By Karen Landsman
The Concord Public Library Foundation is pleased to announce David Elliott as the 2020-21 recipient of the Elizabeth Yates Award. This award is given each year to a resident of the greater Concord area who is actively engaged in inspiring young people to read.
Elliott, a New Hampshire author of children’s books in verse and prose has also taught creative writing, adolescent literature and playwriting at Colby-Sawyer College, and is a founding faculty mentor of Lesley University’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing. Most recently, he has published three critically acclaimed novels in verse, including Bull and Voices: The Final Hours. His picture books have been enjoyed by children (and adults) for many years. His book This Orq (he cave boy) was nominated for the NH Ladybug Picture Book Award in 2015 and is an example of how he encourages his young readers to find the playful side of language.
“In everything I write, part of my main effort is to show young people how playful, how buoyant, how beautiful, and expressive their language is,” Elliott comments. “I always want to tell a good story, but I also want to be sure that the language that’s telling that story is exciting to the reader’s ear.” He often visits schools to promote the love of reading, even going virtual during the pandemic. “Most of my books were written aloud so I think they sound better read aloud; the rhythms, the vowel sounds … it all matters. Language is one of the ways, maybe the primary way that we let the world know who we are. I want young people to have control over the language they speak because it gives them power.”
Although known best for his children’s picture books, Elliott has also written two novellas; this volunteer effort has stories that are high-interest with very accessible language for adults new to literacy. Other examples of his writing include a poetry series that when done, will include over 140 short verses about the animal world and their habitats.
“At first, I was happy to write about anything, and the animals were just the tools,” Elliott muses. “But now I feel like my relationship to animals and the natural world has become more intimate and meaningful. We are all connected and we are not number one – which is a liberating feeling.”
The Elizabeth Yates Award honors Concord resident and children’s author Elizabeth Yates, who was a strong advocate of reading and who supported library programs in the Concord community during her lifetime. Elizabeth Yates received the first award named in her honor in 1994. The winner of the award is given the opportunity to recommend $500 worth of books to add to the Children’s Room collection, each book bearing a bookplate with his/her name. In addition, the winner’s name is inscribed on the Elizabeth Yates Award plaque that hangs in the Children’s Room. This award has been presented to authors, illustrators, storytellers, teachers, librarians and others involved in encouraging reading.
Do you know someone who has gone above and beyond to encourage young children to read? We seek to honor outstanding individuals for their hard work and passion. You can find an online nomination form on the Concord Public Library Foundation website.