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 National Poetry Day, we've picked our favourite literary poems...

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The Cat in the Hat

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.'

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The Oompa-Loompas' Songs

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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)

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The Hanging Tree


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.'

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Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

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)

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Happy reading this National Poetry Day!

    • £7.89
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    This is the final book in the ground-breaking "Hunger Games" trilogy. Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what' worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss' family, not her friends, not the people of District 12.
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    5 years +
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    Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat in response to a plea to make first reading books for young children more entertaining and appealing to read. The madcap illustrations and wild exuberance of The Cat in the Hat verses certainly fit the brief, and this picture book version of the rhyming classic introduces the craziness to an even younger audience from 3+. If your youngster loves Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, then they will relish the silly madness of The Cat in the Hat.
  • AWZ2 9 years +
    9 years +
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    A beautiful Oxford Classics edition of Lewis Carroll's inspired fantasy Alice in Wonderland. This surreal story has truly enduring appeal and is a must-read book for all readers aged 9 and above.

    On an ordinary summer's afternoon, Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world, she meets some even stranger characters including a grinning cat, a rabbit with a pocket watch and a queen who plays croquet using hedgehogs and flamingos!

    Packed full of nonsense poems and songs, quirky characters and bizarre goings-on, Alice in Wonderland is a timeless classic!

    Please note this edition does not contain any illustrations.
  • CRX2 7 years +
    7 years +
    • £3.99
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    With its refreshed look to celebrate the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, this special edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is perfect for introducing children to the wonderful and weird world of Roald Dahl.

    With Quentin Blake's illustrations, this is the story of a boy from a poor family who wins a golden ticket to visit the elusive Willy Wonka's secretive chocolate factory.

    When Charlie Bucket arrives at the tour - hosted by none other than Willy Wonka, the owner of the factory - he finds himself surrounded by nasty, spoilt brats. There's the greedy Augustus Gloop; arrogant Veruca Salt; repulsive Violet Beaurgarde; and TV-obsessed Mike Teavee.

    But when the tour starts, what mysterious secrets will the group discover? Everything from oompa-loompas to a glass elevator await... this is a classic children's story from the world's No. 1 storyteller.
  • Alice in Wonderland 150th Anniversary Set - 2 Books - Collection - 9781509801060 - Lewis Carroll
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    7 years +
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    • Just £5.00 per book
    An incredibly gorgeous slipcase and two classic books in keepsake hardback make this special 150th anniversary box set of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There a fine addition to any bookshelf. The famous stories come complete with Sir John Tenniel's famous and iconic original illustrations, meaning they'll be returned to time and time again.

    From the Cheshire-Cat to the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter to Jabberwocky, every character Alice meets on her adventures is timeless and they all combined to make such a beloved book series that still has a huge influence today. With a foreword from His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman, these editions really are very special.

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