Reaching the Stars: Poems about extraordinary Women and Girls

NSTBA Past Winners- Poetry Category

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Here at NSTBA HQ, we love poetry and value sharing it in our classrooms. Hugely versatile, poetry is so appealing and can be performed as well as created, discussed and enjoyed. There are so many styles of poems from so many cultures and eras and yet, this is the category we have to search the hardest for!

Here is a reminder of the winners from the past four years…

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Our first winner was ‘Buzzing’, a wonderful collection of poems about insects by Anneliesse Emmans Dean. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Anneliesse was as lovely as her poetry which is illustrated with her stunning photography. This book has been an excellent as a guided reading text. You can read our review here.

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In 2016, ‘Flo of the Somme’ was our choice. Beautifully illustrated with Martin’s wonderful watercolours, Hilary tells the story of Flo, one of the many animals used in war, in rhyming text. It is a beautiful book in so many ways and is perfect for sharing. Martin was able to attend the awards and it was a delight to meet him. You can read our review here.


Three poets won our 2017 award with this marvellous collection of poems celebrating women. The range of women written about from diverse backgrounds and historic periods and the use of different styles makes this a real treasure trove. Liz Brownlee and her wonderful dog, Lola, were able to join us for the awards.

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A wonderful collection to use with children, you can read our review here.


In 2018, Liz was back, accompanied by fellow poets Sue Hardy-Dawson and Roger Stevens with their wonderful collection of shape poems which won the award. They are a wonderfully friendly crowd and we were delighted that they were all able to attend- with Lola!


You can read our review here.


Each of these books has been widely used in our schools and each has ideas for a book event and /or teaching notes to go with them which are available to our members. It is a pleasure to see them being used in classes and enjoyed by so many children!

We will revisit the Read Aloud Category next!

LONGLIST REVIEW: Reaching the Stars Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls

This is a collection packed with a wonderful range of poems about some of the amazing women and girls who have helped to shape our world. Young (Tallulah Bryan), from the past (Boudicca) and the present (Sara Pickard), well-known (the Bronte sisters) and unnamed (match girls) - these inspiring figures are celebrated in poetic form. There are also poems discussing the role of women in fairy tales and clothing and fashions.

Although about women, this is not a collection just for girls; there is something for everyone here.  Many of the poems start with some background information, placing the character into context and many would make a perfect starting point for lessons across the curriculum. 'Malala' by Michaela Morgan would make an excellent focus for discussion about human rights and could be used in conjunction with the wonderful picture book about her life, 'For the Right to Learn'.

The three poets responsible for this collection each bring their own voice and style, creating a diverse range of work. This is a must-have for any school or library!

Reaching the Stars- Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls

by Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee and Michaela Morgan

Macmillan    ISBN: 978-1509814282