National Council of Teachers of English Logo

NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children

NCTE Poetry AwardThe 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 2017.

2015 Award Winner: Marilyn Singer

Marilyn SingerMarilyn Singer has published over one hundred books for children and young adults in a wide variety of genres. She likes writing many different kinds of books, and many of them have won awards with several placed on notable book lists. Mirror, Mirror has garnered many awards, including the Cybil Award for Poetry and the Land of Enchantment Picture Book Award, and has also been named an ALA Notable Book, a CLA/NCTE Notable Book, and a Capitol Choice Book. It's been called one of the best books of 2011 by the Washington Post, Horn Book, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, Scripps News Service, and blogger Betsy Bird’s list.

Singer was honored at the Children's Book Awards Luncheon and Poetry Award session during the NCTE Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Listen to Marilyn talk about her books in this Language Arts podcast.

Read "Celebrating Marilyn Singer: A Poet of Many Interests" in the September 2015 issue of Language Arts.

Visit Marilyn's website at


2015 NCTE Notable Poetry Books

"Poems for All Seasons" School Library Journal
Here are 16 outstanding poetry collections to offer children and teens—not just this month, but throughout the year and across the curriculum. These well-written and beautifully illustrated selections provide myriad options to engage students and to foster a love of language, both oral and written. It is our hope that this list of recommended titles is just the beginning. Use these books, and create connections with books from previous Notable Lists (2014, 2013, 2012, 2011) to create even more poetry joy!



Award Criteria

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.

NCTE FundDonate to the NCTE Fund to help support and advance initiatives like the Award for Excellence in Poetry that expand opportunities for the teaching and learning of language arts!


Learn more about NCTE poetry resources today!


Have questions or comments,
email us today!


Document and Site Resources

Share This On:

Page Tools:

Join NCTE Today

Related Search Terms

Another Jar of Tiny Stars
Living Voices


Copyright © 1998-2016 National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved in all media.

1111 W. Kenyon Road, Urbana, Illinois 61801-1096 Phone: 217-328-3870 or 877-369-6283

Looking for information? Browse our FAQs, tour our sitemap and store sitemap, or contact NCTE

Read our Privacy Policy Statement and Links Policy. Use of this site signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use

Visit us on:
Facebook Twitter Linked In Pinterest Instagram