Poetry Friday: PaperTigers 10th Anniversary Top 10 Multicultural Children’s Poetry Books selected by Janet Wong

Second up in our Top-10 series in celebration of PaperTigers’ 10th Anniversary, we are delighted to welcome poet Janet Wong with her choice of multicultural poetry books.  Janet is herself the acclaimed author of an impressive list of poetry collections and fiction for all ages of young people, including Twist: Yoga PoemsNight Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams and Knock on Wood: Poems about Superstitions, all stunningly illustrated by Julie Paschkis; Homegrown House illustrated by E. B. Lewis; and the middle-grade free-verse Minn and Jake novels.

Recently, Janet has embraced e-publishing with several collections of her own poetry, including Once Upon a Tiger and Declaration of Interdependence: Poems for an Election Year. She has also collaborated with Sylvia Vardell on three PoetryTagTime e-collections of poetry. You can read Janet’s thoughts about e-publishing here, and also my 2008 interview with her here.

I love that Janet has selected one book for each year of PaperTigers – which has also made me chuckle, since the list is actually now 11. You may have noticed that Deborah Ellis’  Top 10 also had eleven titles, grouping two books together.  Could this be a theme?  Perhaps, a bit like a Baker’s Dozen, a Reader’s 10 actually equals 11?!


Top 10: Multicultural Poetry Picks (2002-2012) by Janet Wong

Picking my top ten multicultural poetry books of the past decade was pretty difficult; but I managed to stick to my goal and to limit myself to only one title published in each of the ten years of the existence of PaperTigers. Here are ten books for young people that I love, some collections and some novels in verse. Please look for them at your library—and give them as gifts to your library if you can’t find them there. Read from these books aloud, a few pages now and then, when you have time. A poem is a perfect 5-minute pick-me-up, like a snack for the mind.

2002:   19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye

2003:   Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

2004:   Under the Breadfruit Tree by Monica Gunning, illustrated by Fabricio Vanden Broeck

2005:   A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy

2006:   Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera

2007:   Tap Dancing on the Roof by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Istvan Banyai

2008:   Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

2009:   Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! by Pat Mora, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

2010:   Amazing Faces collected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Chris Soentpiet

2011:   Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

2012:   The Wild Book by Margarita Engle


This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem – Irene has a group zoo poem on offer today so head on over.

And P.S. We’ve just launched our own Facebook Page – PaperTigers: Books + Water – do visit us.



14 Responses to “Poetry Friday: PaperTigers 10th Anniversary Top 10 Multicultural Children’s Poetry Books selected by Janet Wong”

  1. jama Says:

    What a great idea — to pick a book from each year! See some of my faves, and some I need to check out.

  2. Janet Wong Says:

    Oops–11! Yes, let’s call this a “Reader’s 10”! (And having Margarita Engle as a bonus author is a terrific deal!)

  3. Janet Wong Says:

    Just found another oops–but thankfully this one isn’t mine! I think “illustrated by Philippe” got mixed up with “head on over” (though I don’t know why that message was there). Philippe Lardy is terrific and not overrated!

  4. Marjorie Says:

    Yes, I’ve corrected that, Janet – you’re right; somehow the text must have jumped in there. And I love that there are 11 books – it just shows that there’s always room for another one!

    And yes, Jama – likewise, there are some there I already know and love, and others that clearly need further investigating – like Marguerite Engle’s.

  5. Irene Latham Says:

    A Reader’s Ten, indeed! SO HARD TO CHOOSE! Janet has made some fine choices here, which is no surprise, as her fantastic instincts are evident in everything she does! I haven’t read Under the Breadfruit Tree, and I seeing it here, now I really want to. Thank you, both, for sharing.

  6. Tara Says:

    Many of these are new to me…thank you for putting it all together so beautifully!

  7. Laura Shovan Says:

    Hi, Marjorie. Thank you for featuring Janet’s work. I definitely want to check out her yoga poems. Of Janet’s list, “A Wreath for Emmett Till” is one of my favorites. Beautiful, stark book.

  8. Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe) Says:

    Fabulous list! Thank you so much for this resource, and for the extra book! :)

  9. Liz Steinglass Says:

    10 years! Congratulations! And for your birthday you gave us a gift–a wonderful reading list. I’m going to check out the first one first.
    Thank you!

  10. Marjorie Says:

    Thank you, all – Janet has indeed given us a wonderful selection – and, a small taster of things to come, it’s not the last we’ll be hearing of her, as regards her own writing, in our Top (Reader’s) Ten series… :-)

  11. Andromeda Jazmon Says:

    Fabulous idea! Thanks for the list and the book covers – I see some I need to add to my collection.

  12. Mary Lee Says:

    Congrats on 10 years, and WOW! what a fabulous list of 10+1 multicultural poetry books!

  13. PragmaticMom Says:

    This is exactly what I need. Thanks Janet Wong (huge fan of your books!). I’m trying to get more exposed to poetry and I love that it’s multicultural!!