The National Council of Teachers of English wishes to recognize and foster excellence in children's poetry by encouraging its publication and by exploring ways to acquaint teachers and children with poetry through such means as publications, programs, and displays. As one means of accomplishing this goal, NCTE established its Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children in 1977 to honor a living American poet for his or her aggregate work for children ages 3–13.
The NCTE Poetry Committee gave the award annually until 1982 and every three years until 2009. In 2008 the Poetry Committee updated the criteria and changed the time frame to every other year.
The next award will be given in 2015.
The award is presented by the Poetry Committee Chair at the Books for Children Luncheon during the NCTE Annual Convention in November every two years. The winner receives a plaque and an invitation to be the featured speaker at a Poetry Award session.
Joyce Sidman is the author of many award-winning children’s poetry books, including the Newbery Honor-winning Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, and two Caldecott Honor books: Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems (also a Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award winner) and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors (which won the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award). She teaches poetry writing to school children and participates in many national poetry events, including the annual “Poetry Blast” at the American Library Association meeting. Her recent book, Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature, has been critically acclaimed and is a Junior Library Guild Selection.
Visit Joyce's website to learn more about her work and listen to her reading poetry.
Literary Merit (art and craft of aggregate work--as poet or anthologist)
Creating books of poetry that demonstrate imagination, authenticity of voice, evidence of a strong persona, and universality / timelessness are essential. In short, we're looking for a poet who creates poetry books that contain clean, spare lines; use language and form in fresh ways; surprise the reader by using syntax artistically; excite the reader's imagination with keen perceptions and sharp images; touch the reader's emotions. A maker of word events is what we're looking for.
Poet's or Anthologist's Contributions
Aggregate work, evident potential for growth and evolution in terms of craft, and excellence are considered.
Evolution of the Poet's or Anthologist's Work
Technical and artistic development as evidenced in the poetry, evidence of risk, change, and artistic stamina, and evidence of different styles and modes of expression are considered.
Appeal to Children
Although the appeal to children of a poet's or anthologist's work is an important consideration, the art and craft must be the primary criterion for evaluation. Evidence of students' excitement for the poetry and evidence of childlike quality, yet poem's potential for stirring fresh insights and feelings should be apparent.
Poetry Book Collection
A collection of poetry books of all winners of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, past and future, is sustained and preserved at the University of Minnesota Children's Literature Research Collections (CLRC) / Kerlan Collection at the Andersen Library.
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