Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery

Young People’s Poet Laureate Naomi Shihab Nye, 2019 – 2021

In September, I tried my best to magically transport myself to Seattle to hear Young People’s Poet Laureate, Naomi Shihab Nye speak.  Part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures series, I was hoping to hear about Nye’s new book The Tiny Journalist, her past teen and children’s poetry books and her life.  The event described her work: “Drawing on her Palestinian-American heritage, the cultural diversity of her home in Texas and her experiences traveling in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit.”

I started sharing her poems in the early 2000’s when I was a Young Adult Librarian at New York Public Library.  I remember sharing 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, a finalist for the 2002 National Book Awards, Young People’s Literature and an ALA Notable Book Award in 2003.  It was and still is one of the most important poetry books for teens and families to read aloud together.  With her new role as Young People’s Poet Laureate, my hope is librarians, teachers and students will share her poetry now more than ever.

You can explore videos, hear her poems, discover a new poetry article and more at   Explore her “Book Picks” where she will recommend a new poetry book each month.  Her October Pick is Here We Go: A Poetry Friday Power Book Edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

My favorite ways to promote and introduce children/teachers/librarians to the Young People’s Poet Laureate – Naomi Shihab Nye.  

  • Read aloud “Map of Fun” at your next storytime.  Make your own daily map with illustrations and favorite things to do outside.
  • “The river is famous to the fish.” Who do you want to be famous to? Read “Famous” and share your own famous connections at home, outside and in the classroom.
  • Create a YPPL book display in your library! Use images from the Poetry Foundation website, book covers and more.
  • Share her poems in your classroom visits.  You will find her children’s poems in a variety of children’s poetry anthology books and on the poetry foundation website.

Learn more about the Young People’s Poet Laureate Award at and past poetry ALSC Blogs.  How will you share her poems?


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