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.
They may not understand it at first, but some discussion will unlock the poem’s hidden meanings.
2. Oh Captain! My Captain
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!
3. I Hear America Singing
We’re following up with another Walt Whitman poem.
4. The Inchcape Rock
“The Inchcape Rock” by Robert Southey is a long piece, so you can teach it over more than one lesson.
5. The Road Not Taken
You can discuss its literal meaning and figurative language with your students. What could it mean?
6. There Are Birds Here
You’ll love the discussion it initiates about misconceptions and their repercussions.
7. Still I Rise
Her powerful verse depicts how she faces oppression, racism, and sexism with resilience and grace.
8. We Wear The Mask
It’ll start a needed discussion about the experience of being black in the late 19th century.
9. Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep A Gun In The House
Do you want a light, imaginative poem?
Your middle schoolers will relate to its description of the daily frustrations.
10. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Dylan Thomas wrote “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” about his dying father.
The relatable topic and engaging imagery will surely grip your tweens.
12. So You Want To Be A Writer
Ask your students if they agree that poetry has to “come bursting out” of them.
13. We Real Cool
Do you want funny poems for 6th graders? Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” might be it.
14. Keep A-Pluggin’ Away
Another poem for sixth graders is “Keep A-plugin’ Away” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
15. My Friend
Get your middle schoolers to discuss the personification of pain, and ask them how it can lead our poet to divine joys.
16. The Sandpiper
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?
17. Where We Two Parted
You can ask them to dissect the cyclical poetic structures that communicate Byron’s grief.
“Contentment” is how you instill values into your young and impressionable minds.
19. Mother To Son
You can start a conversation about the political scene that inspired Langston Hughes to write his poem.
20. Lend A Hand
So, its anonymous writer indeed has many lessons to teach your student.
21. My Excuse
One of our favorite poems for sixth graders is “My Excuse” by Kenn Nesbitt.
22. Fernando The Fearless
Fernando’s story will grab your students’ attention. Who said learning about alliteration is boring?!
23. I, Too
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.
24. The Brown Thrush
Lucy Larcom brings us beautiful and cheerful poetry for sixth graders to analyze.
25. Melvin The Mummy
We can’t get enough of Kenn Nesbitt’s fun poems.
So, if you want to teach your students to guess the meaning of poems through their context, “Jabberwocky” will do the job.
27. The Sidewalk Racer
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.
28. The Wind
If you want poems that’ll help your students understand literary devices, this one features alliteration, personification, and enjambment.
29. If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking
Do you want your students reading poems with valuable lessons?
Emily Dickinson admits that helping others helps her find value in her life, so does that make her selfless or selfish?
30. Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?
We can’t talk about poetry without mentioning Shakespeare!
Introduce them to sonnets, and help them find the logical argument in the verses.
31. Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face
Its catchy rhyme and humorous message will grab your middle graders’ attention!
32. Fire And Ice
“Fire and Ice” is a short and accessible piece by Robert Frost.
33. The Old Oaken Bucket
Do you want a countryside-themed poem for 6th graders? Consider “The Old Oaken Bucket” by Samuel Woodworth.
34. A Dream Within A Dream
“A Dream Within a Dream” is a perfect example of his stunning rhyme.
35. Annabel Lee
Just prepare a tissue box because this is a tearjerker if we’ve ever seen one!
Rest assured that “Eletelephony” by Laura Elizabeth Richards delivers on both grounds!
Ask your students to explain how he portrayed that via his language and literary elements.
Jump In: Give your 6th-grade students some rest from reading poetry. Provide them with prose instead so that they could learn to differentiate between the two literary forms. Proceed to read my list of prose stories here — The 57 Best Chapter Books For 6th Graders To Read (In 2022).
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 July 24, 2022 by Emily