09 November 2021 Share
BookTrust has presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to the playwright, poet, and children's writer John Agard.
John is the first poet to receive the prestigious award for his outstanding contribution to children’s literature.
John has published more than 50 books, including poetry for all ages, stories, and non-fiction. In 2012, he was presented with the Queen’s Gold Medal for poetry and has seen his poems Half Caste and Checking Out Me History studied by thousands of students as part of their GCSE curriculum.
Growing up in Guyana, John developed a love for language from the cricket commentary on the radio to the Caribbean Creole he heard at the market. He worked in jobs surrounded by books and language – including in a library, as a teacher and writing for a newspaper – before moving to England in 1977, where he became a touring lecturer for the Commonwealth Institute to promote a better understanding of Caribbean culture. Over the course of the next eight years, he visited 2,500 schools and realised poetry was a way to connect and inspire the children he met. Now, his poems and stories are read, studied and adored by children and adults across the world.
The BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates the body of work of an author and/or illustrator who has made an outstanding contribution to children's literature. The judges highlighted John’s persistence and creativity in championing and challenging the language norms that too often dominate literature and the curriculum, as well as his ability to connect with children today and inspire them to reach for their goals and aspirations, whatever they may be.