The Folio Book of Children’s Poetry

Illustrated by Lesley Barnes

Introduced by Penelope Lively

The Folio Book of Children’s Poetry is an eclectic and thought-provoking collection chosen to amuse, entertain and challenge young readers – from classic Wordsworth to the inimitable Dahl.


The Folio Book of Children’s Poetry

‘It is in poetry that the child discovers the possibilities of language – its range, its flexibility, its infinite variety.’

  1. From Penelope Lively’ introduction

Winner of the 2019 British Book Design and Production Award for Literature

As Penelope Lively says in her insightful introduction: ‘Children savour language – words, new words, unfamiliar words, challenging words’. The 88 poems in this anthology have been carefully selected to introduce younger readers to the infinite possibilities of language through a broad range of themes, all beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Lesley Barnes.

Production Details

Bound in blocked cloth with glow-in-the-dark varnish
Set in Bembo Book with Latin display
192 pages
Colour title-page spread and 54 integrated colour illustrations
Printed endpapers
Blocked slipcase with glow-in-the-dark varnish
10˝ x 7 ½˝


The power of words explored through poetry

The selection includes poetry written specifically for children, by writers including Spike Milligan, Roald Dahl and Russell Hoban, as well as entries chosen to appeal to their naturally enquiring natures. The poems vary dramatically in length, style and subject to engage readers and listeners of all ages and interests – from the epic tales that unfold in Tennyson’s ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and Browning’s ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’, to Edward Lear’s ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and the quirky single-stanza ‘I Saw Esau’: 

I saw Esau sawing wood,
And Esau saw I saw him;
Though Esau saw I saw him saw,
Still Esau went on sawing.

  1. [Anonymous]

Introducing children to wide-ranging topics

The poems cover a broad range of themes – nature, revelation, animals, experiences and morals –  and there is light-hearted humour, rhyming and wordplay aplenty. However, the collection doesn’t shy away from challenging themes: grief is subtly referenced in Mary Coleridge’s ‘Gone’; while John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’ introduces children to war through poignant juxtapositions: ‘The larks, still bravely singing, fly / Scarce heard amid the guns below.’

Alphabetically arranged, the anthology moves fluidly between centuries and styles, from A. E. Housman’s ‘The African Lion’ through to Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Young Lochinvar’. No writer has more than one entry so the collection is wide and varied and offers a wonderful introduction to poetry in a beautiful gifting edition that will be a companion for life.

A treasury for children in a fine edition

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

  1. W. H. Davies, from ‘Leisure’

Our fine edition includes 38 illustrations by Lesley Barnes, an award-winning animator and illustrator whose work appears regularly in children’s magazines Anorak and OKIDO. Motifs and smaller illustrations are woven throughout the poems to visually engage children as they explore the edition, and Barnes has also designed the distinctive animal-themed blocked binding that features glow-in-the-dark varnish. Our collection is introduced by Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Lively who shares her passion for and extensive knowledge of poetry.


The African Lion - A. E. Housman
The Arrow and the Song - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Bed in Summer - Robert Louis Stevenson
A Bird Came Down the Walk - Emily Dickinson
Casey at the Bat - Ernest Thayer
Casabianca - Felicia Hemans
Colour - Christina Rossetti
Ducks’ Ditty - Kenneth Grahame
The Despot - E. Nesbit
The Devil in Texas - Anonymous
Eletelephony - Laura E. Richards
Eldorado - Edgar Allan Poe
Epitaph on a Hare - William Cowper
The Elf and the Dormouse - Oliver Herford
The Fairies - William Allingham
The First Tooth - Charles and Mary Lamb
Gone - Mary Coleridge
The Garden Year - Sara Coleridge
The Hag - Robert Herrick
Horrible Song - Ted Hughes
Habits of the Hippopotamus - Arthur Guiterman
I Saw Esau - Anonymous
I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud - William Wordsworth
I Think I Could Turn and Live with Animals - Walt Whitman
In Flanders Fields - John McCrae
The Ivy Green - Charles Dickens
Jabberwocky - Lewis Carroll
Kubla Khan - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Lady of Shalott - Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Lake Isle of Innisfree - W. B. Yeats
The Law of the Jungle - Rudyard Kipling
Leisure - W. H. Davies
Lines and Squares - A. A. Milne
Little Fish - D. H. Lawrence
Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf - Roald Dahl
London Snow - Robert Bridges
Little Trotty Wagtail - John Clare
maggie and milly and molly and may - E. E. Cummings
Macavity: The Mystery Cat - T. S. Eliot
Matilda - Hilaire Belloc
The Migration of the Grey Squirrels - William Howitt
Monday’s Child - Anonymous
The Mountain and the Squirrel - Ralph Waldo Emerson
New Every Morning - Susan Coolidge
Night Mail - W. H. Auden

A Night with a Wolf - Bayard Taylor 
Nightmare - W. S. Gilbert
On the Ning Nang Nong - Spike Milligan 
Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat - Thomas Gray 
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat - Edward Lear 
The Owl - Edward Thomas 
Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley 
Past, Present, Future - Emily Brontë
Patience - Harry Graham 
Pied Beauty - Gerard Manley Hopkins 
The Pied Piper of Hamelin - Robert Browning 
The Railway Children - Seamus Heaney 
Reindeer Report - U. A. Fanthorpe
The Road Not Taken - Robert Frost 
Round About the Cauldron Go - William Shakespeare 
Sea Fever - John Masefield
Scarborough Fair - Anonymous
A Scherzo - Dora Greenwell
Seven Times One - Jean Ingelow
Sir Smashum Uppe - E. V. Rieu
Solomon Grundy - Anonymous
The Song of the Mischievous Dog - Dylan Thomas
The Spider and the Fly: An Apologue - Mary Howitt
The Story of Fidgety Philip - Heinrich Hoffmann
Summer Goes - Russell Hoban
The Star - Jane Taylor
The Tale of Custard the Dragon - Ogden Nash
Tartary - Walter de la Mare
Timothy Winters - Charles Causley
There Isn’t Time - Eleanor Farjeon 
To a Baked Fish - Carolyn Wells
To a Mouse - Robert Burns
To Autumn - John Keats
To Every Thing a Season - Ecclesiastes
True Love - Sir Philip Sidney
Topsy-Turvy World - William Brighty Rands
The Tyger - William Blake
Weathers - Thomas Hardy
The Wind and the Moon - George MacDonald
The Wraggle Taggle Gipsies - Anonymous 
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod - Eugene Field
Young and Old - Charles Kingsley
Young Lochinvar - Sir Walter Scott

About Penelope Lively

Penelope Lively is the author of many prize-winning novels and short story collections for both adults and children. She has twice been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for her novels The Road to Lichfield (1977) and According to Mark (1984). She later won the 1987 Booker Prize for her highly acclaimed novel Moon Tiger. She was appointed CBE in the 2001 New Year’s Honours List, and DBE in 2012. Penelope Lively lives in London.

About Lesley Barnes

Lesley Barnes is an award-winning illustrator and animator based in Glasgow. Her distinctive work spans the worlds of fashion, music, children’s literature, film and product design. Barnes has created exclusive product ranges for the V&A and Tate museums in London. Other clients include Scottish band Belle & Sebastian, Clinique, Glamour magazine, Sunday Times Style, Random House, Puffin Books, and children’s magazines Anorak and OKIDO. She is the author and illustrator of three children’s books. 


You May Also Like

  1. The Nursery Rhyme Book

    The Nursery Rhyme Book

    Andrew Lang

    Illustrated by Debra McFarlane and L. Leslie Brooke


    A lively collection of nursery rhymes, both familiar and little known, collected by Andrew Lang, the acclaimed folklorist and editor of the Rainbow Fairy Books.

  2. The Velveteen Rabbit

    The Velveteen Rabbit

    Margery Williams

    Illustrated by William Nicholson


    Margery Williams’s affectionate tale of enduring love, The Velveteen Rabbit, has been faithfully reproduced in this beautifully designed new Folio collector’s edition.

  3. The Jungle Book

    The Jungle Book

    Rudyard Kipling

    Illustrated by Edward J. Detmold and Maurice Detmold


    This thrilling adventure about a boy learning to survive in the wild continues to hold the world’s imagination. Enchanting tales and poems on the lives and customs of jungle creatures are brought vividly to life with beautiful illustrations by Maurice and Edward J. Detmold.

  4. Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    Brothers Grimm

    Illustrated by Arthur Rackham


    This Folio edition, a facsimile of the British edition of 1909, contains 60 of The Brothers Grimm’s most famous tales, including ‘Snow White’, ‘Hansel and Gretel’ and ‘Red Riding Hood’.