FEATURED POET: Valerie Worth

One of our goals is to introduce you to (or reacquaint you with) accomplished poets whose work is enjoyed by children or teens. We start with the winners of the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children before moving on to other poets.



(American, 1933-1994)

“Never forget that the subject is as important as your feeling: The mud puddle itself is as important as your pleasure in looking at it or splashing through it. Never let the mud puddle get lost in the poetry—because, in many ways. the mud puddle is the poetry.” — Valerie Worth to Lee Bennett Hopkins


In 1991, Valerie Worth received the NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for her body of work. At the time of the award, Lee Bennett Hopkins wrote a profile of Worth (Language Arts, Vol. 68, October 1991) that beautifully summarizes her remarkable career up to that point. You can download a free PDF of the profile by clicking the link below:


In 1994, Valerie Worth passed away from cancer at age 60. You can read the New York Times obituary by clicking here.

After publishing a collection of verses, At Christmastime, in 1994, Farrar, Straus and Giroux released All the Small Poems and Fourteen More in paperback in 1996. In 2002, FSG posthumously published Peacock and Other Poems, with pictures by Natalie Babbitt, a collection of 27 poems that Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, said “heralds the joy of words.” In 2007, FSG published Animal Poems, illustrated by Steve Jenkins.

Bibliography of Valerie Worth’s Works

  • The Crone’s Book of Words, 1971.
  • Small Poems, 1972.
  • More Small Poems, 1976.
  • Still More Small Poems, 1978.
  • Curlicues: The Fortunes of Two Pug Dogs, 1980.
  • Gypsy Gold, 1983.
  • Fox Hill, 1986.
  • Small Poems Again, 1986.
  • All the Small Poems, 1987.
  • The Crone’s Book of Wisdom, 1988.
  • At Christmastime, 1994.
  • All the Small Poems and Fourteen More, 1996.
  • Peacock and Other Poems, 2002.
  • Animal Poems, 2007.

All books were published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

“It has always seemed to me that any tree or flower, any living creature, even any old board or brick or bottle, possesses a mysterious poetry of its own…”                   — Valerie Worth to Lee Bennett Hopkins

7 thoughts on “FEATURED POET: Valerie Worth

  1. Thank you so much for featuring Valerie Worth. There’s so much to like in her poetry, especially the sense of wonder she invokes from the ordinary. She demonstrates the use of the just-right word, phrase, & metaphor. Her poetry is short and accessible to young students, yet appeals to all ages.

  2. I think Worth’s poem titled “bell” (from Short Poems) is about as perfect as a poem can be. Every once in awhile I take it out and look at it as if it were magic bean from a fairy tale – and rediscover each time that it is, indeed, magic. I’ll post it here, because -obviously – it’s short.


    By flat tink
    Of tin, or thin
    Copper tong
    Brass clang
    Bronze bong
    The bell gives
    Metal a tongue
    To sing
    In one sound
    Its whole song.

  3. Pingback: Lee Wardlaw reads from "Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku"

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