Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery

Young People’s Poet Laureate

Margarita Engle Display

Margarita Engle is the new Young People’s Poet Laureate!   But what is the Young People’s Poet Laureate?  How can you get the word out to librarians, teachers and children of all ages?

I spoke with Katherine Litwin, Library Director at the Poetry Foundation Library and she said, “Awarded every two years, the $25,000 laureate title is given to a living writer in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. The laureate advises the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people’s literature and may engage in a variety of projects to help instill a lifelong love of poetry among the nation’s developing readers. This laureateship aims to promote poetry to children and their families, teachers, and librarians over the course of its two-year tenure.”    This year, a committee of seven members worked closely together to decide on a good representative who will work well with young people, teachers and students.

Why the shift from Children’s Poet Laureate to Young People’s Poet Laureate?  In 2006, Jack Prelutsky was the first winner of the Children’s Poet Laureate award followed by Mary Ann Hoberman, J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt.  The title shifted two years ago in 2015 with Jacqueline Woodson being awarded the first Young People’s Poet Laureate award.  Litwin said, “the name of the award changed from “Children’s to “Young Peoples” to promote the Laureate’s appeal to a wide group of readers, a group that encompasses everyone from the very young up through teenagers.”  When I heard Margarita Engle was the new Young People’s Poet Laureate, I knew this would be a perfect fit for reaching audiences of all ages.   As part of her award, she will be visiting schools soon including schools that might not have the funding for an author visit.  To learn more about Margarita Engle explore her website, listen to The Yarn’s podcast and enjoy reading her books aloud.

My 3 favorite ways to promote and introduce children/teachers/librarians to the new Young People’s Poet Laureate – Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle Display photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
art by Carly Garzon Vargas

1)      Create a book display of Engle’s picture books, poetry and novels in verse.  Simple – Display her books on a front table, book shelf or display case.   Extra – Ask a local artist to create a background for you, add information about the Poetry Foundation and other poetry resources in your display.

2)      Create a Young People’s Poet Laureate book list to print on demand or add to your library website.  (Make it easy to print out and for staff and library customers to find.)

3)      Share the Poetry Foundation website at one of your outreach school visits and staff meetings.   Talk about Jack Prelutsky, the first Children’s Poet Laureate, then transition to Jacqueline Woodson, Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015-2017 and highlight the new YPPL – Margarita Engle.   Celebrate books!  Read her poems aloud over and over again.

Are you going to ALA in June? Discover the Poetry Foundation Library and learn more about the Young People’s Poet Laureate award – Hours: Monday – Friday 11:00am -4:00pm.  Also, open on Saturday during ALA from 10:00am – 3:00pm.   Hope to see you at ALA or at the Poetry Foundation Library!

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