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The Study of Poetry and Literature for Children & Young Adults

Poet Study: Janet S. Wong


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"I like poems that make you laugh, or cry; poems that grab you and make you read them again; poems that make you think."

  • Born September 30, 1962 in Los Angeles, Janet grew up in Southern and Northern California.
  • Janet's father, Roger Wong, is a Chinese immigrant and her mother, Joyce, is a Korean immigrant.
  • After going to UCLA for history, Janet went toYale University to receive her law degree.
  • Janet  spent her junior year in college  in France, studying art history at the Université de Bordeaux.
  • When she returned from France, Janet founded the UCLA Immigrant Children's Art Project. This was a program which focused on teaching refugee children to express themselves through art.
  • Janet lives in Medina, Washington with her husband Glen and son Andrew.
  • For pets, Janet has a dog, which is a Norwegian Buhund, named Nissa. Nissa is the inspiration for her upcoming picture book ALPHA DOG.
  • She decided to become a writer after attending a Children's Writing Workshop by Myra Cohn Livingston.  
  • Myra Cohn Livingston, author of over 80 books of poetry for children, became Janet's poetry teacher and mentor. Janet attended Ms. Livingston's Writing Workshop five times!
  • Janet is the author of 14 poetry & storybooks for children and young adults.
  • Janet called her Chinese grandpa Gong-Gong and her grandma Popo. These are the Cantonese words for grandfather and grandmother.



Janet Wong with son Andrew

Dear Mary:


I think the single best thing a children’s librarian can do is to put poetry books (and picture books with a poetic text) on the top of the bookshelves. With SO many skinny-spined books to choose from, it is always hard for a child or parent to choose a book. Make it easy for them to connect with poetry!


That being said, if you can start each storytime session with one or two poems, and perhaps finish with one or two poems, that would be super. It often is easy to find a poem that matches the theme of a picture book. Reading a short poem will take all of 10-30 seconds. Reading two takes only one minute! And after you read from the poetry books, ask if anyone wants to check that book out today.


I also use the “poetry suitcase” technique. In my suitcase I have various props that match poems. If someone chooses the Top Ramen, for instance, I’ll read my poem “Noodles” from GOOD LUCK GOLD.


Hope this inspires you!


All best wishes,


Janet Wong


Biographical Information from an email interview with the author and the following websites.