Best Poetry 2022 | SLJ Best Books

These six selections can boast powerful verse, calls for action, and moving imagery—and poems about animals that sip, slurp, and suck, too.




Acevedo, Elizabeth. Inheritance: A Visual Poem. illus. by Andrea Pippins. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. ISBN 9780062931948.
Gr 7 Up–This bold spoken word journey through the history of Black oppression, as seen from the proverbial salon chair, is a powerful proclamation of resistance and resilience over cultural forces. A standout for its appeal to the young adult audience and the fusion of fury and realization it portrays.

Bruchac, Joseph. Voices of the People. illus. by various. Reycraft. ISBN 9781478875161.
Gr 7 Up–This collection of biographical poems explores the history of Native Americans from pre-colonization to modern times. Each poem is paired with a piece of art from a Native American artist. The visually stunning artwork combined with character sketches adeptly reveal the depth of Native American history.

Kooser, Ted & Connie Wanek. Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play Among Figures of Speech. illus. by Richard Jones. Candlewick. ISBN 9781536203035.
Gr 4 Up–Ordinary moments sparkle with imagery, beauty, and wit in this illustrated collaboration between former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser and noted poet Connie Wanek. Each of the 27 verses has a full spread with fanciful illustrations matching the capricious tone of the work. It introduces poetry and literary devices enjoyably for all ages.



Martin, Erica. And We Rise: The Civil Rights Movement in Poems. Viking. ISBN 9780593352526.
Gr 7 Up–Short poems use negative space and concrete poetry elements to tell the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The impact of the poems in this powerful, necessary book is strengthened by the layout of the text and drives home the struggle for equality.

Ogle, Rex. Abuela, Don’t Forget Me. Norton. ISBN 9781324019954.
Gr 9 Up–Ogle’s free verse memoir, a series of vignettes, reflects on parental abuse, poverty, bullying, bigotry, coming out, trauma, and the vital impact one person can have on a life. The magnitude of intergenerational relationships, deep connections, and acceptance shine in Ogle’s foreword and poems, which are clearly love letters to his abuela.

Yolen, Jane & Heidi E.Y. Stemple. Yuck, You Suck!: Poems About Animals That Sip, Slurp, Suck. illus. by Eugenia Nobati. Lerner/Millbrook. ISBN 9781728415666.
Gr 2-6–Exuberant, busy, and brightly colored full-page illustrations show a variety of creatures who “sip, slurp, suck,” with poems printed directly, but unobtrusively, on the illustrations in a fun font. Most of the poems are bouncy rhymes, and endnotes explain why animals suck. A delightful book that amuses and educates.

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