In searching for poetry to share with my children I look for things that are beautiful and appealing, along with true and worthy. I want to choose poems that are suitable to their ages and interests.
Children are never too young for poetry. Even toddlers can enjoy picture poem books for the very young. Our youngest, who is now six, has always enjoyed poetry and though he is very active. He loved to have me read him a book of children's poetry from quite young. He would sometimes choose a book of poetry over a storybook. One of the books from our library that he has enjoyed is Poems to Read to the Very Young, selected by Josette Frank and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. If you aren't familiar with Eloise Wilkins, the following are two illustrations by her:
Another book with wonderful children's poetry is A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. You will find many different versions of this. One we have really enjoyed with beautiful paintings of children is called Leaves From a Child's Garden of Verses Illustrated by Donna Green. This book is not comprehensive but the paintings are lovely.
There are so many wonderful copies of this book I hesitate to lead you toward any one in particular, but if you like Thomas Kinkaid paintings, there is a nice hardcover copy of A Child's Garden of Verses with illustrations by him. It includes scripture and prayers.
Another poetry book we have almost worn out through the years is A Golden Treasury of Nursery Verse compiled by Mark Daniel. It has nice old paintings sprinkled throughout.
A wonderful anthology of children's poetry that we got on Karen Andreola's recommendation is Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris. This is a hefty, almost 600 page book has poems arranged by topic which makes it nice when you want to select a poem to go with something you are studying or for nature study.
A poetry book my children and I have found very helpful for finding worthy poetry to memorize is Poems for Memorization published by Rod and Staff. This is a paperback and has poems listed by grade level appropriate for memorization.
For your older child or perhaps for yourself, The One Year Book of Poetry has 365 devotional readings based on classic Christian verse. Each day includes poetry and a devotional on that poem. These are challenging reading and deep thinking poems.
My all time favorite is Mountain Breezes a collection of Amy Carmichael's poetry. She is my favorite poet and this is a comprehensive collection of her poems. They are grouped into sections and it includes a section with poems for children. Along with her deep spiritual insights, she loved nature and was very gifted with analogies so she puts beautiful words and comparative descriptions to spiritual ideas. This book includes a section for youth that children will enjoy including animal poems.
I read a poem aloud daily for several weeks to help the children begin to memorize it. As I memorize poetry along with the children I find myself quoting it to the little ones at appropriate moments, like, "Who has seen the wind, neither I nor you...." by Christina Rosetti or "How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue?" by Robert Louis Stevenson while I push them on the swing. I also use poems for copywork and to go along with our nature studies. The Handbook of Nature Study has some poems sprinkled throughout that go with particular nature topics and can be copied into nature notebooks. Favorite Poems Old and New is also a wonderful source for particular poems and has its poems listed in categories so it's easy to find poems to go with a particular study.
Children may like to write their own poetry. Like drawing, or riding a bike for that matter, their first attempts may not be impressive, but I like to encourage my children by finding something to praise or comment positively on. As they continue, I gently give suggestions and teach meter and rhyme. One of our daughters who struggled with meter with her first attempts at writing poetry now, as an adult, writes beautiful poetry. I've found it helpful when beginning to write poetry to choose a familiar poem or hymn and use that meter to write my own words. Of course not all poetry has meter or rhyme, but I like to encourage my children to at least learn to write this way as it takes discipline and thought and of course the finished product is appealing. Our minds are drawn to the repetitions of sound and cadence.
With a little effort, our children will be storing away beauty in their hearts and minds for the days and years to come.