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Our Favourite Literary Poems

Poems have been used in children's books to make them more memorable and entertaining for a long time. However, they also turn up in all kinds of books, as rhymes or songs, and sometimes the whole story is one long poem. From Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky to Dr Seuss's brilliant children's stories, poems have been appearing in popular books for years and now, in order to celebrate World Poetry Day, we've picked our favourite literary poems...

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The Cat in the Hat

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Dr Seuss

This whole book is one fun, joyous rhyme. The story is silly and strange yet completely brilliant. Sally and her brother are visited by a cat that wears a tall red and white hat and teaches them how to have fun. Although some of his attempts to have fun result in chaos and they do make a mess of the house, everything is righted in the end. What makes it all the more exciting is the inclusion of rhyme. Everyone remembers the silly story of The Cat in the Hat because its poetic style makes it all the more fun. Dr Seuss wrote this story to give young school students in America a more engaging book to read in order to help them learn literacy. This brilliant book has been entertaining children around the world ever since.

Best quote: 'You find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.'

The Oompa-Loompas' Songs

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Roald Dahl

The Oompa-Loompas of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory sing a poem for each of the children that win a golden ticket but don't make it to the end of the tour of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Their hilarious poems explain the flaws of each of the children and why they had to go. In the Mike Teavee song the Oompa-Loompas declare that children should read instead of watch TV, which makes for some interesting lines about the importance of books.

Best quote: 'THEY...USED...TO...READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!' (from Mike Teavee)

The Hanging Tree


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Suzanne Collins

In Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy there is the song The Hanging Tree. Katniss used to sing this old folk song from District 12 with her father before he died and as events of the previous books play on her mind the song comes back to her. This haunting poem sums up the horrors of the dark dystopian world of Panem and the brutal Hunger Games. The song became better known when Jennifer Lawrence covered it for the film adaptation, Mockingjay Part 1.

Best quote: 'Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met at midnight
In the hanging tree.'


Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

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Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll's bizarre children's stories, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, both include a few very odd but very entertaining poems. From poems about the mythical Jabberwocky to the Mad Hatter's strange rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat, there are many unusual poems in these wonderful children's books. Many of the poems are parodies of poems that were popular at the time of Lewis Carroll writing the books which seems to make them even more strange and funny.

Best quote: 'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch' (from Jabberwocky in Through the Looking-Glass)

Happy reading this World Poetry Day!