CLiPPA 2023 Shortlist Blog
I think poetry for children is pretty exciting. In fact, I don’t think poetry for children is just for children; with the diversity of voices, form and, well, beautiful illustrations, I think poetry for children is for everyone. The problem is that there’s a wealth of really great collections out there so it’s hard to know where to start. Which is where the CLiPPA (CLPE Children’s Poetry Award) comes in. The CLiPPA shortlist provides a snapshot of the exceptional poetry available to young readers and is the perfect place to start if you’re beginning a poetry reading journey.
This year, I had the honour of being on the judging panel alongside our esteemed chair Chris Riddell; poet and CLiPPA 2022 winner Valerie Bloom; Spoken Word Educator Indigo Williams; and Charlotte Hacking, the Learning and Programme Director at CLPE. The following are the five shortlisted collections that we think embody the very best of poetry for children across all forms.
Blow a Kiss Catch a Kiss by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Nicola Killen, (Andersen Press)
Blow a Kiss Catch a Kiss is a joyful collection for really young readers that has actions and moving your body at its core. My son loved it when I read it to him and we felt that it would chime with other little ones too. The collection shows how creative and playful poetry can be.
Marshmallow Clouds by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek, illustrated by Richard Jones, (Walker Books)
Marshmallow Clouds is a stunning collection of poems that explore the beauty and wonder of the natural world. The illustrations are beautiful, the language is lyrical. It’s one of those books that just makes you see the world anew. It shows how poetry can encourage us to slow down, reflect, and appreciate the small moments in life that often go unnoticed.
Let’s Chase Stars Together by Matt Goodfellow, (Bloomsbury Education)
Matt Goodfellow’s collection explores so many things – it’s about belonging, growing up, finding yourself – all things that you don’t really stop discovering. It feels like an incredibly personal collection too and the poems about grandparents and parents have particularly stuck with me. It’s a book that exemplifies how poetry has this unrivalled ability to capture and preserve moments in time and evoke powerful memories.
Choose Love by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček, (Graffeg)
Nicola Davies has penned an incredibly powerful collection of poems providing insight into the real-life experiences of refugees forced to leave their homes. I tried to read a poem from the collection during a Zoom call and couldn’t make it through the poem as I was fighting back the tears. Featuring Petr Horáček’s stunning illustrations too, it’s a collection that should be shared by everyone.
These are the Words by Nikita Gill, (Macmillan Children’s Books)
I think Nikita Gill described this book as being all the things she wished someone had told her when she was younger, poems as older sister. I had amazing older cousins (who lived a door away) and I think this book would have been a perfect accompaniment to the things they taught me. Personally, I was engrossed by the poems about family and friendships and keep going back to them. It’s a book that shows just how uniquely poetry can help us connect with ourselves, others, and the world around us on a deeper level.
The CLiPPA 2023 shortlist showcases the incredible range and diversity of contemporary poetry for children. Poetry has the power to inspire, uplift, and transform young minds, and these books are a testament to the enduring power of this art form.
Jay Bhadricha is the Head of Programmes at Forward Arts Foundation, the charity responsible for the Forward Prizes for Poetry and National Poetry Day, the UK’s biggest annual celebration of poetry. Before joining Forward Arts Foundation, Jay was an Editorial and Content Manager at First Story, responsible for publishing all their anthologies and overseeing their digital content.
Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation.