by Laurie Halse Anderson
A poetic memoir and a call to action, this powerful book by Anderson is a reflection of her own experiences with sexual assault and a manifesto about the imperative to speak up against injustice and shatter the silence.
“The Princess Saves Herself in This One” by Amanda Lovelace
A poetry collection divided into four parts, it tells the story of a princess turned damsel turned queen. The poems cover themes of love, loss, grief, resilience, empowerment, and inspiration, crafted in a raw and accessible style.
“The Rose That Grew from Concrete” by Tupac Shakur
This collection of poetry reveals the artistic, reflective, and thoughtful side of the famous rapper Tupac Shakur. Written in his teenage years, these poems confront topics like love, pain, injustice, and his hopes for a better world.
“Brave New Voices: The YOUTH SPEAKS Guide to Teaching Spoken Word Poetry”
This guidebook is an invaluable resource for educators and aspiring poets. It provides insights, exercises, and advice for teaching and appreciating spoken word poetry, encouraging young people to express themselves and engage with important social issues.
“Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets” by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth
This collection celebrates the works of famous poets through original poems written in their honor. The authors pay homage to their influences and explore themes that inspired these literary legends, offering a modern perspective on their timeless works.
“Love Her Wild” by Atticus
“Love Her Wild” is a collection of poetic writings that capture the wild and raw spirit of life’s adventurous journey. Authored by the popular Instagram poet Atticus, this book combines new and beloved poems that explore love, freedom, and the magic in the mundane. It’s a testament to youthful experiences and the wild heart that resides in all of us.
“I Would Leave Me If I Could” by Halsey
This collection by the acclaimed singer-songwriter Halsey offers a deeply personal glimpse into her life and experiences. The poems are reflective and introspective, delving into themes such as love, fame, mental illness, and identity. It’s a raw and unfiltered journey through the chaos and beauty of a young artist’s life.
“Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You” by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the hit musical “Hamilton,” offers a book of brief, daily affirmations. These snippets, originally shared on his Twitter, provide a dose of positivity, encouragement, and motivation. It’s a collection that aims to uplift and inspire readers every morning and night.
“One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance” by Nikki Grimes
Nikki Grimes pays tribute to the Harlem Renaissance in this unique collection. She combines the work of key poets from the Harlem Renaissance era with her own poetic contributions. The book serves as a bridge connecting the voices of the Harlem Renaissance with contemporary African American experiences.
“Swimming Lessons” by Lili Reinhart
Actress Lili Reinhart shares her collection of personal, poignant, and powerful poems. The book dives into themes of young love, anxiety, depression, fame, and heartbreak. It’s a reflection of Reinhart’s own journey and struggles, offering an intimate glimpse into her inner world.
“Blue Horses” by Mary Oliver
In “Blue Horses,” Mary Oliver explores the beauty and mysteries of nature and animals through her poetry. Known for her clear and heartfelt style, Oliver’s poems reflect a deep connection with the natural world, offering readers a tranquil and thoughtful escape.
“Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver”
This collection represents the best of Mary Oliver’s prolific career. “Devotions” features poems hand-selected by Oliver herself, spanning over five decades of her work. The book showcases her lyrical observations of the natural world and her deeply personal reflections on life and mortality.
“The Black Flamingo” by Dean Atta
“The Black Flamingo” is a bold and lyrical novel in verse by Dean Atta. It tells the story of a mixed-race gay teen as he comes of age and discovers his identity and belonging. The book is a powerful narrative about embracing one’s uniqueness and finding the courage to be oneself.
“American Born Chinese” by Gene Luen Yang
This groundbreaking graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang blends poetry and narrative to tell the story of a young Chinese American boy grappling with his identity. The book combines humor and emotion to address issues of race, culture, and self-acceptance, making it a relatable and insightful read.
“The Chaos of Longing” by K.Y. Robinson
K.Y. Robinson’s “The Chaos of Longing” is a raw and honest exploration of love, loss, and longing. The poems delve into the complexities of personal desire, emotional pain, and the journey to healing. It’s a candid and passionate debut from a powerful new voice in poetry.
“Pillow Thoughts” by Courtney Peppernell
In “Pillow Thoughts,” Courtney Peppernell presents a collection of inspirational and comforting poems. These pieces touch on themes of love, heartbreak, and healing, serving as a soothing companion for anyone navigating the ups and downs of life and relationships.
“Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul” by Nikita Gill
Nikita Gill offers a feminist reimagining of classic fairy tales in “Fierce Fairytales.” This collection of poems and stories rewrites traditional narratives to empower and inspire, blending myth and legend with contemporary themes. It’s a powerful and imaginative reclamation of fairy tales for the modern reader.
“Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” by Alicia Cook
Alicia Cook offers a unique blend of poetry and music in “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately.” This collection is presented in the format of an old mixtape, divided into two sides. Side A features original poetry, while Side B contains blackout poetry that offers a different perspective. The book is a journey through the complexities of love, loss, and the healing power of words.
“No Matter the Wreckage” by Sarah Kay
In “No Matter the Wreckage,” Sarah Kay, a renowned spoken word poet, brings together a collection of her favorite works. These poems explore a wide range of themes including family, love, and the observations of a young woman navigating through the world. Her work is known for its eloquent simplicity and warmth.
“Bright Dead Things” by Ada Limón
Ada Limón’s “Bright Dead Things” is a fearless exploration of the chaos and beauty of life. The poems discuss personal transformation, connection with nature, and the discovery of boldness in living. It’s a collection that examines the complicated journey through life’s tumultuous landscapes.
“The Truth About Magic” by Atticus
“The Truth About Magic” is another insightful collection from the popular Instagram poet Atticus. In this book, he delves into the themes of love, life, and the magic that exists in our everyday lives. His short, poignant poems capture the essence of moments and feelings in a deeply resonant way.
“Inward” by Yung Pueblo
Yung Pueblo’s “Inward” focuses on the journey of personal transformation. This collection is a meditation on the path to self-healing, self-love, and the wisdom that comes with inner growth. The poems are concise yet profound, offering insights into mindfulness and the journey towards emotional freedom.
“The Strength In Our Scars” by Bianca Sparacino
Bianca Sparacino’s “The Strength In Our Scars” deals with the themes of healing and resilience. The book is a reminder of the strength that lies within us, especially during hard times. Through her powerful prose and poetry, Sparacino provides comfort and encouragement to anyone facing personal struggles.
“Every Watering Word” by Tanya Manning-Yarde
In “Every Watering Word,” Tanya Manning-Yarde explores themes of race, motherhood, and identity. This collection weaves through the complexities of being a woman, particularly a woman of color, in today’s world. Her poetry combines the personal with the political, providing a poignant reflection on contemporary society.
“Wild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire, and Beauty” by Nikita Gill
Nikita Gill’s “Wild Embers” is a collection that celebrates the fire and rebellion within every woman. These poems and stories cover themes of overcoming adversity, rising from the ashes, and embracing one’s true power. Gill reimagines traditional tales and legends through a feminist lens, offering empowering messages.
“Bone” by Yrsa Daley-Ward
Yrsa Daley-Ward’s “Bone” is a raw and powerful exploration of the heart. This deeply personal collection covers themes such as love, loss, race, sexuality, and understanding one’s self. Daley-Ward’s style is stark and honest, delivering a profound emotional impact.
“Helium” by Rudy Francisco
“Helium” by Rudy Francisco is an exploration of identity, race, and the human experience. His poetry is known for its clarity, rhythm, and the ability to convey complex emotions and ideas in a relatable way. Francisco’s work touches on social issues, personal narratives, and the beauty of simply being alive.
“Autopsy” by Donte Collins
Donte Collins’s debut collection “Autopsy” is a personal and political exploration of life. The book delves into themes of race, sexuality, and family, weaving a narrative that confronts societal norms and personal trauma. Collins’s voice is fresh and compelling, offering a new perspective on contemporary poetry.
“Electric Arches” by Eve Ewing
Eve Ewing’s “Electric Arches” is an imaginative blend of narrative, poetry, and visual art. This collection explores themes of black womanhood, urban life, and the power of history and memory. Ewing’s work is known for its vivid imagery and creative structure, offering a unique and powerful perspective on life and art.
“Life of the Party” by Olivia Gatwood
“Life of the Party” is a raw and unflinching collection of poems by Olivia Gatwood that delves into the intricacies of womanhood and the experience of living in a female body. The book is a striking exploration of the fears, joys, and traumas associated with womanhood, drawing from Gatwood’s own life and the broader societal context.
“If They Come For Us” by Fatimah Asghar
Fatimah Asghar’s “If They Come For Us” is a poignant collection of poems that explore themes of cultural identity, violence, and belonging. These poems delve into Asghar’s experiences as a Pakistani Muslim woman growing up in America, offering a powerful voice on matters of race, sexuality, and family.
“Beowulf” (Seamus Heaney’s translation)
Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf” brings the classic Old English epic poem to life for modern audiences. This version maintains the narrative force and rhythm of the original while making it accessible and engaging. It tells the story of the heroic Beowulf and his battles against monsters and dragons.
“Night Sky with Exit Wounds” by Ocean Vuong
“Night Sky with Exit Wounds” is a haunting and beautiful collection of poetry by Ocean Vuong. The book explores themes of war, immigration, sexuality, and love, drawing heavily from Vuong’s own experiences as a Vietnamese American and his family’s history during the Vietnam War.
“Citizen: An American Lyric” by Claudia Rankine
Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen: An American Lyric” is a powerful and thought-provoking meditation on race in contemporary America. Through poetry, prose, and visual imagery, Rankine explores the everyday experiences of racism and the ongoing realities of being black in the United States.
“The Princess Diarist” by Carrie Fisher
In “The Princess Diarist,” Carrie Fisher shares her diary entries and poetry written during the filming of the original “Star Wars” movie. This collection offers a humorous, poignant, and intimate glimpse into the mind and experiences of the late actress, revealing her insights, romances, and struggles.
“The Odyssey” (Emily Wilson’s translation)
Emily Wilson’s translation of “The Odyssey” is a fresh, modern take on Homer’s classic epic. This version is notable for being the first English translation by a woman. Wilson brings a new perspective to the ancient story, making it more accessible and engaging for contemporary readers.
“Ordinary Beast” by Nicole Sealey
Nicole Sealey’s “Ordinary Beast” is a thought-provoking collection of poems that weave together humor, emotional depth, and beauty. The book explores various themes, including race, relationships, mortality, and the nature of life itself, showcasing Sealey’s talent for both observation and lyrical precision.
“Don’t Call Us Dead” by Danez Smith
In “Don’t Call Us Dead,” Danez Smith offers a powerful collection of poems about race, queerness, and living with HIV. These poems confront the realities of being black and gay in America, addressing themes of police brutality, mortality, and the body as a site of desire and trauma.
“Wade in the Water” by Tracy K. Smith
“Wade in the Water” by Tracy K. Smith is a poetry collection that intertwines history, current events, and personal narrative. Smith’s poems deal with issues such as the legacy of slavery, environmentalism, and American history, offering a profound and lyrical examination of the nation’s past and present.
“Bright Wings: An Illustrated Anthology of Poems About Birds” edited by Billy Collins
Edited by Billy Collins, “Bright Wings” is an illustrated anthology that celebrates the beauty and mystery of birds through poetry. This collection features a wide range of poets, each offering their unique perspective on these fascinating creatures, accompanied by stunning artwork.
“The Dark Between Stars” by Atticus
“The Dark Between Stars” is a collection of poems by Atticus, the mysterious Instagram sensation. The book explores themes of love, loss, and self-discovery, capturing the moments between darkness and light in life. His short, poignant verses resonate deeply with a modern audience seeking meaning and connection.