POET OF THE WEEK: Lilian Moore

Each week we will briefly introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) a poet whose work is enjoyed by kids and/or teens. We will start with the winners of the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children before moving on to other poets, past and present. Some poets you will encounter here are already familiar and popular; others are less widely known yet their poems deserve to be shared and remembered. Links within the profiles will take you to additional information about the poet.




(1909-2004, American)

[With special thanks to Sylvia Vardell and Lee Bennett Hopkins]


    “Poems should be like fireworks, picked carefully and artfully, ready to explode with unpredictable effects.” – Lilian Moore, from Lee Bennett Hopkins’s Pass the Poetry, Please!

Lilian Moore was born on March 17, 1909, in New York City and died on July 20, 2004, in Seattle, Washington. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Hunter College and then attended Columbia University for graduate work. She married and had one child. Her first job was teaching reading to truant children, where she became frustrated by the lack of quality reading materials that were both easy and interesting.
She went on to become an editor of easy-reader books and was the first editor of Scholastic’s Arrow Book Club from 1957 to 1967, pioneering the program that made quality paperback books accessible and affordable for elementary school children around the country. She was also involved in the founding of the Council on Interracial Books for Children, an organization with the mission of eliminating racial stereotypes in children’s literature.
Moore’s honors and awards included New York Times Best Books of the Year selection, several Child Study Association Children’s Books of the Year selections, American Library Notable Book citations, American Library Association Notable Children’s Book designation, and the National Council of Teachers of English Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for a lifetime of poetry writing in 1985.
Moore authored more than 30 picture books for children, many with animal characters or about topics of daily life familiar to very young children. Several of these were even adapted into short films. In addition, she created more than a dozen works of poetry that encourage children to wonder and imagine.  She also compiled poem anthologies such as Go With the Poem and Sunflakes. She brings a child’s eye view to her poetry about the trials and tribulations of struggling with the mini-milestones of growing up, such as tying shoelaces, finger painting, and negotiating jungle bars.
I Left My Head
By Lilian Moore

I left my head
Put it down for
a minute.
Under the
On a chair?
Wish I were
to say
Everything I need
in it!

From See My Lovely Poison Ivy by Lilian Moore (Atheneum, 1975). Reprinted in A Jar of Tiny Stars (Boyds Mills Press, 1995). All rights reserved.

2 thoughts on “POET OF THE WEEK: Lilian Moore

  1. A lovely poem: proof that less is more in literature. Also shows the importance of ‘space’ between words in poetry . . . and the impact of how the poem itself appears ‘graphically’ on the page.


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