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 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children winners before moving on to other poets.
MARY ANN HOBERMAN
(American, b. 1930)
Mary Ann Hoberman was born on August 12, 1930, in Stamford, Connecticut, to Dorothy (Miller) and Milton Freedman. She attended the Stamford public schools, where she wrote for her school newspapers and edited her high school yearbook. In 1951 she received a B.A. in history from Smith College and, thirty-five years later, an M.A. in English Literature from Yale University. She married Norman Hoberman, an architect and artist, in 1951. They have four children, all in the arts — Diane, Perry, Chuck, and Meg — and five grandchildren. The Hobermans have lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, for almost fifty years in a house that Norman designed.
Mary Ann Hoberman has taught writing and literature from the elementary through the college level. She co-founded and performed with both “The Pocket People,” a children’s theatre group, and “Women’s Voices,” a group giving dramatized poetry readings. But ever since her first book was published in 1957, her primary occupation has been writing for children. She received a National Book Award in 1983 for A House is a House for Me and the 2003 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children for her body of work. In 2008 the Poetry Foundation named her the second U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, after Jack Prelutsky and before J. Patrick Lewis.
Mary Ann Hoberman recently published her first novel, Strawberry Hill. She is the critically acclaimed author of more than forty books for children. One hundred of her favorite poems are collected in The Llama Who Had No Pajama. Other popular titles include The Seven Silly Eaters and the You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You series.
“I knew I was going to be a writer even before I knew how to write! I think I was about four years old when I first understood that many of the stories I loved so much had been made up by real people, with real names, rather than having always been here like the moon or the sky. I decided then that when I grew up I would write stories, too, that would be printed in books for other people to read. But meanwhile I didn’t wait to grow up or even to learn how to write. I started right away to make up stories and poems and songs in my head, which I told to myself or to my little brother…
“Many years later I did become a writer, just as I had decided back when I was four. I saw my stories and poems and songs printed in books just like the ones I loved so much when I was a little girl. But I still make things up in my head before I write them down. And most of my ideas have originated in memories of my own childhood and in my own early interests and pastimes. As a younger woman I had almost total recall of myself as a child; and even now, when I am a grandmother and the years on which I draw for my stories and poems are more than half a century behind me, I can still tell you the names of every one of my elementary school teachers, where I sat in each classroom, who my friends (and enemies) were, and how I felt about myself, my family, and my world. In many ways, despite the sorrows and pain of childhood, I loved being a child; and as a child I was somehow already aware that childhood was fleeting and that I must never forget what it felt like to be new in the world.”
(Adapted from: Sixth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators)