Books of Many Colors

Jun 17, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Book Picks

Books about colors are a staple of every child’s library. The public library is filled with many variations on this theme. How can a children’s book on colors, then, distinguish itself from others? Well, how about poetry? Poetry is more than beautiful words. Poetry builds memory skills, vocabulary, and knowledge of rhyming words. Below are three children’s poetry books that present the colors in a fresh way. And like all poetry, they are meant to be read aloud!

Hailstones and Halibut Bones is a classic book of children’s verse. First published in 1961, it continues to delight young and old alike. The book takes its title from the poem “What is White?”

White is a dove

And lily of the valley

And a puddle of milk

Spilled in an alley—

A ship’s tail

A kite’s tail

A wedding veil

Hailstones and

Halibut bones

And some people’s


Each poem-for purple and gold, black and grey, red and pink, yellow and green-uses both every day objects and images from nature for its description. Each color is also described as a feeling. The color black, for example, is described as a “…feeling/Hard to explain/Like suffering but/Without the pain.” The illustrations cover entire pages of the book, and use images the author uses in her poetry. If you use this book as a read aloud, take the poems one at a time, savoring them and their illustrations.

Written by one of Mexico’s foremost children’s book authors, Colors! ¡Colores! stands out because it renders each color poem into both Spanish and English. Each poem is very brief, made up of only one sentence written as a few lines of verse. Among my favorites is the poem for orange:


   little sun of the orchard,

   they will say I ate you,

   and it’s true.

The watercolor illustrations are soft and beautiful, done with a light touch. You might try to spot the birds and the antelope in almost every picture.

A Song of Colors is a rich picture book. Each color poem and its accompanying illustration is given two full pages in this text, making the book a sensory treat. The poetry in this book uses more advanced vocabulary than the other books above, but don’t let that deter you from sharing it with your child. After all, a child with a good vocabulary is a good reader. Each poem uses multiple names in its lines for the color it describes. For example, red is “Poppies, cherries, roses, bricks/rubies, blood, and traffic lights.” Yellow is “Spice and starfish/fire and bees/duckling color/blackbird’s beak.” The illustrations, in watercolors and color ink, have rather Victorian touches, and are feast of animals, people, places, and things. If you want to expand your child’s appreciation of colors, words, and poetry, be sure to check out these books at the Nashville Public Library!


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