dgraab - the member who asked this question - selected this as the best answer posted by another Education.com member.
from a fellow member
My children's grade school had a big yearly contest in which kids memorized poems and read them aloud. It was for the 3rd through 5th grades.
You'd be surprised what kids can do even in 3rd grade. That first year, both my kids had "Jabberwocky" down in a single afternoon. They both (rather redundantly) recited it for the assembled school. The appeal there is the cool language; kids at that point are just reading, and the sounds of Lewis Carroll's imaginary words won them over.
(Most of the rest of the class will be using Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" poems, if my experience is any indication.)
My favorite children's poetry book, hands-down, is Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses." My grandmother gave it to me when I was little, and I still have the same copy with beautiful watercolor illustrations.
I can still recite 'The Swing' by heart. (I've included a link to it below; it's a very brief, but sweet poem.)
I also second Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends." A classic!