Young People’s Poet Laureate

What is a Poet Laureate? Did you know we have 2 in the United States? Poet Laureates are designated by nations or groups and are frequently expected to compose poems for special occasions. The Librarian of the United States Congress designates a poet annually to work toward increasing our nation’s appreciation of poetry. This position is currently filled by Tracy K. Smith.

The Poetry Foundation, since 2006, has selected a Young People’s (or Children’s) Poet Laureate for two-year terms. The chosen poet works on a variety of projects to help instill a lifelong love of poetry among the nation’s developing readers.

Margarita Engle has held this position since 2017. Previously this position was filled by Jack Prelutsky, Mary Ann Hoberman, J.Patrick Lewis, Kenn Nesbitt, and Jacqueline Woodson.

I love this excerpt from her poem “Tula”, found in the book The Lightning Dreamer.

Books are door-shaped 

portals

carrying me

across oceans

and centuries,

helping me feel

less alone.

Engle may be best known for her novels in verse, especially those focusing on different aspects of Cuban history. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I will tell you that you need to give these books a try! Engle has a true gift for highlighting episodes in history that are not well-known.

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle   The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle

The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle   The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle

We also have some books for younger kids that feature poems by Engle.

Orangutanka by Margarita Engle  Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle

I am very excited about Bravo: Poems About Amazing Hispanics, our newest addition by Engle. This book is located in our juvenile biography area and is perfect for families and classrooms!

Diversity is a huge focus in children’s literature and there was so much in this book that was new to me!

You can read more of Engle’s poetry on the Poetry Foundation’s web page.