Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics

Common Sense Media says

Memorize and recite poems with handy but limited app.






What parents need to know

Ease of play

The app is relatively straightforward but could benefit from a tutorial to help kids maximize its features.


Some poems, both free and purchased, may reference minor acts of violence or violent emotions.


Poems may reference love and sexual thoughts and feelings.


Poems may feature words used in questionable contexts or with questionable connotations.


The Penguin logo appears prominently on the main screen. Encourages purchase of additional poems and poem packages.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Poems may reference drinking, drugs, and smoking directly and indirectly.

Privacy & safety

The app encourages sharing poems through social media and lacks an app-specific privacy policy. Depending on settings, it also could easily allow kids to make in-app purchases.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Poems by Heart focuses on memorizing and reciting classic poems. Although a few poems come free with the app, kids will have to purchase additional poems either individually or in sets. Before your kids buy a poem, you may want to make sure it fits the occasion and level. As kids begin to memorize poems, you also can encourage them to practice alone as well as with someone else around to offer constructive criticism. Although the app offers multiple activities to help kids learn, it fails to recognize whether they can actually recite the poem correctly -- that part may be up to you. 

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • reading
  • speaking
  • presenting to others


Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization


  • work to achieve goals


  • conveying messages effectively
  • listening
  • multiple forms of expression
  • presenting
  • speaking

Engagement, Approach, Support


Kids get to choose the poems they want to learn (especially if they upgrade), design is well-organized, and the option for male or female voices is a nice touch. 

Learning Approach

Kids can scale up with access to easy, medium, and hard poems, as well as use a system to help them memorize by filling in missing words.


The app lacks help files and extra resources but does offer additional poems for purchase and tracks kids' performance through the memorization process. 

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • reading
  • speaking
  • presenting to others


Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization


  • work to achieve goals


  • conveying messages effectively
  • listening
  • multiple forms of expression
  • presenting
  • speaking

Kids can learn the words to poems from some of the most beloved poets of all time. Whether it's Paul Laurence Dunbar's "Ships That Pass in the Night," Edgar Allen Poe's "Eldorado," or Shakespeare's "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?," kids will hear, see, and get the chance to record themselves reciting these classics. As they hear them, kids will begin to understand the meanings of the poems and start to recognize familiar elements of poetry. The memorization tools are quite sound, but curious kids could benefit from a way to analyze and better understand the poems they're putting to memory. 

This Learning Rating review was written by Stacy Zeiger

What's it about?

POEMS BY HEART FROM PENGUIN CLASSICS introduces kids to the art of poem memorization and recitation. It includes a few free poems for kids to learn, ranging in difficulty level. Kids start by hearing the poem read (they can choose a male or a female voice to do the reading). Kids then learn each poem in sections, completing an activity that has them fill in the missing words. As they correctly fill in words, the activity becomes more difficult, leaving out more and more words until kids fill in the entire poem themselves. After learning the poem, they have the opportunity to record themselves reading it line by line or all at once.

Is it any good?


In an age that encourages critical thinking and analysis, poem recitation and memorization may seem like a lost art. However, it may still benefit some kids or serve as an opportunity to help them learn poems to recite for special occasions. The app itself does a good job of helping kids memorize the poems, taking them line by line and increasing in difficulty as they learn more and more of each poem. However, simply memorizing the poem doesn't mean kids will understand it. Adding a brief analysis of each poem or even the opportunity to look up the definitions of words could help kids grasp a poem's meaning, which, in turn, could make memorizing easier.

Families can talk about...

  • Prepare a poem to perform at a holiday party or to mark another momentous occasion.

  • Families can talk about the meanings of the poems kids choose to recite. Are there any metaphors, similes, or words your kids aren't familiar with? Look them up!

  • If kids find a poem they like, encourage them to look up and read additional poems by the poet.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:December 12, 2013
Size:38.10 MB
Publisher:Penguin Group USA
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.3 or later

This review of Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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