Eight Podcasts About Poetry

Featuring poets from Amanda Gorman to Kenn Nesbitt and offering inspiring writing prompts, these shows have something for every student.

Kidcasts poetry edition graphicNational Poetry Month inspires us to delve into poetry with our students; to read, write, and listen. The creativity and intimacy of audio can connect kids with poets, past and present, from across the globe. This playlist includes shows that use a range of audio methods to appeal to children’s ears, including a delightful Scottish host reading a musical poem; a how-to for writing haiku; an immersive biography of poet Dorothea MacKellar; an interview with poet and verse writer Elizabeth Acevedo; and a meditative show featuring the work of poet Amanda Gorman.

And, if you still want Shel Silverstein, then there’s that too.

Journey with Story, “Celebrate Music with this Fun Poem - Storytelling Podcast for Kids - The Ceremonial Band”
Ages 3-6–“The old King of Dorchester, he had a little orchestra...‘Tootle-too,’ said the flute,‘Deed-a-reedle,’ said the fiddle.” Children will delight in the onomatopoeia and repetition of James Reeves poem, read by Kathleen Pelley, who hosts this long-running, weekly podcast. Her Scottish accent will transport kids through time and place, as will her wonderful selections of poetry, fairy tales, and folktales. Her website has episodes categorized by Poems, Classic Tales, Original Stories, Fairytales and Folktales, and by ages.

Love Learning, Bite-sized Lessons: How to Write a Haiku Poem
Ages 7-10–Love Learning was developed by teachers for teachers, and this episode on haikus is fantastic for implementing simple poetry in the classroom. It can be difficult to explain this Japanese poetic form to students, particularly young ones, but this short episode is easy to follow. Find more curriculum-based content from the creators of this podcast at Teach Starter and discover more lessons specifically on Language Arts.

Poetry for Kids, The Story of Laurie
Ages 7-11–When you hear the word laureate, what other words come to mind? Kenn Nesbitt, Children’s Poet Laureate from 2013 to 2015, answers this question in his own distinctive, hilarious, poetic way, while also explaining how poet laureates work to spread the joy of poetry. With poetry and figurative language lessons, Nesbitt’s episodes help kids build skills to write verse of their own, while promoting a diverse range of other children’s poets. He hosts multiple websites that include poetic tools, like rhyming dictionaries, and a great collection of lessons and activities for the library or classroom.

Buttons & Figs, “Poem Explosion” with Author Kyle Lukoff
Ages 7 to 11–Button & Figs, a wordplay podcast for kids, examines the mechanics of poetry. Here, poet and author Kyle Lukoff discusses his book Explosion at the Poetry Factory and how it explores the taxonomy of poetry with kid-friendly language. Host Pamela Rogers and kids offer a prompt to write, “good bad poem.” With zany sound effects, this episode will be delight teachers and help other kids grasp the joyful, creative side of verse. Buttons & Figs’s other poetry episodes include Nonsense Play by Calef Brown, Extra-Woke- Poems About Justice with Mahogany Browne, Jabber-Walking with Poet Juan Felipe Herrera, Poetry Prompt Play.

Fierce Girls, Dorethea Mackellar - The Girl who Wrote Poems and Broke All the Rules
Ages 8-12–Fierce Girls is a biography podcast featuring courageous women from Australia. Similar in concept to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls this show shines with scripts and narration by kids. In this short episode, nine-year-old Amalia Mackellar shares the story of poet Dorothea Mackellar, and how this bold, independent-minded woman used secret codes and words to express herself, becoming a beloved poet not only in Australia but around the world.

But Why Live, Poetry
Ages 8-12–In partnership with the Vermont Agency for Education, But Why created a special episode during the pandemic; kids called in with poetry questions, poems, and more. This stirring episode includes original recorded poetry from kids on a wide range of topics, including feelings related to the coronavirus. Poetry teacher Ted Scheu tackles questions about the poetic writing process, such as “What is a poem?” and “How do you know if you are writing a poem?” This episode also features spoken word poet, author, and teacher Rajnii Eddins, who joined the African-American Writers Alliance at age 11. Find accompanying poems, lessons, and more here.

Book Club for Kids, Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ages 12 Up–Elizabeth Acevedo’s Poet X is a moving work, relatable to middle school and high school audiences. Middle school students from Charles Hart Middle School in Washington, DC, share what they identified with from this novel in verse; voice actress Monica Vigil from the Fina Mendoza Mysteries podcast reads an excerpt. Acevedo describes her inspiration for the novel, which comes from her experience as a teacher. Other poetry-focused “Book Club for Kids” episodes spotlight Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes and The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.

The Slowdown, At the Age of 18 - Ode to Girls of Color by Amanda Gorman
Ages 14 Up–The Slowdown brings listeners five minutes of poetry every weekday, read by poet and host Tracy K. Smith. In this episode, Smith reads Amanda Gorman’s powerful coming-of-age poem, “At the Age of 18.” Before reading, Smith shared how poetry allows us to celebrate the beauty and worth of all people; and the ways that young poets are appealing to the conscience of our nation, waking us up with poems about restorative justice, equity, and hope. Smith’s meditative commentary and readings allow listeners to clearly hear each word, giving us time to think, imagine, and feel. The show for grownups, but also includes a 13-poem playlist for young ears, created last National Poetry Month.

More ways to write, connect, and learn

Be sure to connect young activist voices with local poetry programs or slams, such as Urban Word NYC, so they can find community and “sing a New America into being,” in the words of Amanda Gorman. If you’re an educator needing inspiration or are unsure how to approach the topic, these grownup podcasts will remind you of poetry’s power: NPR’s Life Kit; Here’s How to Get Into Poetry; LOC’s From the Catbird Seat; The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day; Poetry Foundation’s VS and Poetry Off the Shelf; On Being’s, Poetry Unbound; or The New Yorker’s Poetry.

Consultant Anne Bensfield teaches librarians how to be the gatekeepers and mentors for managing new media in their schools and communities. Pamela Rogers is a children’s librarian and the creator of “Buttons & Figs.”

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