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Poetry from Around the World


Poetry is a great way for children to explore language, discover different writing styles and even find their own voice. With their diverse rhythms and rhymes, imagery, narrative and mystery, poems can be enjoyed over and over again.  

"The tradition of poetry has been around since time began – long before writing was invented – and the oral tradition of handing down rhymes and stories continued through the generations.  Today, many people live without poetry and lose out on the chance to experience the vast array of wonderful poets both past and present.  

Poetry is a marvellous way of promoting the use and beauty of language and children need to be able to explore and enjoy poetry in all its different guises". (Universal Verse: Poetry for Children, Barn Owl, 2006) 

In 2006 together with my colleague Edgardo Zaghini we compiled and edited 'Universal Verse: Poetry for Children'.  It highlighted over 200 poetry books from the UK that celebrated and promoted an interest in both contemporary and classic poetry.  

Turning our attention to poetry that has been translated from another language into English is far more of a challenge.  Finding poetry books that have been translated or rewritten into English is much harder and sadly there are too few available.  The complexities of translating verse from its original language are not to be underestimated as it often requires the text to be completely rewritten.  If the original text was written in rhyming couplets or quatrains then the translator and publisher may want to ensure that it rhymes in English whilst still being faithful to the nuances of the original. 

However, despite the limited availability of poetry in translation we have managed to select 36 titles across the different age categories that will hopefully ensure there is something for everyone. 

As well as including some exceptionally stunning picture books translated and rewritten in rhyme we have also included several nonsense verse titles from India, even though they were originally written in English. 

One or two of the titles cross-over into different age groups, particularly the books in the Under 5's and 6-8 age groups.  This is because some of the books in the Under 5's list can also be used in the classroom with older children. 

Whilst trying to ensure there are as many new titles as possible we have also included some that may now be out of print because they are worthy of a mention and most are still available to buy over the internet. 

We will continue to update these lists as we receive new titles but we hope that our diverse selection will give you a flavour of poetry from around the world. 


Deborah Hallford
Outside In World, 2012





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