37 Great 6th Grade Poems To Share With Your Students

Middle school students may find poetry intimidating, inaccessible, and even dull. But we believe that teachers can change that! A simple yet beautiful poem can resonate with sixth-grade students.

Now that they’re old enough to analyze poems, the right one will strike an exciting debate in the classroom. So, tag along to get a list of some excellent poetry picks for the sixth-grade curriculum.

1. Nothing Gold Can Stay

A classic pick for your middle schoolers is “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost.

This is a short piece full of powerful imagery and symbolism.

They may not understand it at first, but some discussion will unlock the poem’s hidden meanings.

tree in nature

https://poets.org/poem/nothing-gold-can-stay

2. Oh Captain! My Captain

Walt Whitman’s “Oh Captain! My Captain!” is a straightforward poem with a logical sequence.

Tell your students that Whitman wrote the poem about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Are they still uninterested? Play the “Dead Poets Society” scenes featuring the poem!

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45474/o-captain-my-captain

3. I Hear America Singing

We’re following up with another Walt Whitman poem.

Your kids can examine the image of Industries of California from the Works Progress Administration mural.

https://poets.org/poem/i-hear-america-singing

4. The Inchcape Rock

“The Inchcape Rock” by Robert Southey is a long piece, so you can teach it over more than one lesson.

Discuss its sense of poetic justice, and get your middle schoolers to fill in the gaps of the story.

https://allpoetry.com/Inchcape-Rock

5. The Road Not Taken

“The Road Not Taken” is one of the most famous and straightforward poems by Robert Frost.

You can discuss its literal meaning and figurative language with your students. What could it mean?

two roads diverged in the woods

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken

6. There Are Birds Here

Jamaal May’s “There Are Birds Here” is such a thought-provoking poem.

You’ll love the discussion it initiates about misconceptions and their repercussions.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/56764/there-are-birds-here

7. Still I Rise

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou is the poetic motivational speech your sixth graders need.

Her powerful verse depicts how she faces oppression, racism, and sexism with resilience and grace.

https://poets.org/poem/still-i-rise

8. We Wear The Mask

A powerful poem to teach your sixth graders is “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

It’ll start a needed discussion about the experience of being black in the late 19th century.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44203/we-wear-the-mask

9. Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House

Do you want a light, imaginative poem?

Despite its title, “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House” by Billy Collins is about dogs rather than guns.

Your middle schoolers will relate to its description of the daily frustrations.

gun and house figure

https://allpoetry.com/Another-Reason-Why-I-Don’ t-Keep-A-Gun-In-The-House

10. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas wrote “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” about his dying father.

Invite your students to detect the light and dark imagery used to discuss death.

https://poets.org/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night

11. Oranges

“Oranges” by Gary Soto is a narrative poem that takes us back to the poet’s first date.

The relatable topic and engaging imagery will surely grip your tweens.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse?contentId=35513

12. So You Want To Be A Writer

If you’re looking for poetry that highlights the writing process, check out “So You Want to Be a Writer” by Charles Bukowski.

Ask your students if they agree that poetry has to “come bursting out” of them.

https://poets.org/poem/so-you-want-be-writer

13. We Real Cool

Do you want funny poems for 6th graders? Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” might be it.

Also, the seemingly simple poem packs some messages and internal rhyme!
high school graduate students

https://poets.org/poem/we-real-cool

14. Keep A-Pluggin’ Away

Another poem for sixth graders is “Keep A-plugin’ Away” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Teachers can use this poem to discuss literary elements and devices, such as repetition and epiphora.

https://poets.org/poem/keep-pluggin-away

15. My Friend

“My Friend” is a simple poem by Ella Wheeler, excellent for a 6th-grade poetry lesson.

Get your middle schoolers to discuss the personification of pain, and ask them how it can lead our poet to divine joys.

https://allpoetry.com/poem/8500131-My-Friend-by-Ella-Wheeler-Wilcox

16. The Sandpiper

One of the most renowned poets, Elizabeth Bishop, gifted us with this deceptive poem.

On the surface, “The Sandpiper” follows a sandpiper as it searches for an object on the shore. But can your students guess what the search is actually for?

https://allpoetry.com/Sandpiper

17. Where We Two Parted

“When We Two Parted” by George Gordon Byron is a breakup poem, and we have a feeling its broodiness will appeal to your students.

You can ask them to dissect the cyclical poetic structures that communicate Byron’s grief.

sad couple parting ways

https://poets.org/poem/when-we-two-parted

18. Contentment

Edward Dyer must’ve been in high spirits when he wrote “Contentment” because how uplifting is this poem!

“Contentment” is how you instill values into your young and impressionable minds.

https://discoverpoetry.com/poems/edward-dyer/contentment/

19. Mother To Son

“Mother to Son” is a timeless poem that resonates with readers today.

You can start a conversation about the political scene that inspired Langston Hughes to write his poem.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47559/mother-to-son

20. Lend A Hand

“Lend a Hand” is an easy and accessible poem about compassion, empathy, and reaching out to those in need.

So, its anonymous writer indeed has many lessons to teach your student.

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/lend-a-hand-5/

21. My Excuse

One of our favorite poems for sixth graders is “My Excuse” by Kenn Nesbitt.

This poem is so fun, making light of students’ excuses for missing tests or not doing their homework.
vintage pirate ship to go anchor

https://poetry4kids.com/poems/my-excuse/

22. Fernando The Fearless

Another fun poem we have for you is “Fernando the Fearless” by Kenn Nesbitt.

Fernando’s story will grab your students’ attention. Who said learning about alliteration is boring?!

https://poetry4kids.com/poems/fernando-the-fearless/

23. I, Too

“I, Too” is another powerful and relevant poem by Langston Hughes.

In it, he speaks up against racism and fights for his seat at the table. It’ll be helpful to teach your students “I Hear America Singing” along with it, drawing on the connections between the two poems.

https://poets.org/poem/i-too

24. The Brown Thrush

Lucy Larcom brings us beautiful and cheerful poetry for sixth graders to analyze.

“The Brown Thrush” is brimming with gorgeous imagery, spring descriptions, and hidden messages and ideas.

https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/109/selected-american-and-british-poems/5220/the-brown-thrush/

25. Melvin The Mummy

We can’t get enough of Kenn Nesbitt’s fun poems.

With “Melvin the Mummy,” your students will get a laugh in while learning a bit about Egyptian mythology, alliteration, irony, and puns.
man in camel with pyramid on background

https://poetry4kids.com/poems/melvin-the-mummy/

26. Jabberwocky

“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll is almost a social experiment with its nonsensical words.

So, if you want to teach your students to guess the meaning of poems through their context, “Jabberwocky” will do the job.

https://poets.org/poem/jabberwocky

27. The Sidewalk Racer

In “The Sidewalk Racer,” Lillian Morrison describes her experience with sidewalk racing.

Ask your students about their experience with skating, and write down the words they use to describe it. Then, invite them to identify the verbs and adverbs that reveal Morrison’s feelings about sidewalk racing.

https://poemstermorrisonwu.weebly.com/poem-1.html

28. The Wind

In this thoughtful piece, Robert Louis Stevenson describes the wind.

If you want poems that’ll help your students understand literary devices, this one features alliteration, personification, and enjambment.

https://allpoetry.com/poem/8450535-The-Wind-by-Robert-Louis-Stevenson

29. If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

Do you want your students reading poems with valuable lessons?

“If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking” is a proclamation of the willingness to help.

Emily Dickinson admits that helping others helps her find value in her life, so does that make her selfless or selfish?

young adults comforting each other

https://allpoetry.com/If-I-can-stop-

30. Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?

We can’t talk about poetry without mentioning Shakespeare!

Challenge your students with “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”

Introduce them to sonnets, and help them find the logical argument in the verses.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45087/sonnet-18-shall-i-compare-thee-to-a-summers-day

31. Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face

If you want your students to memorize poetry, try “Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face” by Jack Prelutsky.

Its catchy rhyme and humorous message will grab your middle graders’ attention!

https://poets.org/poem/be-glad-your-nose-your-face

32. Fire And Ice

“Fire and Ice” is a short and accessible piece by Robert Frost.

It’s one of the best poems for a lesson about contrast, featuring desire and hate, fire and ice, and so on.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44263/fire-and-ice

33. The Old Oaken Bucket

Do you want a countryside-themed poem for 6th graders? Consider “The Old Oaken Bucket” by Samuel Woodworth.

This piece captures just what it’s like to feel nostalgic about your childhood memories.
well with a wooden roof and bucket

https://allpoetry.com/poem/8573279-The-Old-Oaken-Bucket-by-Samuel-Woodworth

34. A Dream Within A Dream

If you’re going to teach your students about rhyme schemes, you might as well have them learn from the master, Edgar Allan Poe.

“A Dream Within a Dream” is a perfect example of his stunning rhyme.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52829/a-dream-within-a-dream

35. Annabel Lee

Sixth graders who enjoy ghost stories will love Poe’s “Annabel Lee.”

Just prepare a tissue box because this is a tearjerker if we’ve ever seen one!

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44885/annabel-lee

36. Eletelephony

Poetry for 6th graders should be full of humorous language and impressive imagery.

Rest assured that “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards delivers on both grounds!

https://poets.org/poem/eletelephony

37. Trees

Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees” is one of his most famous poems, showcasing his connection with nature.

Ask your students to explain how he portrayed that via his language and literary elements.

beautiful tree with pink leaves

https://poets.org/poem/trees

Conclusion

We’ve rounded up poetry that discusses the political and economic state of the world, fun and humorous poetry, romantic sonnets, and more. And we hope that our selection of poetry has given you what you need. Now, you can make your sixth graders fall in love with reading and literature. Good luck!

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

MyTechClassroom.com
Leave a Reply

;-) :| :x :twisted: :smile: :shock: :sad: :roll: :razz: :oops: :o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :grin: :evil: :cry: :cool: :arrow: :???: :?: :!: