Winners of the Book Creator Poetry Competition revealed!

Dan KempCollaboration, Creative Arts, English / Language Arts, Poetry

Book Creator poetry competition banner

In April we ran a poetry competition to celebrate National Poetry Month. We had over 100 entrants from around the world, showcasing amazing poetry and book design skills.

Our judges, Matthew Friday and Eric Curts have chosen their top 3 from a shortlist of 10 in each age category. Without further ado, let's reveal the winners!

Age 4-11

For this age group, we asked teachers to submit a collaborative book, showcasing 5 styles of poetry. Making the book collaborative meant that even if some students aren't great poetry writers, they can still support the creative process by being the illustrator/editor/project manager.

1st place: 
When I Grow Up

by Ms. Caraballo's Morning Class. Age: 9-10

Noris Caraballo is a 4th grade teacher at Southside Elementary, which is part of Cleveland ISD in Texas, USA. This is what she said about her entry:

"As the end of the year is fast approaching, our class decided to think about what we want to be when we grow up. This allowed the students to reflect on their future and how much they have to accomplish to be what they want. It's about dreaming big and having that goal in mind.

"Students learned five different styles of poetry and it was their choice to do the one they feel identify with. Our class is a dual-language class (one poem was translated from the Spanish language) with economically disadvantaged students. Writing these poems gave them the opportunity to think about their future beyond Southside Elementary walls.

Ms Caraballo and students

"It’s so exciting to win the Book Creator poetry competition. My class and I are honored to be competing alongside such amazing books and authors.  I’m so proud of my students, their hard work, and their commitment to learning and being better every single day. Way to go my sweet and smart Southside morning class!"

Matthew Friday: 
"I loved this collection. I enjoyed how it stuck to one theme and gave every child an equal chance to express their ideas about their future. The poems were diverse, engaging and filled with joy. Reading them I got a sense that the future looks bright with the hopes of these children. I thought it was especially good that every single student was represented both in words and in film, giving poetry its fullest range of expression and the student the widest experience of communication. This poetry collection is the embodiment of literary equity."

Eric Curts:
"This is a wonderful collection of poems that communicate the students’ visions for their futures. The poems are written in a variety of styles, and displayed in a layout that is colorful and engaging. It was great to see and hear each student read their poems and bring them to life!"

2nd place: 
A World Full of Poetry

by Mrs Farrant's Orangutan Class

Orangutan class is a Year 5 class from Katherine Semar Junior School, Saffron Walden, Essex (UK) and consists of 31 pupils age 9-10 (15 boys and 16 girls). Their teacher, Abbey Farrant, said this:

"The class spent a week of English lessons reading, performing and writing poems. All 31 pupils loved it and wanted to publish so I saw this as a great opportunity for them. We recently finished a space topic in Science so wanted to link our front cover to this as our poems are about so many different aspects of the world, hence the title. We are also studying climate change in Geography at the moment so linked some poems to this.

"We looked at A-Z poems in a menu style which were a lot of fun writing. For the Breathless poems pupils ran on the spot in the classroom and discussed how their bodies felt before writing these great poems. Some pupils have used Book Creator before but we spent some time as a class learning the software and made the book together.

"Each pupil choose 1 poem they wanted to type up. They then drew their own illustrations to go alongside their poem which we imported into the book. Each child designed their page and had a lot of fun! A mixture of apps/websites were used including Canva, Giphy, Publisher,, ChatterPix Kids as well as using the power of AI on 'I can't draw' on Padlet (we found out about this tool when reading Book Creator's blog).

"The class wanted a funny way to introduce themselves so we used AI to create a picture of a classroom of Orangutan's waving! The pupils previously recorded a song in a music lesson which they wrote lyrics for. They used the first verse on the introduction page and sang and recorded it. This was a lot of fun and took a few takes to get right!

"Lots of pupils wanted to perform their poems so used iPads and the record function on Book Creator. It was lovely hearing them read with such passion and expression. As a class we have had so much fun creating this book and the children said they have learnt so much. Whether it be how to layer objects, remove the background from an image, import stickers of Gifs, change fonts, add audio, add a PDF, add pages in the book, move pages, use Canva or other applications, it has been so much fun and the children are so proud of their hard work, as am I."

Matthew Friday: 
"This collection stands out for the rich content, exploration of forms and sheer joy of writing. The book clearly represents a lot of work by the students (and teachers). I particularly liked the poems responding to the concept of ‘The Door’, as this provided such a variety of responses and ideas."

Eric Curts:
"The poems were very well written with lots of creativity and imagination. It was great to hear the poems read by each student, especially with how much expression they put into their readings. The hand-drawn illustrations added a lot to each poem, as well as the wide variety of multimedia."

3rd place: 
Summer Poetry

by 5B at St. Andrew's Elementary

This book was submitted by Megan Fleming, a Grade 5 Teacher from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, in Canada. She says:

"We had just finished our poetry unit when I saw this competition. I have used Book Creator in my classroom before and the students really enjoyed it. I thought it would be a great project for their final assessment on poetry.

"We came up with the topic of Summer as a class and discussed different things we would see/do in the Summer. Students got to choose what type of poem they wanted to write and got to illustrate a picture to go with it if they wished.

"After students had their poems completed they recorded themselves reading them. Our school is very diverse and we have students who speak many different languages. I thought it would be a nice idea to have those students also record their poem in their first language!"

Matthew Friday: 
"What immediately stood out to me was how this collection truly honored poetry in all the languages the students speak. So often in English speaking countries schools focus on English as the means of written and verbal expression. However, given the diversity of the school and the fact that poetry is universal to all cultures, this collection gave the students a chance to communicate in the most authentic and truthful way possible: using their Mother Tongues."

Eric Curts:
"I really appreciated hearing the poems read in the students’ first languages as well as in English. It brought wonderful life to the poems, demonstrated how poetry transcends language, and is a testimony to the hard work of these students."

Special mentions:

  • Poetry (A collaborative book on poems) - The layout and design was creative and engaging, especially the snail poem with the words in the shape of a snail. The poems were very well read with such great expression and pacing! I only wish there had been more poems in the collection, and more original illustrations. (Eric Curts)
  • Our Super Cool Poetry Book - This is an excellent collection of poems from students so young! I appreciated the variety of imagery including digital drawings, hard drawings, photos, clipart, and more. (Eric Curts)
  • Fantastic, Fun, Funny and For-You - This collection of poetry was immediately engaging with the first poem, The Auspicious Alsdorfs. That serious poem hooked me and I was enthralled, delighted, surprised and entertained throughout. (Matthew Friday)

Age 12-18

For older students, we were aiming to showcase the power of the spoken word. So the poetry was allowed to be in any style, but had to include audio or video of student reading the poem in a dramatic fashion!

Matthew Friday said: "The 12-18 category was an especially hard one to judge. Every submission was powerful, important and emotional. Every poet deserves credit for exploring themselves, their lives, life itself with so much honesty, clarity and rawness. These are 10 powerful voices, and picking three from them was almost impossible. I could make an argument for every poet!"

1st place: 

by Svara Naidoo, age 16

Svara NaidooSvara Naidoo is a 16-year-old student at St. John's Diocesan School for Girls in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. This is what she said about her poem:

"I wrote this poem about the struggles and strength of women that face oppression and violence. The video features empowering women with unique traits who support each other. It highlights that women are strengthened when they stand together and have overcome so much. The black and white filter emphasizes their individual beauty and the words being said."

Thank you to Michelle Lyn Barnsley for submitting this poem. Another of the poems she submitted, "My Lord visits me" by Nova Sutherland was also shortlisted as a finalist.

Michelle said: "I am incredibly proud of Svara! She has put in so much effort into making her Poetry Book and I am glad that she, as well as other young girls, get the opportunity to have a voice in the world."

The printed version of Svara's book

Matthew Friday: 
"This poem is excellently presented in the multi-media format. The inclusion of music and other students really helps place this poem in a visual context that strengthens the already powerful subject matter and words. Svara reads her poem with the cadence of a fully fledged performance poet: urgent but soft; forceful yet gentle; rhythmic and compelling. Here is a talent to watch."

Eric Curts:
"This is a powerful poem about the empowerment of women, that uses creative rhythms, evocative language, and striking images to make its points. The style of black and white photos and video leant to the message of the words, and the author’s delivery of the poem was clear and passionate."

2nd place: 
The Broken Doll

by Eden Gross, age 12

This book was submitted by Dahlia Nayman, a teacher at Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Boca Raton, Florida. She says:

This poem was written by 6th grader Eden Gross, an artist and writer. She wrote the poem based on personal experience, one that many middle schoolers can relate to. Eden is one of the more talented writers who I have taught in my 18 years experience. Eden was excited to explore Book Creator and utilize that multi-media tools.

Matthew Friday: 
"A brilliant extended metaphor, beautifully realized in succinct blank verse and compelling art work. Here is a young, promising talent to watch. I hope to read more of her work in the future."

Eric Curts:
"This poem uses metaphor and imagery to communicate a powerful message of vulnerability and societal pressure. The simple illustrations fit the theme well, and the author does a wonderful job communicating the emotions of the writing in her recital."

3rd place: 
Suicide Awareness Book

by Emmaline McDermott, age 12

Emmaline's teacher, Jennifer Fischbach from HB du Pont Middle School, Delaware, USA, tells us about the book:

"I use Book Creator in my social studies classroom as a journal for the kids. One of my students, Emmaline, saw the poetry competition and asked me if I would submit her book. Emmaline created this poem this year for something call Project Soapbox where students pick an issue in either their school, community, city, or society.

"Students must create a persuasive speech on the issue convincing their audience to take action on the issue. Throughout the process I try to tell the students to be as creative as possible and let their personalities show.

"Emmaline took it to the next level by making her speech a poem! I took Emmaline to the statewide competition at University Delaware to give her speech because it was so unique.

Matthew Friday: 
"This poem engages from the outset. I was impressed with the balance of force and sensitivity in presenting such an important and pressing topic. Emmaline did a wonderful job addressing the subject broadly while including references to herself: enough to give it personal context but not too much to take us away from understanding the scale of this issue. Her writing speaks to the thousands that are affected and the millions who can help them. This poem deserves to be read and discussed in schools across America."

Eric Curts:
"This is a powerful poem that addresses a sensitive but important issue of mental health and suicide. The author does a great job of conveying this message with creative rhymes and rhythms that weave personal experiences with statistics and a call to action."

Special mentions:

  • My Lord Visits Me - This poem takes a classic form of poetry and breathes new life into it with beautiful word choices and imagery. The author's recital of the poem brings it to life and emphasizes the beautiful flow and rhythm of the writing. (Eric Curts)
  • The War Within - The poet has a distinct combination of powerful subject matter in an engaging structure. I really enjoyed the method of stating a topic/theme/idea and then exploring it in the line underneath. It reads like the revealing of the layers of a person; layers that are deep, complex and universal. I also enjoyed the use of half-rhymes in the poems, along with repetition in another. Here is a poem finding her voice with content, form and feeling. (Matthew Friday)
  • Let It Be - A series of powerful and honest poems from a deep, and expressive soul. I especially liked the poem ‘What’s the Deal with Labels?’ - exploring the intersection of emotion, identity and fashion.

Full list of finalists

Age 4-11
  1. When I Grow Up by Ms. Caraballo's Morning Class, 4th grade (age: 9-10). Teacher: Noris Caraballo. Southside Elementary School, Cleveland ISD, Texas 🇺🇸
  2. A World Full of Poetry by Orangutan Class (age: 9-10). Teacher: Abbey Farrant. Katherine Semar Junior School, Saffron Walden, UK 🇬🇧
  3. Summer Poetry by 5B (age 10-11). Teacher: Megan Fleming. St. Andrew's Elementary, St. John's, NL, Canada 🇨🇦
  4. Collaborative Poetry Book by Rebecca Kirton, Amy Barnes, Jenna Barnes (age 11). Teacher: Wesley Renton. Stirling Primary School, East London, South Africa 🇿🇦
  5. An anthology of class poems by Jaguar Class (age 9-10). Teacher: Julie Hall. Katherine Semar Junior School, Saffron Walden, UK 🇬🇧
  6. Our Super Cool Poetry Book by Room 209 (age 7-8). Teacher: Vicki Kruse. Maple Grove Elementary School, Wisconsin 🇺🇸
  7. Fantastic, Fun, Funny For-You Poetry by Grades 3-5 Scholars of HOH (age 8-10). Teacher: Michell Wright Jumpp. Horizons-on-the-Hudson Magnet School (HOH), Newburgh, New York 🇺🇸
  8. Poems of Mind, Science and More by Year 5 (age 10-11). Teacher: Olimpia Mocanita. Questfield School, Ilfov, Romania 🇷🇴
  9. Grade 5 the Wykeham Collegiate by Grade 5 Girls (age 10-11). Teacher: Sharyn Taylor. The Wykeham Collegiate, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa 🇿🇦
  10. Our Poetry Book by P-3 Class. Teacher: Emily Carman. L’nu Education Centre, Bear River, NS, Canada 🇨🇦
Age 12-18
  1. Women by Svara Naidoo (age 16). Teacher: Michelle Lyn Barnsley. St. John's Diocesan School for Girls, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 🇿🇦
  2. The Broken Doll by Eden Gross (age 12). Teacher: Dahlia Nayman. Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Boca Raton, Florida 🇺🇸
  3. Suicide Awareness Poetry Book by Emmaline McDermott (age 12). Teacher: Jennifer Fischbach. HB du Pont Middle School, Hockessin, Delaware 🇺🇸
  4. The War Within by Isabella Frazier (age 16). Teacher: Kimberly Barrett. Calloway County High School, Murray, Kentucky 🇺🇸
  5. Touching Words by Cristiana Baptista (age 17). Teacher: Mónica Miranda. Escola Secundária Fernando Namora, Amadora, Portugal 🇵🇹
  6. The Book of Growing, Living and Dying by Deise Ramos (age 17). Teacher: Mónica Miranda. Escola Secundária Fernando Namora, Amadora, Portugal 🇵🇹
  7. Let It Be by Kylie R. Cooper (age 18). Teacher: Kimberly Barrett. Calloway County High School, Murray, Kentucky 🇺🇸
  8. My Lord visits me by Nova Sutherland (age 16). Teacher: Michelle Lyn Barnsley. St. John's Diocesan School for Girls, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 🇿🇦
  9. Body Image by Ella Bartlett (age 13). Teacher: Wesley Renton. Stirling Primary School, East London, South Africa 🇿🇦
  10. Dear Child of Light by Ana Cristina Gonzalez Sanchez (age 14). Teacher: Edith Martinez. San Roberto International School, Nuevo Leon, Mexico 🇲🇽

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